Hundreds of cyclists thronged the Bay Bridge on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the span’s new bicycle and pedestrian path.
Dave Campbell, of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC), called the opening of the path “a huge victory,” adding, “Today we’re enjoying the fruits of over ten years of work.”
A day after the new $6.4 billion East Span of the Bay Bridge opened to traffic, Caltrans inaugurated the new path with a ceremony attended by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, along with representatives from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and dozens of bicycle advocates. The bicycle path is accessible from two access points: one in Emeryville on Shellmound Street across from Ikea, and the other on Maritime Street in West Oakland.
The bike path is dedicated to the late East Bay Bicycle Coalition founder, Alex Zuckermann, an influential Bay Area bike advocate who died in 2007 at 86. Zuckermann fought for years to create bike access across the Bay Bridge, despite funding and engineering concerns.
Zuckermann died from complications related to a brain injury he suffered five years earlier, after falling while riding his bike on the Bay Bridge. Caltrans officials had invited Zuckermann to join a group ride on the bridge while it was closed for construction.
Zuckermann’s two sons, Dave and Ron, were also at the inauguration ceremony.
For now, the bike path stops about 1000 feet short of reaching Yerba Buena Island because the old bridge’s foundation and the S-curve detour stand in the way.
The 15 ½-foot-wide path will only touch down on Yerba Buena once the old bridge is dismantled, a process that could take another two years.
When asked about the timeline and the overall delay of the bridge, Oakland resident Glenn Nunez rolled his eyes. “There are a lot of people that should be embarrassed. I think this went on a little too long.” Nonetheless, he struggled to contain his excitement looking out across the bay from the new path. “It exceeded the hype. It’s a beautiful addition to an already beautiful bridge.”
Carolyn Moore, of Berkeley, said that she appreciated the path and its connection with the Bay Trail but would like to see the path extended all the way to San Francisco. “If [the shore-to-shore bike path] is an option, more and more people will ride.”
The EBBC’s Dave Campbell said that he hopes the western portion of the bike path will be in place by 2020.
For now, the Alexander Zuckermann bike path will remain the world’s longest bike pier.