I have a crazy bike bridge idea…. one that I pitched to some Cal Poly architecture students (and also some planning students) a few years ago. I have recently suggested it to the City of SLO.
THE BACKSTORY: SLO has been planning and building a long class one (off street) bike path that is known as the Railroad Safety Trail for many years now. It extends from Orcutt road in the south up to the Railroad station… and from Cal Poly in the north down to the 101 freeway along California Blvd. The section that is missing is between the 101 freeway and the Railroad station. The City has been attempting to negotiate with the Railroad for an easement… but the Railroad has basically just said NO.
So the City of SLO public works dept has been working on various solutions that would make a safe connecting route for bikes across this middle section of town to each of the already completed sections of the RR safety trail. So far it looks pretty good… except that a portion of the route will be on Pepper st… which includes a relatively steep section between Monterey street and Mill St. Too steep for kids and anyone on a single speed or cruiser type bike.
The idea… is to span the small valley of Monterey st with a 1000 foot long bike bridge… which spans from Higuera st. all the way up to Mill St…. most of which is actually just the roof of two skinny buildings built on half of what is now the east side of Pepper street. Only a short section of this 1000 foot length would be an actual bike bridge…directly over Monterey st… the rest would be built on the roof of commercial space combined with maybe a small apartment or two… whatever. It is a tad difficult to grasp at first… you have to imagine two buildings… one on either side of Monterey st… built on half the width of Pepper street… the roofs of which are at the level of the green line in the photo above… and then the bike path on top of those roofs. The remainder of Pepper becomes an alley of sorts. It is really low traffic usage now. The new bridge would turn the steep hill… into a manageable 4% grade. The new buildings would not block any views that the current railroad track already blocks.
The City would have to either partner up, sell or lease the land to a developer that would then build the buildings and the bike path. There would be an easement for the bike path across the buildings… and some sort of long term maintenance agreement. It would be a tricky negotiation… but in the end it would eliminate the steep section of this portion of the RR safety trail across town.
From the south end of this bridge… the path would continue as per the existing bicycle master plan which I don’t have space enough to go into here as it is fairly complicated… but it is already a plan and it will work. Same goes for the northerly connection… but that section is quicker to describe. Basically to the north.. Pepper continues as a bicycle blvd for two blocks… where there would be a new bike bridge over the RR tracks and the path then continues over to the south corner of the Highway Patrol building property on California… and then northerly between that Highway Patrol building and the RR tracks but on Highway Patrol Property. From the Highway patrol property… the path becomes a “protected two way bike lane actually built on the west side of California blvd. This section is protected by a barrier from the automobile traffic… and it continues across the existing wide automobile bridge over the 101 and connects with the existing RR safety trail just beyond the 101.
Interesting, yes… is it feasible… I dunno… but it would sure be fun to explore.