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November 28, 2021

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West Coast News Network

Poll Confirms Bridge Path Made Dangerously Windy by New Fence – Streetsblog San Francisco

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition is hearing complaints from cyclists who commute on the Golden Gate Bridge that upgrades to the west side fence pickets have had an unforeseen consequence–dangerous crosswinds are now knocking cyclists over. Not satisfied with anecdotes, the MCBC set out to quantify the problem. As previously reported, they took anemometer readings and found wind speeds were two to three times higher by the new pickets as opposed to the old ones.

They also just completed a survey of riders who use the bridge. The results were not encouraging. From an MCBC post:

Over 450 individuals responded, indicating overwhelmingly that they felt the bridge was far less comfortable to ride after the installation of the new pickets. While the railing does not appear to be a problem on low wind days, 84 percent of respondents indicated that things had gotten worse, with 62 percent saying it was “much worse” than before.

The survey, according to MCBC, also indicated that respondents were “…predominantly experienced riders, with the majority crossing the bridge by bike on at least a weekly basis and three-quarters having crossed in the last month. This makes them (1) the people most likely to recognize a problem, and (2) least likely to be affected by it, given their experience riding. This is important to note, considering the great number of tourists on rental bikes who use the bridge, many of whom may be much less steady on a bike.”

GGB-Question-5-high-speed

“I think the headline issue is that there is a systemic undercount of bicycle crashes on the bridge. Of the 456 people who completed the survey, 59 said that they have had wind-related crashes this year (compared to the seven total on-bridge bike crashes reported in the [Golden Gate Bridge District] General Manager’s reports through May). And this doesn’t seem to be just a problem with minor crashes. Despite six respondents saying that they had required medical attention after their crash, only one was reported to the District,” explained the MCBC’s Warren Wells.

The legacy bridge pickets (left) and new pickets (right). Photo: MCBC
The legacy bridge pickets (left) and new pickets (right). Photo: MCBC

And this probably doesn’t include tourists who may have fallen and wouldn’t know about the MCBC survey.

The bridge district is already working on solutions to the harmonic “singing” of the bridge thanks to the new pickets. The MCBC wants the district to include mitigation measures for cyclists in the study and picket modification.

The Bridge District Board of Directors is having its monthly meeting tomorrow/Friday, June 25th at 10 a.m. MCBC recommends riders call in and share their experiences of how the new bridge railing has affected their rides. Call in at (415) 569-6446 and give comment during open time (Item 4 on the agenda). Riders can also submit a written comment to districtsecretary@goldengate.org.

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