A bridge so far - Page 4

Contemplating the new Bay Bridge and the old, from the incomplete bike and pedestrian path in between

Cyclists and pedestrians can survey both Bay Bridges from the spacious new path.
Steven T. Jones

Carlsson rejects the neoliberal approach of begging for scraps as we ride into a future that simply can't continue to be dominated by automobiles. He says the Bay Pier must not rest there for another decade.

"Both bike coalitions have a resistance to appearing anti-car," Carlsson says, "so they aren't willing to say the obvious thing."

Carlsson talks about the Bay Bridge as part of the free Shaping San Francisco lecture series at 7:30pm, Sept. 11, Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia, SF.











The vast majority of the cost of the new span was paid for not through general tax dollars but through user fees leveled on those who utilize the bridge - those are called "tolls." If you want a bike lane going all the way across, which is estimated to cost $1 billion, then you can expect to pay something towards it.

Again Steven - you do not pay an equal amount for the bridge as every other taxpayer because the Bay Bridge (indeed ALL the bridges in the Bay Area) is supported largely through tolls.

This is a very easy to solve problem - agree to pay a toll, which doesn't even have to be the same as the automobile toll, and you can have your dedicated bike lane on both sides.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 10, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

world's longest and most expensive bike path, and I feel sure that Steven would feel guilty and ashamed to ride it without knowing that he has helped pay for it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 6:26 am

This is a long-time dream of his and one of the larger cyclist community as well. They're so close - all they need to do is agree to pony up a small toll to help contribute.

Of course they can go the other route and try and convince voters in the district to levy yet another toll increase on themselves, pushing the fee to $7. That will just cause acrimony and bring ill-will to the community - it would be nice to see cyclists just agree to be responsible for once and be part of the solution instead of attempting to pawn off the fiscal responsibility for this onto motorists.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 10:52 am

I don't understand. How are bicyclists supposed to pay a toll to fund the construction of a path that does not yet exist?

By the way, bicyclists already pay to cross the bay, whether it is via BART ($5.80 round trip, minimum), the ferry ($9.50 round trip, minimum), a transbay bus ($8.40 round trip), or the Caltrans shuttle ($2 round trip, but limited space and very infrequent). However, the toll to cross the Bay Bridge for car drivers costs between $4-$6 round trip, all with the luxury of accessing the bridge any time of day on their own schedule and not having to deal with infrequent or non-existant late night transit service.

Sure, let's institute a bike toll to help pay for the path, as even if cyclists were charged as much as drivers currently are they would still be getting across for cheaper than transit and with less hassle. But we will have to actually build the path before we can start collecting the tolls. Agreed? Great, let's start construction tomorrow!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 11:29 am

A bond gets floated to pay to build the lane, and is then repaid over 30 years from tolls paid by the bikes that use it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 11:45 am

I support that idea.

See how easy it is to solve something which Steven insists on lading with the rhetoric of "justice" and "democracy" while claiming those who oppose his ideas are anti-environmental radicals bent on disrupting his amen corner here? Bicyclists agree to chip in and everyone's happy as a result.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

If the usage of the Bay Bridge West Span is anything like the Golden Gate Bridge, however, it would take much longer than 30 years to pay off a $500M bond.

The Golden Gate currently gets counts of about 70,000 bicyclists and pedestrians per week during the peak month of August. We can use this as our best case scenario on the Bay Bridge West Span all throughout the year for the sake of argument, so 70,000*52 weeks = 3,640,000 path users per year. However, if we are only to charge the toll for path users heading into SF like we do for drivers then that would drop the number to 1,820,000 (likely much fewer).

If we were to charge each one of those people the current maximum bridge toll of $6 then over 30 years we would have only collected $327.6M (1,820,000*6*30). Add in the cost of actually constructing and operating the toll collection system, the reduced amount of path users due to the toll, and the interest accrued on the bond issued, it becomes increasingly unlikely that the investment cost would ever be paid off.

I think better arguments for funding the path via other means would be to reduce congestion on the bridge due to being able to take the maintenance operations off the road deck and not have to close a lane every day as is currently the case, to bring in an increased number of tourist dollars via activities surrounding the use of the path, to increase worker productivity by offering an opportunity to commute via active transportation, to increase property values on Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island, and to offer another alternative to transit commuters if there is to be another BART or AC Transit strike, as opposed to clogging the bridge with additional cars. There are probably a number of additional, tangential benefits that I am not thinking of now, but you get the idea.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

like what you project and, moreover, the funding has to be there in advance, which can only happen with a revenue bond hypothecated against future tolls on bikes crossing the bridge.

$6 seems high though. I'd charge bikes $2. But yes, it will probably take more decades to pay off the bonds - maybe 40/50?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

Tolls pay for bridge maintenance. Cyclists and pedestrians cause zero bridge wear. One loaded semi, causes pavement damage equivalent to over TEN THOUSAND cars. They pay higher fees and tolls, but nowhere near enough to pay for the damage they cause.
According to AASHTO: The need for road surface maintenance is greatly attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Based on the findings of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) road test, damage caused by heavy trucks was long thought to increase with approximately the fourth power of the axle load. This means that one axle of 10 tons on a heavy truck was 160,000 times more damaging to a road surface than an axle of 0.5 tons (car scale).
Can we switch to rail freight now?

Posted by Keenplanner on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

For a start, if the west span was reduced from 5 lanes to 4, that would increase congestion and delays, which directly leads to an economic cost and loss.

