Thursday, August 13, 2009

Love Your Bike Lanes: Golden Gate Avenue

Ten years ago Golden Gate Avenue carried three lanes of traffic: two travelling east and one west. Why did this residential street need three lanes? When the Central Freeway still hunkered over Market Street and helped blight Hayes Valley, Golden Gate served as a freeway feeder for motorists from the western and northern neighborhoods. But after the Loma Prieta earthquake and three ballot-box battles tamed the Central Freeway to its current drop-down, Golden Gate was relieved of its freeway duty.

NOPNA reps asked the Department of Parking and Traffic to remove one of the eastbound lanes after the freeway re-configuration. But DPT advised, "It seems like you've got a solution looking for a problem." Things do change (even if the same DPT official is now part of the Municipal Transportation Authority). A few years later, the city did indeed remove one of the eastbound lanes, and Mike Sallaberry, working for the MTA Bike Program, managed to get Golden Gate striped as a bike lane. (Tip of the cycling helmet to Mike who continues to work for bicycle improvements at MTA).

The bike lane on Golden Gate runs eastbound from from Parker Street amid the USF campus to Divisadero. The stretch from Broderick to Divis revs up some cyclists who wait at the top of the hill for the light to change on Divis and then power down with gravity doing the work to Divis and several blocks further. The risk averse opt out of the slalom run knowing red light runners (we're talking motorists) at Divis can make for a nasty collision at high bike speed. Eastbound, the GG lane begins at the juncture with the Baker Street bike lane and continues to Parker.

Savvy cyclists heading to the Richmond from the Civic Center or Mission take McAllister or the Wiggle to Baker, then right on Baker to Golden Gate for a westbound route with less of a climb around the Lone Mountain elevation to Parker, Turk, and then Cabrillo or Arguello.

Is Golden Gate the best east-bound route to the Civic Center and Market Street? Depends on your risk tolerance. It's a great ride to Broderick. If you're seeking a bit more cycling serenity, you'd do better taking a right to catch one of NOPA's other eastbound routes. See future post for the best of those (in the meantime, take McAllister).


  1. Hey Mike! That's me on the bike, thanks for getting my good side.

  2. Troy: one of the daring Broderick to Divis riders!