San Francisco copes with Fourth of July chaos on Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk 

Monday may have been the Fourth of July, but for pedestrians and bicyclists trying to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, it was no vacation.

Due to the recent closure of the span’s western sidewalk — normally reserved strictly for cyclists during the weekends and holidays — bikers and walkers were crammed into the eastern sidewalk, making for a chaotic scene of near-misses, close calls and plenty of traffic bottlenecks.

The Fourth of July was the first holiday on the bridge since the western sidewalk was shut down for four months due to seismic retrofit work.

“This is horrible,” said Heidi Spreng, a Russian Hill resident who regularly bikes across the bridge. “I actually didn’t feel safe out there. I think next time I’ll just drive across the bridge and go biking in Marin.”

Vikki Tobak and her husband, Bijan Salehizadeh, walked across the bridge on Monday with their two sons Cameron, 6, and Nick, 4. Tobak said it was extremely stressful trying to keep an eye on her children in the midst of all the activity.

“I don’t think I would do this again with my kids,” said Tobak, a Peninsula resident. “There is just too much going on.”

Robbie Kane and Angela McLoughlin, visiting from Dublin, Ireland, rented bikes for the day to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. However, they were not told by Blazing Saddles that they’d be sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians.

“We were going to try and bike across,” said McLoughlin. “But we realized pretty quickly that there would be no way we could do that. We’ll have to walk our bikes across, which sucks.”

The situation isn’t likely to get any better any time soon. The seismic retrofit work, being carried out on the span’s massive north anchorage, isn’t projected to be finished until October. In the interim, officials from the Golden Gate Bridge district said they would monitor activity on the sidewalk to make sure things go smoothly. However, that gave little solace to the thousands of people who traversed the iconic structure Monday.

“They could at least have some signs up here telling people to slow down or be careful,” Spreng said. “It seems like no one is in charge here.”

The bridge district plans to paint striping on the sidewalk to split up pedestrians and bicyclists, said spokeswoman Mary Currie.

Caring about sharing

10,000 Pedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge during a busy weekend day or holiday

6,000 Bicyclists on the bridge during a busy weekend day or holiday

May 31 Beginning of west sidewalk closure

4 Months the west sidewalk will be closed

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Will Reisman

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