From the inspired to the imaginative, the ideas for a sky path connecting Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco are anything but dull.
Designs range from gradual inclines to dizzying spiral ramps, taking cyclists and pedestrians 150 feet from the ground to the Bay Bridge.
“I think if you’re whimsical, if you like Dr. Seuss, you’re probably going to think it’s a great idea,” Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy Rentschler said.
The designs are the first part of the MTC’s $10 million study to find out if a Bay Bridge bike and pedestrian path is feasible and affordable.
“Whenever you try to retrofit an 80-year-old anything – be it a bathroom or kitchen in your house or a bike path on the Bay Bridge – it’s likely to be hard and likely to be expensive,” Rentschler said.
Rough estimates for the 2.9-mile path is $500 million. Coalition Bike East Bay thinks this number can come down to $300 million by going with the simpler designs.
The group, made up of 4,000 cyclists, says the cost is worth it even if it just offers a little traffic relief on the bridge.
“There are a lot of folks who live in the East Bay and commute to San Francisco who are very eager to commute by bike. It’s a doable commute: there are people who ride from Marin to San Francisco now,” Bike East Bay’s executive director Renee Rivera said.
If the plan passes the Legislature, it could go on the 2018 ballot, asking voters to approve toll increases of $1 on all spans in the Bay Area, minus the Golden Gate Bridge.
Not all cyclists are in agreement with spending hundreds of millions, even if it means completing a 55-mile loop between the East Bay, San Francisco and Marin County. The bike path on the Richmond-to-San Rafael bridge is expected to open in 2017.
“They’re going about it all wrong,” former pro-cyclist Robert Muzzy said.
He proposes something simpler, and that would not involve building new structures: take a lane away from cars and turn it into a bike path.
“It would be so much less expensive, structurally it would be so much easier, and it would just annoy a bunch of motorists,” Muzzy said. “It’s just one more way we need to encourage people to drive less, take transit, ride your bike. Cars -- they’re not the future.”
MTC says a big challenge is creating a path that won’t weigh down the bridge. This may cause the bridge to sag and prevent megaships from entering the Port of Oakland.
There is plenty of time, though. Transit leaders say even if the proposal passes through the legislature, they do not expect any construction for a minimum of eight years.