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Posted: 12:34 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO —
It could be the most expensive bike lane ever built.
Plans are underway to eventually construct a bike and pedestrian lane on the western span of the Bay Bridge with a price tag of a half billion dollars or more.
That was the estimated price tag the Metropolitan Transportation Commission offered up Tuesday night in terms of the cost to complete a bike lane from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco.
The MTC hosted an open house to show off its initial designs for a bike lane across the western span of the Bay Bridge.
"It's a huge amount of money, particularly when you consider there are no dedicated sources of funding right now," said John Goodwin of the MTC.
A bike lane is already under construction on the new east span of the bridge, but that lane will end at Yerba Buena Island leaving riders stuck in the middle of the Bay.
So the MTC is looking at ways of getting bikes across the entire seven mile span from Oakland to the city.
"It's great exercise. Why go to the gym when you can just ride to work?" asked Doug Faunt of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.
Tina Crawford is a long distance cyclist and says a 13 mile ride from her San Francisco home to her job in Emeryville would take just as long as public transit.
"I walk to BART, take BART. I take the Emeryaround in Emeryville. So it's about an hour. So I might as well bike," said Crawford.
The MTC says about 30,000 people in the Bay Area ride their bikes to work.
But some wonder about the jaw-dropping price tag.
"They're laying people off, there's firefighters out of work, there's teachers and police out of work," said Mike Pena of Napa. "I'm a cyclist but come on. Let's be fiscally responsible."
Cyclist Ryan Schaeffer of Lafayette likes the idea, but not now.
"Later on, when we could get the funds to do that, I think a lot of people would benefit from a bike lane," said Schaeffer.
"We spend a lot more on transportation options for cars so I think it's about time we offer this alternative and have a showcase for bike commuting in the Bay Area," countered Crawford.
The MTC says it should come out with a preferred plan for building a bike lane by next summer.
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