According to Bike East Bay, after more than twenty years of advocacy, an unused shoulder on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has been converted into a bike path, and is slated to open on November 16, 2019.
Throughout this project, officials in Marin County have pushed back, advocating for more accommodation for cars. Through relentless advocacy Bike East Bay not only managed to get buy-in from the Metropolitan Transit Commission, but were able to win an additional $500,000 in funding. In addition, they achieved better ferry service and bike lane connections to connect Richmond neighborhoods to the bridge, the waterfront, the ferry system, and other East Bay neighborhoods.
The argument is always the same: more lanes for cars, at the expense of bicycle and pedestrian access on the bridge. Opponents are not talking about how this project affects residents of Richmond neighborhoods near the bridge, why commuter traffic to Marin is increasing, or how we make transportation decisions as a region.
Bike East Bay’s role as a regional organization is to see the big picture and create connections across boundaries wherever we can: bridges, transit, and networks especially. We shaped the agreement for bicycle access on the bridge. When attempts were made to commandeer the project for cars, we pushed back, and asked for more, winning an additional $500,000 for improvements to connect Richmond neighborhoods to the bridge, the waterfront, ferry service, and each other.
The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge project is about the reality of what it costs to commute to, but not live in, Marin. More workers are crossing the bridge because they can’t afford to live in Marin County. Congestion will continue to be an issue no matter how many vehicle lanes are opened if Marin County doesn’t address its woeful lack of affordable housing.
According to the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC):
Performance of the new bike/ped path will be monitored and assessed continually as hard data becomes available on the use of the path by bicyclists and pedestrians, and operational adjustments will be made as needed. This evaluation will include a before-and-after study conducted by Caltrans and the University of California’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) program.
The study is slated to be completed in mid-2020, at which time the MTC will be able to make recommendations on how to better integrate the new bike path on the bridge with infrastructure projects in both Marin and western Contra Costa counties.