Golden Gate Bridge officials propose 15 MPH bike speed limit, with 5 MPH limit when passing.
You might remember the hub bub last April when Alta Planning proposed a 10 MPH bicycle speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge. When cyclists showed up at the subsequent Golden Gate board meeting to complain, the board members said they would reconsider the plan.
Bridge officials promised to have another proposal in July 2011, but they sent up this trial balloon of a 15 MPH speed limit for bicycles and 5 MPH limit when passing pedestrians .
The Golden Gate Bridge has sidewalks on either side of the bridge. Fast recreational enthusiasts and commuters share the narrow east span with tourists on rental bikes and walkers. The local enthusiasts and commuters just want to get to the other side fast, while the tourists (understandably) want to enjoy the view. They dawdle. They stop. They soak in that wonderful Golden Gate vibe.
If you have trail conflicts between walkers and cyclists in your neighborhood, multiply that by about a hundred on the GGB. On a weekend day, about 10,000 walkers and nearly 5,000 cyclists use the GGB sidewalks. Unlike most busy paths, however, path users cannot just step off of the trail into the adjoining grass — on the Bridge sidewalks, you have Highway 1 traffic hurtling past at 45 MPH on one side, while the Pacific ocean churns through the Golden Gate 270 feet below on the other side.
Bridge officials tell us, however, that the injury causing crashes are typically head on collisions between local enthusiasts. Mulligan told the Chron that somebody leaves the Bridge sidewalks on an ambulance about once a month.
More foot and bike traffic than capacity.
Because the west (Pacific) facing sidewalk is now closed due to construction, the speed limit is completely moot. Bicycle riders and walkers currently share the extremely congested narrow walkway on the east (Bay) side of the Bridge. Nobody is travelling greater than 15 MPH, especially on the weekends. There is currently significant conflict between pedestrians and bikes on the GGB, but the proposed speed limits won’t help because they don’t matter.
When the west sidewalk re-opens to bicycle traffic in September 2011, the sidewalks go back to the GGB usual scheduling rules for bicycles and pedestrians. Walkers are never allowed on the west sidewalk, and during times of busier bike traffic (i.e. weekday afternoons and all day on holidays and weekends), bikes are allowed only on the west sidewalk.
My opinion and your opinions.
The justification for a 15 MPH speed limit? Because that’s what everybody else apparently does. “15 mph is a common speed limit on many multi-use paths,” says GGB General Manager Denis Mulligan in the Chronicle story.
Nobody seems to know, however, where this apparent 15 MPH ‘standard’ came from. On California roads, speed limits are set at the 85th percentile speed (approximately one standard deviation above the mean). But for shared use paths, everybody seems to use 15 MPH just because.
The 5 MPH limit is interesting. If I’m cruising at a relaxing 12 MPH on the bridge and get caught behind somebody jogging at 7 MPH, I’m stuck. I’m not allowed to pass. Wouldn’t a Critical Mass of joggers be a real hoot on the bridge sidewalk?
What’s your thought of a 15 MPH speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge? Should the Bridge District spend staff time and consulting time on this issue?