April 28, 2011
There is a proposal on the table to reduce the speed limit for bikes on the GGB to 10mph in order to reduce bike vs. pedestrian accidents. And, tickets might be issued for “speeders.” I guess my first reaction is … Really? Don’t we have better things to worry about? In all my years of bike commuting across the GGB I haven’t seen a single accident. Zip. I’ve seen and been involved in some close calls, but no accidents. I’ve seen plenty of car accidents, however. According to a recent and well-balanced piece by Will Reisman in the San Francisco Examiner, there have been 164 bike accidents on the bridge in the past 10 years. Wow. I’m actually a bit shocked, but here is my guess—most of those accidents happened during the hours when bikes have to share the East Sidewalk with the throngs of tourists that crowd the sidewalk about 11 months out of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tourists, for the most part. They are very entertaining, but I’m glad to ride early in the morning when there is only a runner or two and commute bikers who, for the most part, know what they are doing.
In the afternoon the West Sidewalk opens (after 3:30pm), and except for the occasional oblivious walker (they aren’t allowed on that side), it is only bikes. Again, the commuters and even the hammer head bikers are for the most part pretty good. Although, I have to admit that I’ve seen some real macho Armstrong wannabees out there riding like they own the world and the bridge sidewalk.
But, the tourists on bikes are a disaster. I’m a sensitive commuter, and I can only guess what it would be like to see the bridge for the first time, but they are ALL over the place. More than once I’ve had to stop during my afternoon commute to ask a bevy of tourist bikers to, um, please not block the entire sidewalk. Kids weave all over the place on their rentals, or run across the sidewalk to take a photo. Not good.
I think this quote in Reisman’s 4/20 Examiner article not only sums it up but also throws out an interesting idea:
"The real problem out there is all the tourists. They never have any idea what they’re doing, and they’re the ones who are putting people in harm’s way. A better idea would be to put all the bicycle renters on the sidewalk with the pedestrians, and open up the west side for recreational bicyclists."
— A recreational bicyclist from San Francisco
This will be an interesting issue to follow.
In other news …
Velo Vino: I
received an interesting release in my inbox the other day from Velo Vino in Napa Valley. No,
they didn’t give me any bling or freebies, but the site does combine three of
my favorite things: Riding, Clif Bars, and Wine! Heck, even bike commuters need
to let their hair down and have a good time now and again. Consider a visit.
Upper Fort Mason Detour: Anyone on the commute road this past week already knows this, but FYI, the park service is repaving the paths that criss-cross Upper Fort Mason, forcing bikers to basically circle all the way around on the Bay Street side. You can freewheel (or wing it) and choose your route from there.