Advocates urge Brown to sign ban on charging walkers, bikes on state bridges

Assemblymember Phil Ting is co-author of a bill that would prohibit charging pedestrians and bicyclists tolls on bridges. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Assemblymember Phil Ting is co-author of a bill that would prohibit charging pedestrians and bicyclists tolls on bridges. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Among a bevy of bills awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature is AB 40, which would prohibit sidewalk tolls on California bridges.

On a foggy Friday morning, a coalition of cycling and walking advocates joined Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, on the Golden Gate Bridge, urging Brown to sign it.

Ting, who authored the bill with Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-Marin County, said it was a matter of health and a matter of the environment to allow walkers and cyclists free use of bridges.

“We want to send the right signal to those who want to do the right thing,” he said, as the fog horn sounded behind him.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is also Golden Gate Bridge District board director, was there in support of AB 40 along with a bevy of advocates. Noah Budnick, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Natalie Burdick of Walk San Francisco showed their support, among others.

Pedestrians watched and cyclists whizzed by as the politicos touted the benefits of free sidewalks on bridges.

“This bridge inspires awe in all when they see it,” Budnick said. “It needs to represent our values.”

The bill arose from a controversial vote of the Golden Gate District Board of Directors, who in October approved a feasibility study of charging pedestrians and cyclists on the Golden Gate Bridge.

“They voted very narrowly, 10 to nine,” said Priya Clemens, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge District.

The study was tabled by the board after Ting’s bill was introduced and the board took a neutral position on the bill. Now they await Brown’s decision.

“If the governor vetoes the bill, we will once again consider it a part of our financial plan, it’ll be in the work queue to be studied in the next few years,” Clemens said.

She said it’s important to note that it is only a study.

“We’d still need to figure out if it would be worth it,” she said of charging pedestrians and cyclists. According to Ting’s office, a 2005 analysis conducted by the bridge district found such a toll would generate just $500,000 to $1.5 million annually.

Even if AB 40 is vetoed, a potential route to charging sidewalk tolls on the bridge is a long ways off, Clemens said.
Assemblymember Phil TingGolden Gate BridgeGovernor Jerry BrownTransit

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