Plans to connect downtown San Francisco and the East Bay through a walking and biking route are underway, with hopes to provide pedestrians and cyclists with a Bay Bridge path as early as 2030.
This pathway is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Skyway initiative, which aims to link the East Bay to Treasure Island and downtown San Francisco with a low-cost transportation option for Bay Area residents.
According to Bay Area Toll Authority project manager Gavin Lohry, the plan’s current focus includes the West Oakland Link, which will provide the West Oakland community with a connection to the Bay Bridge Trail.
Lohry noted that the first phase also involves connecting a path from Yerba Buena Island to Treasure Island, where bikers and walkers can access a frequent ferry to San Francisco.
Depending on the ability to gain funding, Lohry hopes to have the first phase completed by the end of 2027.
“It relies a lot on grants that we’re applying for at the state and federal level,” Lohry said. “It’s going to take public support to get this kind of funding.”
Lohry emphasized that funding for the second phase of the project, which involves construction on the western span of the Bay Bridge, has not yet been identified and that the project remains in its early planning stages. Goals to complete the second phase by the end of 2030 are on a best-case-scenario basis.
Bryan Culbertson, a member of East Bay for Everyone, an organization that supports the creation of walking and biking zones between the East Bay and San Francisco, stated in an email that he supports both the Bay Skyway plan and the Rails to Trail Quick-Build Shared-Use Path, which proposes the efficient construction of a path on the Bay Bridge.
“This pathway is a crucial link between SF and all the East Bay that will reduce pollution caused by car travel, and provide equitable access between Bay Area communities,” Culbertson said in the email.
Culbertson added that the path would have a usage rate of 4,000 people per hour at peak hours, making it much more popular than pedestrian and biking use of the Golden Gate Bridge.
However, Lohry noted that the main concerns with the plan have been that active transportation users would be exposed to air pollution while using these pathways, particularly with the West Oakland link. Moving forward, Lohry said the Bay Area Toll Authority will consider ways to mitigate or provide education on this concern.
According to Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Supervisor Jason Patton, the path would create more biking destinations and connect commuters and recreational cyclists by allowing them to avoid crowding on the BART and traffic from other transportation methods.
“The project would close a major gap for bicycling between the San Francisco Financial District and West Oakland, downtown Oakland and the dense neighborhoods around Lake Merritt,” Patton said in an email.