Insider Tips: Sausalito Ferry Bike Guidelines
Every year tens of thousands of visitors rent bikes in San Francisco and ride them across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and then take the ferry back to The City. Thousands of local riders bring their bikes to the ferry terminals to extend their rides across the Bay.
The city and the ferry operators have steadily improved the system to speed boarding and avoid long waits (not to mention short tempers) for Sausalito Ferry bike riders. During the busy warm weather months (at least when we’re not in a pandemic) Sausalito Ferry bike valets in yellow vests are stationed near the ferry pier to answer your questions about Sausalito Ferry bike boarding and help with bike parking. Ferry employees will also help with questions about buying tickets and where to wait.
Insiders Tip: Yeah, there ought to be a service that lets people return bikes in Sausalito instead of having to take them back to the shop where they rented them in San Francisco. I’m happy to share that (at least when we’re not in a pandemic) from late spring through summer each year there is a new Sausalito Ferry Bike Return service.
Insiders Tip: Late afternoon sailings during the summer and on holiday weekends sometimes sell out, and people in line have to wait for the next ferry to their chosen destination. Arrive at the pier early during these crowded times.
Here’s how to make your bike parking and ferry ride easy and convenient:
1. When you arrive in downtown Sausalito, start your visit by going to the ferry pier. We have a map of the area here.
2. Go to the bike parking area, park and lock your bikes (the parking area entrance is spot 4 on the map below). (When we’re not in a pandemic,) parking in the fenced-in area here with the valets costs $3 for each bike for adults but is free for young kids (service available only during the warm weather months). Sausalito Ferry bike riders can also go two blocks farther north on Bridgeway (across the street from the Casa Madrona Hotel) and you’ll see flags announcing that bike parking in the racks there is free.
3. Check the ferry schedule for the time when you plan to take the ferry to San Francisco. Planning ahead will help you ensure that you return to the dock in time to not miss any evening commitments you may have in San Francisco.
4. Buy your ferry tickets.
— You can buy advance tickets for either service online. We have the links for each service below, and they also list Sausalito Ferry bike guidelines.
— You do not have to make a Sausalito ferry bike reservation on either service — all pandemic era ferry reservations are no longer required.
- There is not an arbitrary bike capacity for each vessel, since it all depends on how many passengers buy tickets. The larger ferries are designed to carry 200 bikes.
- You must be able to carry your bike up or down stairs for boarding or departures, since the gangplanks in Sausalito are at the lower level and in San Francisco the gangplanks attach to doors on the main deck.
- Electric bikes are allowed on Golden Gate Ferries, as of August 10, 2021.
- Electric scooters are OK, but the scooter must be a) turned off and b) the handlebars tucked back so they take as little space as possible.
- You can’t charge anything except your phone, tablet or laptop on the ferry. So the electric scooter needs to be charged up before you board. As does your Acme 2000 roadrunner-hunting net-casting-unit.
- Folding bikes are OK, but must be stored in a carry-on bag beneath a seat (or as directed by the crew). They can’t be placed in the onboard bike racks used by standard bikes.
— For Blue and Gold Fleet ferries from Sausalito to Pier 39 / Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco you can buy tickets at the terminal before you board the ferry boat (if you do not pre-buy online). This is the link to buy online.
- Electric bikes are prohibited on Blue & Gold Fleet, presumably because of the danger of fire from their batteries.
5. Go have a great time in Sausalito.
Insiders Tip: The Sausalito Ferry bike guidelines advise being at the pier 20 minutes before your scheduled ferry is supposed to depart. My tip: It always takes longer than you think to get everyone in the group back to the pier when they’re having fun in Sausalito. Have everyone aim to arrive 30 minutes ahead of time and you’ll still get there only 15 or 20 minutes early. The bike riders line looks extra long when you arrive because people with bikes are more spread out, and it will snake back from the pier and around the parking lot. Don’t despair: on all but the busiest late afternoon weekend sailings everyone makes it on board.
Insiders Tip: The Sausalito ferries depart right on time, even if the Mayor of Sausalito were running up the dock asking them to wait. The Mayor knows this so don’t expect to see her sprinting towards the pier and screaming for them to stop.
Key to the Map Below:
1 — Ferry slip where passengers board both companies’ ferries on both routes to San Francisco
2 — Waiting area on dock, where walking passengers wait in one line and Sausalito Ferry bike riders wait in another
3 — Ticket machines for Golden Gate ferries to the Ferry Building. (You buy tickets for the Blue and Gold Ferries on board the boats as you enter, and you can also buy both services’ tickets online.)
4 — Entry to bike parking area, where you’ll see the Sausalito Ferry bike valets in yellow vests (during the warm weather months)
5 — Visitor information kiosk, (under the big tree) where you can ask questions and get a free visitors map of Sausalito
Click on the map image below to open an interactive Google map of the same area