Since its grand opening two weeks ago, the Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path has both enthralled and eluded many visitors. The photos and videos are stunning, but how exactly does one get there? I set out from Lake Merritt on my bike to find out.
There are currently two entrances to the path, one in West Oakland and the other in Emeryville. Though they are not immediately obvious, both entrances are marked with two signs: one is a map of the Bay Bridge project, the other is a giant orange sign that reads “No Island Access.” I chose Lake Merritt as a central starting point for my trip. I biked to the West Oakland entrance and came back via Emeryville. It was a nice loop to experience both entrances to the bike path.
The West Oakland entrance is located off of Maritime Street, a two-lane road without a designated bike lane. The Bay Trail path to this site is still somewhat under construction, so the roads are a bit dicey at times. But if you’ve ever ridden through West Oakland toward Shoreline Park, this shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s an industrial and empty landscape, which is at times interesting and others a bit terrifying (this is also a truck route for the port). The roads are not in great condition and there are numerous gaping potholes to watch out for. That said, the road was pretty quiet and it was a nice change from my everyday riding routes.
Suggested route from Lake Merritt/Uptown:
Take Grand Avenue to Mandela Parkway.*
Turn left on Mandela Parkway.
Follow Mandela south to 7th Street.
Turn right on 7th Street. You will see a sign for the Bay Trail.
Continue on 7th Street. When you hit the underpass take the sidewalk on the right, unless you enjoy the thrill of riding over potholes in a dark, narrow road surrounded by cement on all sides.
Continue to Maritime Street, bearing right at the intersection of 7th and Maritime.
Follow Maritime Street just past Burma Road. You will see a sign for the Bay Bridge Trail, but it points to a shipping yard entrance. Ignore it and take it as a sign that you are almost there. Continue to the next intersection and the entrance will be on your left.
*As you can see, this is a pretty roundabout way of getting there. If you aren’t as daunted by cars zooming towards the freeway entrance, you could ostensibly take Grand Ave all the way to Maritime Street (which would require a lefthand turn). But again, there is no bike path on Grand after Mandela and cars tend to travel at obscene speeds as they approach the freeway.
The entrance in Emeryville is slightly better-marked and is serviced entirely by delineated bike lanes. Newly painted bike greenways on 40th are a wonderful addition that make getting to this entrance a breeze. The roads on this route are very well maintained, but because they are also the main thoroughfare in Emeryville, there is a lot of car traffic. I personally don’t think the big box scenery is as interesting as the desolate industrial landscape of West Oakland, but once you are on the path you get to snake underneath really impressive freeway networks. This path also has information plaques about the sewage treatment center and other, uh, landmarks.
Suggested route from Lake Merritt/Uptown:
From Grand Avenue, bear right onto Bay Place.
Continue straight onto 27th Street.
Bear right onto Broadway at the intersection of 27th and Broadway.
Continue up Broadway and make a left onto MacArthur. Mosswood Park will be on your left.
Turn right onto Market Street.
Turn left onto 40th Street.
Follow 40th Street to the overpass, where it becomes Shellmound Street.
Continue on the overpass. Once you have reached the bottom you will see a stoplight for the Ikea parking lot entrance. The entrance to the trail is on your right. There is also another entrance on the other side of the street for southbound bikers, so you don’t have to cross the intersection no matter which direction you are coming from.
In my adventure, I encountered a number of curious onlookers, lost visitors, and enthusiastic cyclists and dog walkers. It took me about an hour (including time to stop for the occasional photo) to get from Lake Merritt to the end of the bike path on the bridge taking the West Oakland route. I would estimate it probably only takes a little less time to take the Emeryville route from Lake Merritt, mostly because those roads are familiar and well-traveled.
Honestly, aside from a little more hunting and ambiguity on the West Oakland route, getting to the path entrances was the easiest part of the ride. The Bay Bridge is extremely windy, and you are biking uphill, against the wind as you work towards the end of the path. Worthwhile? I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.