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Golden Gate Bridge Officials Delay Vote On Cyclists’ Speed Limit

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A bicyclist rides near the Golden Gate Bridge on National Bike To Work Day May 21, 2010 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A bicyclist rides near the Golden Gate Bridge on National Bike To Work Day May 21, 2010 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Golden Gate Bridge officials agreed Thursday to put off deciding on a proposal to set a 10 mph speed limit for bicyclists on the bridge until more input can be gathered from the Bay Area cycling community.

Several people who spoke at the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District board’s Building and Operating Committee meeting Thursday expressed surprise and resentment that they had not been consulted earlier, even though the concept has been under development for about a year.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

The proposal calls for $100 fines for speeding cyclists in an attempt to reduce accidents on the bridge, but several speakers questioned whether it was a solution in search of a problem rather than an actual issue that needs to be addressed.

Transit staff found that 64 accidents on the bridge have been caused by excessive speed since the year 2000 — on sidewalks that accommodate up to 6,000 bicyclists and 10,000 pedestrians on a busy day.

“This proposal is poorly prepared and unlikely to solve any problems,” San Francisco Bicycle Coalition policy director Andy Thornley said.

Other speakers suggested increasing signage and marking separate lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians in order to increase safety, particularly when the lanes are closed one at a time next month during a retrofit project.

They asked the committee to raise the proposed speed limit and said most bikers do not have speedometers anyway.

The members of the committee appeared to take the speakers’ concerns to heart and agreed to spend at least a month discussing the proposal further before making any decisions.

Staff members were instructed to look into the plan’s logistics, such as how California Highway Patrol members would issue citations. Several board members suggested raising the 10 mph figure, imposing a speed limit at certain times outside of commute hours, or both.

“Ten miles per hour is way too slow,” board member Dave Snyder said. He also said recommendations to ban unicycles on the bridge seemed to be inspired more by liability concerns than by safety issues.

District CEO and General Manager Denis Mulligan said the bridge district had been sued because of injuries on the sidewalks, but that the courts have determined the bridge has immunity.

He said the accident study and ensuing speed-limit proposal were therefore inspired by safety rather than liability concerns, but that they were still kept quiet for months to avoid arming litigation attorneys interested in going after the district.

A few months ago, he started publishing the figures, Mulligan said.

Andy Peri, of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said after Thursday’s meeting that the group knew the speed limit proposal was being developed and had expected to be contacted about it.

Instead, they found out about it two days ago via public announcement.

“We’re happy the proposal is being pushed back, but we really, really like to be part of the process earlier,” he said.

The coalition has worked with the bridge district on several other projects, including parking lot and roadway improvements.

“We have a long and positive relationship,” with the district, he added. “We could easily have been involved earlier without seeing sensitive documents.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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