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New Bay Bridge bikeway exciting, but falls short

The new bike path being constructed on the eastern side of the Bay Bridge was dubbed the “bike path to nowhere” last September for connecting Oakland to Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands (nowhere) but not all the way to San Francisco (everywhere).

However, Bay Area cycling enthusiasts are still excited about the path’s quality, uniqueness and potential to someday provide a bike route between Oakland and The City.

When construction finishes in September, bicyclists and pedestrians will be able to access the new bikeway from a path that begins at the Emeryville Ikea parking lot, heads south under a freeway maze, and then alongside the freeway on a 15-and-a-half foot wide promenade. The promenade is dotted with belvederes, or areas with benches where you can stop to take a breather and admire a totally new view of the Bay.

Clive Endress, a landscape architect who helped design the bridge bikeway, described the new path to CBS San Francisco:

“It’s 2 miles from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island, and it’s all about the experience, what it feels like to be on the bridge.”

This experience is superior to your average bike path: the bikeway was built slightly away from the Bay Bridge, almost floating alongside. Cyclists might worry about the close proximity to heavy traffic — and thus pollution — but architects answered that concern with vents that draw away exhaust from passing cars.

However, many locals and organizations, such as the SF Bicycle Coalition, have not abated their clamor for a western extension of the path that would finally bridge the gap between Oakland and San Francisco. This would allow commuters an alternative to driving across the bridge, as well as create a surely popular recreational bike and pedestrian path for the Bay Area.

Design chief Steve Hulsebus told CBS-SF:

“We’re gonna get people halfway to Yerba Buena Island from Oakland, the real goal is to get all the way to San Francisco from Oakland. Then it can be a transportation facility and not just a recreational bike path.”

But unfortunately, that might be about $1 billion and a decade off, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In the meantime, keep any eye out for a Bay Area Toll Authority study on the possibility of a path to San Francisco, due out later this year.

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