THE ANSWER FOR THE WEST BAY BRIDGE BIKE PATH
H. Chapot - Oakland Ca.
Every few weeks the Chronicle publishes another weepy story about the Bay Bridge bike lane, its costs and delays, but the answer for the west side path is right under our noses, or rather, right under the road bed.
Bridge authorities fed the Chronicle costs approaching half a billion dollars, a price tag that guarantees it may not be built in my lifetime.
Yet, I will ride to San Francisco from my home in Oakland someday, but unless the motoring public gives up a lane, the only good answer is to hang the bike path underneath the roadbed in an industrial sized catwalk, built from high tech lightweight modular materials. Though my first choice would be a ribbon pathway high above the upper deck flying through the towers, I've decided the under the roadbed is the best real answer.
Besides being economical and fast, this design has other advantages; no exhaust fumes in your face like the east side, protection from the rain and wind, the pathway deck could be perforated steel so you could see the water below, and the whole thing could be wrapped in artistic cyclone fencing to prevent littering and suicide. The need for wind fairings and the deck replacement disappear.
They'll argue that the shipping channel would be obstructed, but there is plenty of room. Unless the Port of Oakland buys more monster cranes from China, finding ten feet of headroom would be easy. Even a boxy tube attached alongside the lower deck on the north side is better than current designs.
I must address a few side issues; coupling bikes with service vehicles is a very, very bad idea, anyone who endorses the cantilevered design is agreeing to have the path closed any time the bridge district needs it. It could be closed for weeks. That local bike coalitions agreed to roadbed replacement as part of the project is a huge fail, it justifies the half billion dollar scare. Plus, the "cantilevered" plan will not hold crowds during major events like the Blue Angels or World Cup.
My idea is the cheapest, the easiest to build and would overcome Bridge authority and bike-hater intransigence. Instead of ten years for a faulty cantilevered path, we could have this one in two.
(I would also like to point out that my plan does not harm the architectural beauty of this great bridge).