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Governor Signs Bill Banning Tolls on Bridges for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Assemblymembers Phil Ting (pictured) and Marc Levine introduced and championed A.B. 40 to ban tolls of bicyclists and pedestrians on bridges. Photo: Office of Assemblyman Ting
Assemblymembers Phil Ting (pictured) and Marc Levine introduced and championed A.B. 40 to ban tolls of bicyclists and pedestrians on bridges. Photo: Office of Assemblyman Ting
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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.

"Our 10,000-plus members are committed to encouraging healthy, low-impact transportation options," writes the SFBC in a statement. "This legislation is a huge victory, ensuring that the iconic Golden Gate Bridge represents the Bay Area's values of environmental stewardship and healthy lifestyles."

But of course, the legislation wasn't just about bicycles. Thousands of people walk across Bay Area Bridges everyday.

"Walking is the healthiest, most sustainable and most equitable way to get around and should be encouraged," said Walk San Francisco's Natalie Burdick. “Charging sidewalk tolls for people walking and biking is not only impractical and unfair, it also directly undermines both the Bay Area's and statewide climate change and public health goals."

AB 40 passed the Assembly 65-13 and the Senate 29-11. A.B. 40 was introduced and championed by Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Marc Levine (D-Marin County).

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