richmond san rafael bridge

Dreamstime

On Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Drivers Want To Take Bike Lane

Jeffrey Schaub
January 29, 2019 - 10:40 am

SAN RAFAEL — There's more traffic than ever on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge into Marin County, and the morning commute has become, for many drivers, a daily nightmare.  

"Traffic has increased by about 21 percent," according to Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly, who said the congestion starts on Interstate 580 and develops into a bottleneck at the toll plaza.

"We've heard loud and clear from teachers looking to get to the morning bell on time, and other employees in Marin and employers alike," Connelly said. "What can we do?"

It turns out, he and other Marin County leaders have an idea that would benefit motorists at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists.

Caltrans last year opened up a third lane to handle afternoon traffic in the opposite direction into Richmond. Now, Connolly and other officials want Caltrans to do the same for the morning commute by opening up an existing, but unused, third lane to traffic. 

The problem is, there's already a plan to turn that into a path for bike riders and pedestrians. It's part of a four-year-long pilot project that's set to begin this spring. 

Connolly doesn't think that experiment should last four years. "That's too long," he said. "What we're saying is, let's come back in six months after the bike and ped lane opens and take a look."

Eventually, he'd like to see everyone share the road, with rush hour specially carved out for cars. "Really, the idea here is we can utilize that, and make it a shared used situation, where during the A.M. peak, you have vehicle use of the third westbound lane, and all other times, it would be bike or ped."

Written by Diana Shook.