Driving the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Morning Rush Hour

GG Bridge Morn. Rush Hr Last Week

I’ve been driving over the Golden Gate Bridge for decades and I still get a thrill each time.  If you’re not at the wheel you can space-out on the giant orange suspension cables overhead, take in Alcatraz and the boats in the Bay below, ponder the Pacific Ocean, or delight in the sparkling (or foggy mystical) views of San Francisco and the Marin Headlands.  For drivers:

  • It costs $6 to cross (for two axle vehicles), unless you have a FasTrak transponder  (then it’s $5).
  • The cost to cross only applies to one way:  heading southbound into San Francisco.  Crossing north is free.
  • The speed limit is 45 mph.
  • The length is 1.7 miles.
  • I have never seen anyone get a speeding ticket, probably because it is hazardous to stop traffic.
  • There are six lanes of traffic for both directions and the dedicated number of lanes in each direction changes, depending on the flow of traffic.  During morning rush hour, for example, there are four lanes going into the City and two lanes exiting the City.  This is usually the opposite for the evening rush hour.
  • There are no people in the toll booths.  The toll booths are from yesteryear when humans collected money.  Now it’s all electronic.  That way we can zoom through really fast.
  • If you don’t have a pre-purchased pass, there are other options for paying the toll, but cash is not an option.
  • There are sidewalks on each side of the bridge.  Usually one side is for bicyclists and the other side is for pedestrians, but this changes all the time and there’s a bunch of rules that most drivers know nothing about.
  • If the fog is coming “into the Gate” at night it is going to be a cold night (and next morning) across most of the Bay Area.
  • Most of us drivers have serious looks on our faces because we’re all concentrating.  Well, not everyone.  Some drivers are not paying attention (so much to take in!), you keep your distance from them.
  • It’s exhilarating to walk the bridge and biking is big too.  If you’re dressed appropriately (it’s windy, cold, and loud) the adventure is a lot more fun.
GG Bridge and Marin Headlands

GG Bridge and Marin Headlands

If you do make the crossing, I know you’ll have fun!


18 thoughts on “Driving the Golden Gate Bridge

  1. Whenever I come to San Francisco it’s always thrilling to see the bridge… and of course the best part is watching the fog roll in, covering it up.

  2. Makes me think I should research all the same facts for the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Jet! About all I know off the top of my head is that you pay in both directions and the lanes going in either direction change according to the time of day. And I’ve lived in Sydney since 1975! Tsk!

  3. I do so miss my California every single day, but could not give up my Florida critters now.
    The Cranes, the Gopher Tortoises, the Lizards, all make my life here so sweet.
    I am a gonner for all of them!

  4. You would hope everyone would be concentrating! Tunnels and bridges are no problem if they have divided lanes, but narrow lanes, no shoulders, and oncoming semitrailer trucks can be a pretty unnerving combination…

  5. Very informative blog. We cross the Bluewater Bridge into Canada fairly often, and it is always a thrill. (Nothing as impressive as the Golden Gate, but we enjoy it.) Our speed limit is 35 mph, and I often wish it were slower, so I could gawk more!

  6. Jet,
    I had the opportunity to cross the Golden Gate’s northern cousin, the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, recently. While not as storied as the GG, the engineering and scope of these types of structures still amazes me.
    I was fortunate in the past to have had a tour of the Bay Area with a relative that included the Golden Gate, and look forward to visiting again. Maybe our paths will cross……..

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