Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 40, legislation that bans tolling bicycle and pedestrians on bridges that have tolls for cars throughout the state.
While this is a statewide ban, all toll bridges in California are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Golden Gate, the Antioch, the Benicia-Martinez, the Carquinez, the Dumbarton, and the eastern span of the Bay Bridge have bicycle and pedestrian crossings. Currently, there are no tolls for cyclists and pedestrians to cross any of these bridges. However, a proposal to place bicycle and pedestrian tolls has come up several times in recent years.
The campaign against the tolls has focused on how biking and walking are good for the environment and should be encouraged, not tolled.
A statement from the bill’s sponsors notes that forty percent of climate changing emissions come from transportation. In 2014 Bay Area commuters lost over 45 million hours in traffic, wasting $291 million in fuel. The Golden Gate Bridge is crossed by tens of millions of people each year, with as many as 10,000 pedestrians and 6,000 cyclists crossing each day. And, 43.6% of tourists report visiting the bridge during their visit to San Francisco.
The signing was met with praise from bicycle and pedestrian advocates.
“Taxpayers save money when more people ride bicycles. We pay for our roads through sales taxes, property taxes, and through all kinds of related costs such as for emergency services, health care, and cleaning up pollution,” explained Dave Snyder, the executive director of CalBike at a rally for the legislation last month.
“We pay less for all this when more people ride bicycles. Bicycling is so good for California, our economy, our health, our environment, that taxpayers would come out ahead if we paid people to bike for short trips instead of drive a car for short trips. We certainly shouldn’t charge them to do it.”
Locally, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition was similarly enthusiastic. Read more…