31 August 2013

Across The Bay

One of my more memorable one-day bike rides took me across the Golden Gate Bridge.

From Cyclelicio.us

Although, if I recall correctly, there is an ample guard rail on the side of the bike lane, I don't recommend the ride (or, for that matter, a walk across the bridge) to agoraphobics. The span itself is about 2.7 km long, and in the middle of it, you can see only the water beneath and on either side of you, and distant land in front of you.  

I haven't crossed the span in a long time.  But the memory of my ride was still fresh on 17 October 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck California.  If you were watching the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants--the two Major League Baseball teams on either side of the Bay--you saw the quake strike as the two teams were warming up for a game scheduled that day.   

If you weren't paying attention to fall baseball, you saw later images of the quake, including those of the San Francsico-Oakland Bay Bridge, on which a portion of the upper deck collapsed.  The bridge later reopened, but questions were raised.

Thankfully, the Golden Gate Bridge wasn't damaged.  Still, I couldn't help but to visualize myself on it at the moment of the quake. I've been on drawbridges when they opened; I knew that the vibrations from an earthquake would be many orders of magnitude stronger than anything I experienced.  And, of course, had the quake moved in a slightly different direction, a part of the Golden Gate could have fallen out.

I recalled my ride, the day of the 'quake and my reaction when I saw an announcement someone sent me.  The eastern span of the new Bay Bridge will open on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, at 5 am.  The adjacent bike lane will open at the same time. The eastern span of the old bridge will be torn down as the western span of the new bridge is completed.

East Span of new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

I want to bike the Golden Gate again some day. And I'd like to cycle the new Bay Bridge to compare the rides--and, of course, the views.  

(I must say, I feel kind of sorry for both the old and new Bay Bridges.  The new structure looks like it will be lovely, and the old one wasn't bad. But they both have to compete aesthetically with the Golden Gate.  That's not a fair fight for any bridge!)


  1. Bridges each have their own charm - like the Brooklyn Bridge, for example.

  2. Steve--You're so right. The BB is one of my favorites, as is the Golden Gate. I'm also partial to the Pont Neuf, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the London Bridge, Ponte Vecchio and Prague's Charles Bridge. But you have to admit that putting another beautiful bridge so close to any of these almost isn't fair.

  3. We are in the Bay Area this week visiting my sister on-lawm just in time for the Bay Bridge opening. Our friend rode his motorcycle over the bridge soon after it opeened. But I'm going to wait to ride my bike over. From news reports, traffic has been horrendous. I'll wait patiently until our next visit.

  4. MT--Unless I expected not to return to the Bay Area in the near future, I'd probably wait, too. I hope you enjoy your visit.