January 26, 2002 Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District P.O. Box 9000 Presidio Station San Francisco, CA 94129 Attn: the big meanies who lock the West side (bicycle path) gates on the weekends Dear GGBHT: I have a word problem for you guys, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Let's say there's this bridge--for the sake of argument, we'll call it the "Golden Gate Bridge"--and say it spans between the town of Sausalito to the North and the city of San Francisco to the South (see fig. 1). Now, there's a West path on this bridge, with a gate at either end. On the Sausalito end, when closed, the gate can only be opened from the inside (the bridge side). On the San Francisco side, when closed, the gate is locked up with a shiny golden padlock (see fig. 2). You with me so far? I know, I hate word problems, too, but it gets better. Let's say that bicyclists are free to travel on the West side pathway, but only some of the time; e.g., until, oh, 6pm on a Saturday, January 26th. Now, here's the question: which gate do you close first, to best trap unwary bicyclists on the bridge? I know you already know the answer, since I discovered it for myself tonight: you lock the San Francisco side with the shiny padlock. But, here's the tricky bit: you leave the gate open on the Sausalito side! Yes, that's right, if a girl on a slow-moving bike passes through the open gate on the Sausalito side at a hair before 6pm, by the time she reaches the San Francisco side, the gate will already be padlocked! Isn't that fun! With any luck, she won't try to throw her bike over the fence and then shimmy over, or even try to mess with the padlock (fig. 2), seeing as she might fear that the national guard with their big semiautomatic weapons could take umbrage. Instead, she will have to ride all the way back to Sausalito and pass through the now-closed gate (that opens from the inside), pass under the bridge, and then ride all the way back to San Francisco again on the pedestrian (East side path) of the bridge! It's just priceless. Oh sure, I suppose you could choose answer (B): close the Sausalito gate first, at 6pm, and leave 15 minutes or so for any bicyclists traveling South to exit the San Francisco side before padlocking the gate there, but whatever for? The Northbound bicyclists would hardly be inconvenienced at all, they'd only have to open the gate and pass through to their chosen destination. I mean, where's the fun in that? I ask you. I remain yours most sincerely, the girl who unwontedly courted hypothermia, Cynsa Bonorris 55 Norfolk Street #301 San Francisco, CA 94103 (415)252-9556 P.S.: For extra bonus points, describe (with illustrations) the reasoning behind letting one suspicious girl-figure lurk unhindered in a restricted area for 20 minutes. cc: Everyone I Could Think Of on the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors: Harold C. Brown, Jr., President, GGBHT Board of Directors Tom Ammiano, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Mark Leno, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tony Hall, San Francisco Board of Supervisors John Kress, Marin Board of Supervisors Leland Yee, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Michael J. Cale, Sonoma Board of Supervisors Leah Shahum, Program Director, SF Bike Coalition Albert J. Boro, Mayor of San Rafael encl.
fig. 1 (figure not drawn to scale)
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