Guide to biking the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the most famous bridge in the world, and no surprise, the most famous landmark in San Francisco. There is a number of ways to see the Golden Gate Bridge. A popular option is taking a cruise to see the bridge from the water. If you want to cross the bridge, you have several options. Drive over the bridge with a car or bus, but you can’t exactly stop and take in the view. You can walk across the bridge, but it’s quite the distance, 2.7 km one-way (and that’s not taking into account the distance to the bridge from San Francisco). Or you can bike the bridge, which is what I did and I cannot recommend it enough! Here’s everything you need to know about renting a bicycle and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
What are the rates?
Once you hit the pier and Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll find lots of shops that rent bicycles, either by the hour or daily. The rates are more or less the same everywhere. It will cost you around $8 per hour while renting a bicycle for the day will cost around $30. To save some cash, you can purchase a Groupon online, which is what I did. I only paid $13 (instead of $32) for a full day bicycle rental.
The rates above are for the bicycle rental only (a lock is usually included!). In addition to this, you can purchase insurance for about $6 extra. Now, I did not purchase insurance myself, but I’ll be honest with you, I felt a bit anxious the whole time that something could damage the bicycle. Next time, I’ll purchase the insurance to have more peace of mind.
Which company should you pick?
I used Alcatraz Bikes and Tours. Why? To be totally honest, I selected this company because of the Groupon I purchased. But it turned out to be a great decision for a number of reasons! Firstly, the location of the shop. Alcatraz Bikes and Tours is a small company with two shops, one in downtown San Francisco and one on Hyde Street, only meters away from Fisherman’s Wharf and the national bike trail.
Secondly, you don’t have to pay a deposit. When you arrive at the shop, a carbon copy of your credit card is made. The information is only used if you do not return the bicycle. When you return the bicycle safely and in a timely manner, the carbon copy is handed back to you and you can tear it up yourself. Thirdly, the service is great! The people are friendly and very helpful. I highly recommend Alcatraz Bikes and Tours.
Which route should you take?
This is completely up to you. What I wanted to do was get some great photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge, cross the bridge and of course, admire the view from the bridge. The route is super easy to follow. Alcatraz Bikes and Tours gave me a map, but I didn’t have to use it (I glanced at it once).
From Hyde Street, take the path/sidewalk and stick close to the water’s edge and follow the other cyclists. Keep biking in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge, you really can’t mess it up. Be sure to stop for lots of photos along the way!
Once you reach to bridge, there are plenty of places to pull over and stop on the bridge. Definitely take the time to stop and admire the view, but always signal that you are turning and make sure it’s safe to do so. Avoid stopping at the entrance and exit. Another thing to note while you are on the bridge is the wind speed. Be aware, it can get very windy on the Golden Gate Bridge! Dress appropriately and be prepared to push your bicycle if the wind gets too strong.
When I reached the other side, I went down the very steep Conzelman Road to Moore Road Pier for a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
After taking loads of photographs here, I headed up Conzelman Road and back over the bridge. A lot of people opt to take the ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco, but you really don’t have to do this. You can just cycle back over the bridge (I easily completed the ride back and I’m only moderately fit). But that’s completely up to you.
Also, along the way, there are fantastic photo ops of Alcatraz and San Francisco.
On which day should you go?
To avoid the crowds, people on the internet suggest that you should bike the bridge early on weekdays. In my opinion, you can go on any day of the week. There will always be people on the Golden Gate Bridge (it’s unavoidable). I went on a Sunday, and it didn’t feel too crowded for me. There’s enough space for everybody. Pick the day which suits you best and just go!
How much time do you need?
This depends totally on you. You can take a whole day to explore the bridge or only a couple of hours. It took me three and a half hours roundtrip from the shop and back. I was a little bit pressed for time because I was flying back to Europe that night. That being said, I didn’t feel rushed at all. I stopped to take loads of photographs on the way and it really felt like I ‘experienced’ the Golden Gate Bridge. So taking half a day to see the bridge is plenty of time.
If you actually want to set foot on and cross the Golden Gate Bridge, in my opinion, the best way to do this is by bicycle. I had a blast!
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