Letters to the Editor

Toll-Free Debate

I know the SFBC has been mounting a comment/postcard drive against proposed bike and pedestrian tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge, and promises to press the issue. But I'm unclear on the rationale for opposing bike/ped tolls while supporting increased car tolls for the same structure. Personally, I favor the former modes of travel over car use, and I like things to be cheap or free as much as the next person, but I haven't seen any argument justifying the SFBC position. Lightweight or not, we're still using the bridge. Has the board or the staff articulated the logic on this?

Hal Looby

Response from an SFBC member:

The percentage of wear and tear on the Golden Gate Bridge structure caused by bicycle and pedestrian use is mathematically insignificant compared to the impact of trucks and autos. In addition, travel is already free for motorcycles and carpools during the evening commute hours, allowing completely free bridge use to people who choose these more efficient modes of personal travel (albeit still polluting). Moreover, I believe the Bridge District should be doing everything reasonable to encourage commuting, traveling, and recreating by means other than the private automobile. A toll may also discourage tourists from choosing MUNI (Transit First!) to visit the bridge for a walking tour or discourage the growing trend of bicycle tourism along the San Francisco and Marin waterfronts. Furthermore, past studies have indicated that it would not be cost effective to collect a toll from pedestrians and bicycle users. In other words, it could cost more to place the infrastructure and process bike/ped tolls than would actually be collected. In their defense, the Bridge District has generally been supportive of bicycle use on the bridge, including implementing 24-hour access and a forthcoming safety railing between the sidewalks and roadways.

Rich Coffin

Send letters to the SFBC, 1095 Market Street, #215, San Francisco, CA 94103, or email tubetimes@sfbike.org. Please keep them short; letters may be edited.