Is It OK to Charge Pedestrians and Bicyclists to Cross Toll Bridges?

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District might charge pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge in a plan to keep the district, which also runs buses and ferries between San Francisco and Marin and Sonoma counties, solvent.

2 minute read

October 22, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

"On Monday (Oct. 20) the district released a 45-point plan to keep the agency solvent in the next five to 10 years as it grapples with a five-year, $33 million deficit," writes Mark Prado of Marin Independent Journal.

Among the initiatives: "Evaluate sidewalk access fees" for bikes and pedestrians, which could be implemented in 2017. There is no estimate as to how much a fee might raise.

Marin County Bicycle Coalition vehemently opposes fees for the Golden Gate Bridge," said Andy Peri, the group's advocacy director. "The district should be doing everything it can to promote bike transportation, health and reducing greenhouse gases and congestion."

However, motorists who carpool or drive non-polluting electric cars pay a (reduced) toll, and of course, riders of Golden Gates buses and ferries must pay fares.

But costs do matter. We noted that when carpoolers lost their free ride and paid the discounted toll in July, 2010, carpooling dropped by 68%. Carpoolers with three or more persons now pay $4; non-carpoolers and motorcyclists pay $6, per the toll rate chart.

A quick Google search revealed only the El Paso-Juarez international crossing charging pedestrians.

"No other major bridge in the United States with pedestrian and bicycle access charges a toll for the privilege," wrote Steve Rubenstein of the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005 when the bridge district previously considered charging pedestrians and bicyclists $1 tolls. "In New York City, walking or pedaling across the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Manhattan, 59th Street, Triborough and Henry Hudson bridges is free."

[Readers, if you know of any non-border toll bridge or road that charges pedestrians and/or bicyclists, please comment below.]

Should the district apply such a fee (or toll), it wouldn't be the first time, notes Prado. "From May 1937 to December 1970, a pedestrian toll was charged and collected via a coin turnstile," he writes. "The board voted to discontinue a 10-cent toll on Dec. 15, 1970. That year some 48,000 pedestrians crossed the span." A caption notes that "(GG)Bridge officials estimate that about 6,000 cyclists cross the span on peak summer days."

[Hat tip to MTC Headlines]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 in Marin Independent Journal

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