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Bay Bridge Bicycle & Pedestrian Path Opens To Fanfare

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Bicyclists and pedestrians head westbound along the new Bay Bridge bike path. (CBS)

Bicyclists and pedestrians head westbound along the new Bay Bridge bike path. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – For the first time, the Bay Bridge is now accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Hours after Bay Area drivers were first allowed to cross the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span on Monday night, dozens of people pedaled and walked on the span’s newly opened bike and pedestrian path Tuesday morning.

The path opened to the public around 11:30 a.m. Oakland city leaders and transit officials were on hand to dedicate it to the late Oakland city planner and longtime bicycle advocate Alexander Zuckermann.

A green-and-white sign bearing his name was unveiled at the entrance to the path in Oakland as cars whizzed past on the parallel roadway.

Zuckermann founded the East Bay Bicycle Coalition in 1972 and lobbied the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for years to bring greater bike accessibility to Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area.

His two sons, daughter-in-law and granddaughters attended Tuesday’s dedication ceremony.

Zuckermann had a “vision of a Bay Area where cycling was accepted as an everyday means of transportation,” his son David told the crowd at the dedication ceremony.

At the ceremony’s end, more than 100 cyclists got a chance to live out that vision and headed out across the new path, which stretches nearly 2 miles west from Oakland.

Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon said the bike path should be completed by early 2015 and will provide access to Yerba Buena Island.

On Tuesday morning, many cycling enthusiasts preparing to embark on their first journey across the path said they were eager to take advantage of the unprecedented access.

“I never thought I’d see this happen,” Alamo resident Suzie Telles said.

Another cyclist getting ready to head onto the bridge, Betsy Mathieson, of Alameda, said she bikes to her job in downtown Oakland every day and believes biking is becoming an increasingly important way to protect the environment.

“We don’t need two tons of steel to move our bodies from home to work,” she said.

During the dedication ceremony, Oakland city staffers, Caltrans employees and dozens of Bay Area biking enthusiasts watched a performance by a lion dancing and martial arts group and heard from East Bay mayors Jean Quan, Amy Worth, and Kurt Brinkman, from Oakland, Orinda and Emeryville, respectively.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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