As a stopping-off point for cargo ships and big rigs, the Port of Oakland is relatively free of cars, making it a pretty ideal place for bicycling–on weekends at least. Also, it’s huge, it’s flat, and some visionary put a couple of nice little public parks in there. So Jesse and I decided to explore the port on bikes last Saturday.
Given the purpose of our trip, it was funny to see this “walk your bike” sign on the approach to the port. The upside, I thought to myself, was that bikes must be welcome if there are signs about walking them. And really, the sign was just telling us not to ride our bikes on the street or sidewalk under the freeway underpass to the port. There was no traffic on the street (one lost driver looking for the nearest gas station) and just one jogger on the sidewalk, so we just stayed on our bikes and Jesse took this photo as a record of our little infraction.
Everything else we did was pretty legal. Here’s a sign at the main entry. One wouldn’t guess from this sign that it points to some of the most scenic views in the area. But it does, and now you are in on secret so well kept that I was unaware of it for 40 years, despite biking from one end of Oakland to the other for half of that period. (Please don’t tell anyone else.)
Another half-mile of road leads to a bike path that ends at the parks and the bay. No cars, no bikes, no people except for the occasional jogger or walker, with park benches for the weary visitor. In the distance looms downtown San Francisco.
The path ends at the Chappell R. Hayes Memorial Observation Tower, named after the West Oakland community leader who waged a successful campaign to relocate the freeway which collapsed in the 1989 earthquake and which had divided West Oakland in two.
The park abuts the port’s cranes, much larger than you’d guess if you weren’t standing next to one. And to prove the point, I’m standing next to this one and invite you to play Where’s Willdo with this shot. (It may help to enlarge the picture by double-clicking.)
From there we headed on to more settled parts, passing by a crew boat with many paddlers and a ramp that would have taken me straight into the water if I had decided to end it all there. I can think of worse ways to go.