Update, 1:45 p.m. Friday: Caltrans just made it official: The agency will open the final segment of the Bay Bridge Trail, the cycling and pedestrian path from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island, around noon on Sunday.
The path will be open to a landing area at the island end of the bridge. From there, shuttles will be available to take people back and forth to Treasure Island.
The shuttles, which are set to operate every half hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on days the path is open, are designed to keep people off Hillcrest Road, which leads to Treasure Island.
Chris Cassidy, communications director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said transportation officials and cycling and pedestrian advocates consider the route exceptionally hazardous: steep, poorly paved, lacking sidewalks and an artery for traffic heading to and from the bridge.
“I’ve biked for a long time in and around San Francisco, and I’d take advocates’ warnings very seriously about Hillcrest,” Cassidy said Friday. “We fought for these shuttles and strongly recommend you use them to access the remainder of the island.”
The shuttles are expected to accommodate eight to 12 passengers and be equipped with racks that can carry eight bikes.
Original post, 4:27 p.m Thursday: It’s a decision seemingly wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but officials at Caltrans may have made up their minds to open the final leg of the Bay Bridge bike and pedestrian path to Yerba Buena Island this Sunday, Oct. 23.
Officials at the agency on Thursday declined to discuss the opening date, though cycling advocates and others have been suggesting the bike path would open by the end of the month.
But Caltrans may have let the cat out of the bag by way of a bike-path calendar for October and November.
The calendar says, in part, “The Bay Bridge bike path will be open on the 2-mile long bridge this winter on weekends and holidays from Oakland to the YBI [Yerba Buena Island] landing from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.”
Sunday, Oct. 23, is marked as a day the path will be open.
So, maybe that’s a scoop — OK, a mini-scoop — maybe it’s not. But there are a couple more things to note in the little bit of information divulged on the calendar:
First, the path will be open only to the “landing” area at its Yerba Buena Island end. Officials have described the area as a busy construction zone, and it’s not clear whether cyclists would be allowed to proceed down an adjacent road and on to Treasure Island.
Second, the calendar pointedly says there are “no parking or pedestrian facilities on YBI.” The takeaway from that: Those who want to walk the path need to park at the Oakland end and make the 2-mile-plus hike out to the island and back. (Eventually, the agencies involved in the Bay Bridge Trail project plan to set up shuttles to carry pedestrians and less experienced cyclists from the path down to Treasure Island and back. Work continues on a nearby vista point for cyclists and walkers, but that feature is not expected to open for several weeks.)
Third, the calendar reinforces the current rather disappointing reality for eager cyclists and walkers: The path will be closed virtually every weekday between now and Thanksgiving because of demolition work on the old eastern span. On the other hand, the path is scheduled to be open every weekend in November, with a four-day opening on Thanksgiving weekend.
And there’s one other major piece of Bay Bridge work to note this weekend: On Saturday, Caltrans will open a new, improved ramp from the bridge’s eastern span to Yerba Buena Island. The new ramp switches the exit from the left to the right side of the roadway.