Author Topic: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge  (Read 372 times)

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Offline bikersbishop

how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« on: February 18, 2021, 03:54:57 pm »
I'm an author working on a novel in which the protagonist crosses the Golden Gate Bridge on a loaded touring bicycle. I'm wondering about the pitch of the bridge, meaning would he notice pedaling resistance "climbing" to the middle of it, and would he coast from the middle until he dismounts the bridge? I assume the bridge arches so that it's higher in the middle than on either end but I'm wondering if I'm overestimating the grade of the bridge - or the effect of it. It's hard to tell from watching Youtube videos. Could anyone help me better understand the grade?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Offline John Nettles

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2021, 04:02:08 pm »
I don't remember the grade that much (years ago) but one thing that unnerved me is that the bridge has a bounce to it.  You literally, not figuratively, feel the bridge do a bounce. Very unnerving to me.
Best of luck with the book.

Offline John Nelson

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2021, 05:11:09 pm »
For all practical purposes, the roadway of the bridge is flat. There are some bridges that are notably arched (e.g., the Coronado Bridge in San Diego), but the Golden Gate bridge is not one of them. I've ridden a loaded touring bike across the Golden Gate bridge, and there is not a climb there.

Most bridges are arched to let ships underneath. But the Golden Gate bridge is already 265 feet above the water, so there isn't much need to arch it. There is a slight slope to the roadway, but it's only for aesthetic appeal. They could have made the roadway perfectly flat if they wanted to.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2021, 05:21:24 pm by John Nelson »

Offline staehpj1

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2021, 05:18:03 pm »
It has been years, but I don't recall the change in height being very noticeable.  I think it is higher in the middle, but not a lot.  Maybe someone who has ridden it more recently will remember how much they coasted.  It isn't like you really climb and descend much like on some bridges though.

Offline jamawani

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2021, 05:35:40 pm »
Once on the bridge, the grade is negligible.
But there is a steep climb from the S.F. waterfront in Fort Mason.
Also there's a moderately steep climb out of Sausalito.
5% to 7% on both sides - -
Nothing an experienced touring cyclist would have any trouble with.
But they would certainly be going slow and, maybe, stopping for the view, too.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2021, 05:23:20 am »
There might be some rise but I did not notice it. I had to haul all my gear down a set of steps and up another set to get onto it. I would not say it has no rise at all. You would need a surveyor and level to measure that, but as far as I remember it was pretty much just flat. There may have been a small rise/fall at the south end. They must have elevations for the bridge on google somewhere.

Offline bikersbishop

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2021, 11:48:30 am »
Thank you all so much. This has been very helpful.

Offline hikerjer

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2021, 01:27:52 pm »
The grade on the bridge is a non-issue. However, there is somehthig that I  wasn't even vaguely aware of that severly impacted my ride acros the bridge in a very negative way on my cross-country ride (Portland - San Francisco - Savannah) two years ago  and that is how crowded it was with bicyclists. There are several tour companieson on either side of the bay that rent out bicycles to tourists who want to cross the bridge in that manner. There are literaly hundreds of bicycles on the narrow bike path going both directions across the bridge. It was obvious many of them had probably not ridden a bicycle since they were kids.  It was so crowded that at times you had to get off and walk your bike. Having panniers protruding out on each side of the bike certainly didn't help with the clearance. The rudeness of many of the people riding bikes didn't add much enjoyment to the mix. Most of them had no idea of cycling etiquette. It really was quite a shock. Here I was expecting a beautiful serene ride sailing along while enjoying the incredible scenery on one of the worlds most iconic locales while in fact, I could hardly take my eyes off the road immediately in front of me.  Besides, it was windy, cold and foggy.  Certaily not the romatic ride I had imagined.  You might want to consider this in your story.

I don't know if it's still that way. It seems to me I reall an articale somewhere where the city councils of San Fransico and Sausalito wre considering measures to adress the "biccyle problem on the Golden Gate".

Seems to me I read an article somewhere that the cities of San Francisco and Saulsalito were considering measures to deal with the issue. I don't know if anything has been done to address the problem.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 01:41:52 pm by hikerjer »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2021, 05:20:48 pm »
I had no idea there were issues with bicycles on the golden gate bridge. It was not so very crowded when I crossed it north to south. That was September 1993.

Offline aggie

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2021, 06:07:39 pm »
Jamawani gives a good description of the bridge and its approaches.  I rode it about 10 years ago in the morning.  Not many tourists at that time in the morning.  Also rode along the waterfront which was interesting and pleasant.

Offline hikerjer

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2021, 06:55:33 pm »
Things may have changed. Like I said, I rode it  a couple of years ago. I think it was early afternoon in August and it was a circus. While not a terrible experience, it certinly wasn't a plasant one.  Once I got across the bridge and into San Francisco proper, I found the ridigng surpisingly easy and enjoyable. Rode all over not really knowning where I was going until in the early eveing I  caught the BART to my son's's home in the East Bay area. Other than crossing the Golden Gate, I found cycling in San Fransciso to be remarlably easly adn plaesant.

Offline TCS

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2021, 07:13:11 pm »
The pedestrian/cycling decks on either side make two ungenerous 90º turns getting around the towers.

"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline jamawani

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2021, 09:21:25 pm »
The pedestrian/cycling decks on either side make two ungenerous 90º turns getting around the towers.

But that gives you a moment to appreciate the towers' magnificence.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2021, 03:33:13 am »
I've ridden across a few times, and should mention that the the problem is not only the the bicycles but even more so just the number of tourist including families with kids, walking across the bridge.  It is a ride you have to be careful and slow on the bike.  There is a mild grade but not significant.  I was not riding a loaded touring bike but was just riding in the city for a day ride and enjoyed a jaunt over to Sausalito and Mill Valley since I lived there for a couple years many years ago.  By the way, all of the pedestrian and bicycle traffic is on the E side of the bridge (most all the tourist company bicycles are traveling north across the bridge from SF to Sausalito and they come back to the city on the ferry). 


Both times I went across I made the return ride back to the city on the W (the ocean side) of the bridge, because the west side was only open during the late afternoon and it was also only open for bicycles -no pedestrians allowed on that side.  If I'm not mistaken it was open in the afternoons to help with bicycle commuters.    Like Hikerjer I have not been down for a couple years.  But since you reminded me, I think I should take a day in the City again as soon as Covid allows.


Cheers Nyimbo

Offline Rixtoy

Re: how steep is the grade of the Golden Gate Bridge
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2021, 08:51:39 am »
Holy Moley!
I did a random search on the subject and encountered a staff report that will be presented this Friday to the Golden Gate Board of Commissioners.

Here is a link to the report and an associated study from a couple of years ago: https://www.goldengate.org/assets/1/25/2021-0225-bocomm-no7-bicyclesafetystudy.pdf?6560

I had no clue as to the volume, SPEED and number of daily accidents of bikes on this bridge.

Here are some of the summary findings - what a hot mess - commuters travelling across at a very fast clip, combined with the thousand of families who rent from the Bike the Bridge companies where some people haven't ridden a bike in years. Just Wow!

8,000 BIKES PER DAY in 2015 and it has only increased. Read the full report for data by hour, by month, and by day. Important if you are planning to cross, I think.


« Last Edit: February 23, 2021, 08:55:37 am by Rixtoy »