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SFBC: Golden Gate Bridge Bike/Ped Toll “Out of Sync With Bay Area Values”

6:54 PM PDT on October 23, 2014

A toll for people walking and biking across the Golden Gate Bridge will be considered for study tomorrow by the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District's Board of Directors. The SF Bicycle Coalition is calling on sustainable transportation advocates to oppose the fee, calling it an tired idea that would discourage walking and biking.

"This really seems to be out of sync with the values of most of the people in the Bay Area," SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum said on this morning's edition of KQED Forum. "We've seen not only the state of California, but both San Francisco and Marin Counties, and the Bridge District itself, commit very smartly to decrease carbon emissions."

"This is an unfortunate déjà vu. This has been studied before," she added. "Every five years or so, this idea rears its head, and regularly people come out of the woodwork and say this is just a bad idea."

GGBHTD General Manager Denis Mulligan said on the forum that the board will merely consider approval of a packaged "work plan" with 45 budget proposals to study [PDF], including the tolls on biking and walking. He said the study would look at the potential impacts of such fees, like lines of people waiting to get on to the bridge, as well as possible discounts for locals.

"Like any topic, people have differences of opinion -- some members of the community feel that it's appropriate, and some feel that it's not," said Mulligan. Almost every forum listener who called in or commented online blasted the idea.

The Bridge District needs to close a $32.9 million five-year deficit and a $209.8 million 10-year deficit, according to the SF Chronicle. As we've reported, the district has hiked Golden Gate Transit fares much faster than it's raised tolls on drivers, although it did approve a toll increase in March.

As Shahum pointed out, tolling pedestrians and bicycle riders will not only serve to discourage walking and biking while encouraging driving, but also just doesn't make sense given that wear on the bridge is exponentially related to a vehicle's weight. A toll of $6 on a typical car should translate to a bicycle toll of $0.00016, if the toll was levied to recoup the cost of wear and tear.

The Golden Gate Bridge Board will consider the fee study at its meeting tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza, where the public can weigh in. The SFBC also has an online petition to sign.

2005 was another year in which advocates shot down the idea of a bike and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. Here, the SFBC was joined by Senator Mark Leno and then-Senator Leland Yee. Photo: SFBC/Flickr
2005 was another year in which advocates shot down the idea of a bike and pedestrian toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. Here, the SFBC was joined in opposing it by Senator Mark Leno and then-Senator Leland Yee. Photo: SFBC/Flickr

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