Golden Gate Bridge repairs require cyclists, pedestrians to share sidewalk 

Monday was a typical busy afternoon on the Golden Gate Bridge. Tourists snapped photos and gawked at the cityscape, parents pushed strollers and held their kids’ hands, and joggers dodged and weaved through dense crowds.

But the span will feel much busier starting today, when the western sidewalk shuts down for four months and thousands of cyclists and pedestrians commingle.

The Golden Gate Bridge transit district is closing the sidewalk — normally reserved for bicyclists on weekends, holidays and after 3:30 p.m. during the week — to complete seismic retrofitting on the span.

“This is going to be horrible,” said Lara Perlof, a San Francisco resident who was walking her dog on the bridge Monday. “The regular bicyclists on the bridge bike too fast, and the tourists aren’t paying attention. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

On weekend days, more than 6,000 bicyclists and 10,000 pedestrians cross the bridge.

“It will be too congested,” Glendale resident Matthew Schetnia said. “Everyone will constantly be asking you to watch out, and I can tell the bicyclists are going to be real mad about this.”

Carla Lieberman said she will probably just avoid the bridge.

“I have three children who I like to take here,” she said. “It will be too dangerous for them when the bicyclists are on this sidewalk.”

Cyclist Daniel Mudimbe, who crosses the bridge three times a week, called the closure “insane.”

“There is no way that we’ll be able to bike through this on a busy day,” he said. “We should be able to go on the east sidewalk and just walk our bikes for the portion where the construction work is happening.”

Jelle Claus, a Belgian tourist who crossed the bridge Monday on a rented bike, said he would be reluctant to cycle around pedestrians.

“I would have to get out and walk my bike,” he said.

Bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie said the agency will make sure things go smoothly. The district has considered a 10-mph bike speed limit, but the district’s board delayed action on the proposal in April due to concerns from cyclists.

Bicyclists will be allowed back on the west sidewalk in September, when 300 feet of the east sidewalk will then be closed for maintenance. But because that segment is on the northern end of the bridge, pedestrians will be able to cross nearly the entire span before turning around.

Although most bridge visitors expressed consternation about these plans, others were philosophical.

“It’s an inconvenience, but I think the pedestrians and bicyclists can find a way to share the bridge,” said Abheek Sambyal of Chicago, who was walking with his family. “It definitely wouldn’t be enough to keep me from visiting.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com


On the move


10,000 Pedestrians on the bridge during a busy weekend day
6,000 Bicyclists on the bridge during a busy weekend day
4 Months the west sidewalk will be closed


Regular sidewalk setup

  • East sidewalk: Bicyclists are allowed on the east sidewalk until 3:30 p.m. and after dark during the workweek. Pedestrians are allowed on the east sidewalk from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • West sidewalk: Cyclists are allowed on the west sidewalk during the weekends and holidays, and from 3:30 p.m. to dark during the workweek. Pedestrians are barred from the west sidewalk.

 

Setup with west sidewalk closure

  • East sidewalk: Pedestrians and bicyclists will share the east sidewalk at all times for a four-month period starting today.

Source: Bridge transit district

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Will Reisman

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