Danger on the Golden Gate Bridge

Only the blind could possibly miss the sight of the Golden Gate Bridge on a visit to San Francisco. It’s everywhere. Even when you’re on the wrong side of a hill or behind a building, it’s omnipresent – on postcards and tee shirts and coffee mugs and posters.

Rather than content ourselves with the varying 2-D views of this stunning landmark on calendars in gift shops, Monsieur and I decided that our honeymoon would not be complete without a couple of Golden Gate Bridge crossings. And so we traversed this world-famous suspension bridge in our giant white Smurfmobile; first to visit Muir Woods and Sausalito, and on another occasion to visit the vineyards of Napa Valley.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather while we were in San Francisco; the sky was Halcyon blue, a striking backdrop for the deep terracotta span of the Golden Gate. As the Smurfmobile neared the bridge my heart skipped a little with excitement. Then, at last, we were right there on the 2737 metre-long structure, the choppy waters of the Bay beneath us and eerie little Alcatraz a small dot to our right.

Once on the Marin County side, we pulled into a viewing area to take photos of the city skyline, The Rock and the Oakland Bridge. Then we went for a little walk part way back across the Golden Gate. Cyclists share the walkway so we had to be careful not to be squished by keen people in lycra pedalling in their lycra best. The concept of slowing down for pedestrians did not seem to feature in the mindset of this speedy bunch.

As we moved towards the centre of the bridge Monsieur and I noted with interest an emergency helpline phone. Statistics on how many people jump from the Golden Gate each year vary greatly, depending on who’s counting (local government statistics tend to be significantly lower than independent groups), but at least there are phones there if a potential jumper has a change of heart up there and decides to ask for help.

Analysis shows that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place (if you can call it ‘popular’) for suicides on the planet. Jumpers rarely survive (although there is the tale of one survivor who swam to shore and drove himself to hospital) thanks to a 75 metre drop which takes 4 seconds for the average body to achieve, by which time it has gathered enough velocity to render its impact on the water like that of a mass of concrete. In the rare cases that a jumper does survive the fall, they will be injured by it or may freeze to death in the chill water. In the cases where a jumper achieves their objective, their body may never be found, thanks to the strength of the currents which may wash a body straight out to sea.

Pondering this, Monsieur and I wandered back to the car, managing (just) to survive NOT a 75 metre fall into icy water but the very real danger of the cyclists who were all riding their bikes as if they were after the yellow jersey. Fortunately, we made it back to the car park in one piece, but not thanks to them.  Cyclists of the Golden Gate Bridge: may all your tyres go flat.

Now safely ensconced in our fat, white car on a particularly sunshiny day we had plans that did not involve rushing about or running people over. Following a hectic eight months our aim was to relax and take time to smell the metaphorical roses. That in mind, we were off to experience the cycle-free tranquillity of Muir Woods. Chipmunks and redwoods, AHOY!

9 Comments Add yours

  1. epicurienne says:

    By the way, if you think a couple of the photos look a bit wonky, blame those bl**dy cyclists trying to flatten me every time I lined up a shot. Flat tyres to them ALL!


  2. w1kkp says:

    Hey! Photos from the smurfmobile over the only bridge I ever liked to drive over! Love them and the phone box that was not there when I lived in SF. I think those boxes should be all over the world and not just on bridges! Cyclists on New England roads do the same thing…they seem to think they rule and that the roads were paved for them first, cars and trucks second. Truck drivers, I notice, are not as cowering as I am when it comes to passing them. The rider has to have some exhaust in his lyra shorts after that!
    that same


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hey Pat! Yes, the Smurfmobile gave us a great way to cross the Golden Gate, with Monsieur driving and me shooting. Pictures, that is.The last time I crossed the bridge was in a bus with a million other tourists – NOT the same. And being able to walk part way across it was unbelievable. I don’t know what those cyclists were doing though. They all went so fast that the minute I thought the coast was clear for me to take another photo, I was being run over again. NOT nice. As for the emergency hotline boxes – yes, I’m with you. They should be EVERYWHERE, including on every tube platform in London. We get quite a few jumpers here, too. It’s incredibly traumatic for the person driving the train.


  3. Editors says:

    We really enjoyed this post — you got some nice shots of angles that we as locals had not seen before and were really interesting.

    Sorry to hear that on your weekday visit the aggressive bikes were so rude — it’s out of character for the area. For some reason in some cases perfectly considerate people get in a car or mount a bike and the respect they normally show for others gets lost.

    On weekends the bikes are on one sidewalk and the walkers are on the other, but the downside of a less crowded weekday experience is the faux Tour de France target practice experience.

    Thanks again for sharing your photos.


    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi Everyone at Our Sausalito! Thank you for visiting. It’s good to hear that we experienced an OFF day for Golden Gate cyclists because they were really on the offensive. It’s only sensible that at weekends when there are more visitors the cyclists and pedestrians are on separate sidewalks – that makes a lot of sense. I do love the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, and The Bay Area is one that I’d love to explore more. There’s so much variety in terms of what you can do or visit or see.

      Anyway, watch this space – there’ll be a post on Sausalito soonish!


  4. planetross says:

    If there weren’t a Golden Gate Bridge, there would be a lot of people driving their cars into the water with shocked expressions on their faces.


  5. razzbuffnik says:

    The biggest danger for me on the bridge, is to keep my eyes on the road. I found myself constanly trying to look at the bridge instead of concentrating on driving.


  6. epicurienne says:

    PR – if there weren’t a Golden Gate Bridge there would be an explanation for YOU to drive your car into the water with a shocked expression on your face, but I think the rest of us would stick tyre firmly to tarmac and steer clear. Smiley face.
    Razz – you’re absolutely right about wanting to look at every bit of the bridge whilst driving across it. Lucky for me, Monsieur was driving so all I had to do was look and point and shoot. If I’d been driving the Smurfmobile we probably would have landed in the drink next to PR’s Nippon-imous white van.


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