Riding the Brand-Spankin’ New Bay Bridge

The new western span of the Bay Bridge

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge

It officially opened this week.  On Tuesday, September 3, the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, connecting Oakland to Yerba Buena Island, was open for business.  $6.4 billion dollars and twenty-four years (since the 1989 earthquake) in the making.  It is a thing of beauty.

We decided to hop on our bikes and get an up-close look  via the dedicated pedestrian bike path that runs along side the bridge’s southern flank.  We joined the Bay Trail bike path in Emeryville (right next to the IKEA) and zipped along the easy, flat trail, two miles to the bridge start.  From there it’s a gradual uphill, 2.2 miles to an abrupt endpoint at Yerba Buena Island.  We’ll all have to wait until 2015 for bike access to YBI until portions of the old bridge standing in the way are dismantled.

It was a gorgeous day for a ride, but even without the glamorous sunshine and blue skies, the bridge would be beautiful. Sparkling and shimmering white with it’s lacy suspension cables and elegant single tower. Everything is shiny and new. The white of the bridge beautifully echos the white container cranes arching out from the nearby Port of Oakland.


In contrast, the old Bay Bridge (built in 1936) lurks right alongside, looking derelict and sad, like an ugly stepsister to the elegant, young structure. As we stood in one of the handily placed rest areas, looking over at the old bridge, you couldn’t help but marvel that, until September 3, we were all driving on that thing.

Old and new, side by side

Old and new, side by side

Of course we weren’t the only people with the idea to ride or walk across the bridge on its inaugural weekend.  But the crowds made it all the more fun.  Every facet of Bay Area humanity was out there – little old ladies with sun umbrellas, families with baby strollers, dogs on leashes, police officers on specially equipped bikes, bicycles built for two, folks in wheelchairs, bike clubs whizzing by in formation, children on tricycles, and babies in papooses.  And everywhere you looked (everywhere!) – cameras.  Cell phones, smart phones, 35 mm, movie cameras, tablets – snap, snap, snapping away.  I even saw more than one bicyclist with a head-mounted movie camera, filming the entire ride. Interestingly, I did not see one person sporting  Google Glass.

For those of you unlucky enough to not live in the Bay Area, you can experience the bridge yourself with the Bay Bridge Simulation app.  You heard me.

Here are a few other Bay Bridge resources:

The Bay Bridge Oral History Project

The Bay Bridge Memory Wall (Facebook)

BayBridge 360

Bay Bridge Construction Cams

Bridging the Bay (collaborative UC Berkeley exhibit)



Filed under Reflections

5 responses to “Riding the Brand-Spankin’ New Bay Bridge

  1. Neil Heyden

    One fellow new brIdge-walker to another looking at the old bridge: “It just looks like World War ll, doesn’t it?”

  2. Wow! Thanks for the links! I checked out the simulation, because even though I live in SF, I have a small fear of traversing bridges! Also, I am surprised no Google glass peeps. I applied a year ago, but alas….no glass 🙂 Thanks again for great information.

  3. Lovely report. I wish I could’ve been riding alongside you. But thanks for all those resource links…makes me feel as if I’m not 3000 miles away.

  4. rheyden

    You bet, Jessica. Yes, I was surprised by the lack of Google Glass people. Where were they?

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