The Golden Gate Bridge staff wants to impose a 10 mph speed limit on bicyclists – with a $100 fine for violators – following a year-long study by Alta Planning & Design that excluded input from local cycling groups.
The speed limit would drop to 5 mph around the blind corners of the bridge’s towers and in construction areas. There currently is no speed limit for bicycles on the bridge.
The plan is intended to reduce bike-related collisions. With up to 6,000 cyclists using the bridge on busy days, the study says speed was cited as a factor in 64 crashes during the decade from 2000 to 2009. The other 101 bike crashes during that time were attributed to causes like inexperience.
The proposal sparked controversy among cyclists at the hearing April 21, 2011 as outcries forced a delay on the Building and Operating Committee’s decision, together with 60 complaints prior to the hearing. The committee did not feel right about the anger and frustration of the cycling community.
Bicyling organizations claimed to be intentionally excluded from a year-long $25,000 study of cycling safety. They claimed the proposed speed limit law was a “solution in search of a problem.”
The committee vote was put off indefinitely with the plan to work together with the cycling community to refine the proposal. I am very gratified to learn the committee is working with the bicycle community, not just imposing new rules which may or may not be good for users of the bridge.
As an avid bicyclist and zealous San Francisco Bicycle Attorney I know how good for the rider and the community bicycling can be, but I personally believe that safety comes first. I’m a proud sponsor of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and member of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. The primary goal of most bicycle coalitions is to promote bicycling both as recreation and as a viable form of daily travel and to enhance bicycle safety. Bicycle groups also are concerned with any policy which will discourage bicycling.
Bicycle travel between Marin county and San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge brings up some complex issues. There are also thousands of tourists and pedestrians on the bridge, making it necessary to create special biking zones on the weekends on the west side of the bridge. Cycling is great fun but I can also understand the Alta Planning & Design concerns about the head-on collisions due to the speed of some of the bikers, especially around the bridge towers.
A bicycle accident, especially on the Golden Gate Bridge with enclosed traffic on one side and a treacherous ocean often with high winds on the other, can be deadly for both pedestrians and bicyclists. Injuries such as head injuries, bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, or other serious injuries can occur. I hope all concerned will remember that if bicycling is safer, we will be encouraging bicycling and enhancing the image of cyclists in our community.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about California bicycle laws or bicycle safety, especially on the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d be glad to speak with you free of charge.