Oh, and two pedestrians have been killed by bikes in SF in the last 2 years, so there can be a human cost to having more bikes in SF as well.

But a suspended bike lane paid for by a toll on bikes is something I probably would not object to.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

The riding of bike implies the non-driving of a car.

Unless the cost of riding a bike exceeds the cost of the car trip it replaced, the riding of a bike has a net positive impact.

Posted by John Murphy on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 9:55 am

If providing a bike lane adds to congestion and delays, then there is clearly an added cost, as all that wasted time can be valued. The average SF wage is about $35 an hour, so if ten thousand drivers are delayed by 6 minutes, that's 1000 times $35, or a $35,000 cost.

As for bikes replacing cars, you're assuming that people who would bike formerly drove a car, but that is far from true, as many would have taken the bus, the ferry or BART instead. Only the bus would have used the bridge, and if it carries a couple less people, that will not measurably change the traffic density.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 10:11 am

"there can be a human cost to having more bikes in SF"
Are you kidding?
2 bike deaths in 2 years compared to around 60 car deaths in 2 years. There is such a skewed perception of danger in SF when it comes to bikes, especially when you compare it to cars.

Fatal car crashes and road traffic accident statistics for 2011
Fatal accident count: 30
Vehicles involved in fatal accidents: 43
Fatal accidents caused by drunken drivers: 9
Fatalities: 30
Persons involved in fatal accidents: 69
Pedestrians involved in fatal accidents: 17
Read more: http://www.city-data.com/accidents/acc-San-Francisco-California.html#ixz...

Posted by lisa on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 8:25 am

You said there are 15 times as many fatalities from cars as from bikes.

But there are far more than 15 times the number of cars than bikes in the Bay Area.

So cars are safer than bikes by your own numbers!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 8:40 am

2*15=30, 2*30=60, so the number of fatalities caused by drivers was 30 times higher over the past two years, not 15.

Beyond that, just two instances of bicyclist-caused fatalities in the past two years is not enough to be statistically significant, especially considering that there were zero bicyclist-caused fatalities in the prior five years.

A better metric to look at would just be reported collisions, whether there was an injury, fatality, or just property damage. Because there are more of these incidents related to bicyclists the data will be more significant.

According to SF's Department of Public Health bicyclists hit people 18 times in 2010. The SFMTA's 2011 report indicated a citywide bike mode share average of 3.4%. Therefore if bicyclists were causing exactly as much havoc as drivers we would expect there to be about 529 car collisions with people (100/3.4*18), but for 2010 the Department of Public Health reported a total of 811.

This means in 2010 a driver was 53% (811/529) more likely to hit another person than a bicyclist, without even getting into the details of how the person hit fared after the collision.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't be holding bicyclists accountable for any damage they inflict through negligence, or ignore dangerous vehicle code infractions, but can we please give this problem attention in proportion to the actual impact it has on public safety? And if not, then let us at least admit that our goal is something other than promoting safety.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

collisions involving cars are usually reported if only for insurance purposes, but that's not true for bikes. The # of collisions for bikes is therefore likely to be much higher than that formally reported.

And even if there were 30 times more collisions for cars than for bikes, the above notwithstanding, I still believe that there are more than 30 times more cars in regular use, and certainly on a per-mile basis. So the bike stats still look worse.

So, like you, I want to view this in proportion to the damage done. But so far it looks like bikes are more accident-prone on a per-bike basis and almost certainly on a per-mile basis.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

Again, the data from just the last two years including two bicyclist-involved fatalities is not statistically significant, and these cases received so much media attention specifically because they were so rare. As I stated, there were zero bicyclist-involved fatalities of pedestrians over the previous five years while the city still averaged 20 driver-involved fatalities of pedestrians (not including bicyclists) each year. It simply can't not be ignored that historically the number of these incidents is significantly lower for people on bikes than people in cars, even when adjusted for mode share % (3.4% bicycle traffic vs 46% private motor vehicles).

So far in 2013 in SF there have been three bicyclists killed and at least nine pedestrians killed in collisions with drivers, and no instances of fatalities between bicyclists and pedestrians or other bicyclists. How would you allocate resources in relation to this data?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

that their deceased family member isn't "statistically significant". I'm sure that will be a great comfort to them. No, the simple facts is that every accident is a one-off, and they are all significant.

There will be more bike-induced fatalities, partly because there are now more bikes on the road (induced by all the road space we are throwing at them) and partly because of the very aggressive, and often illegal way cyclists ride in this city. I'm shocked there haven't been more than two deaths, frankly, as I have nearly been hit by some maniac a couple of times.

That said, a dozen fatalities in a year, while regrettable, is quite low for a city of three quarters of a million.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

I said the DATA from the last two years was not statistically significant, and nothing about the nature of the tragedies themselves.

We have a decision to make about how to allocate our attention and resources in order to create a safer city in which nobody is needlessly murdered through preventable traffic incidents. We can do that through analyzing the data and the facts, or we can do it via our emotional responses and what we perceive as acceptable negligence. One will be effective, the other will retain the status quo.

SF's rate of pedestrian traffic fatalities is 2.33 per 100,000, considered high by the Federal Highway Administration, which is why it has been made a focus city for safety improvements by the Department of Transportation. And yes, some of those improvements will include "throwing road space" away on better bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

The vast majority of the cost of the new span was paid for not through general tax dollars but through user fees leveled on those who utilize the bridge - those are called "tolls.

Is this true?

Posted by John Murphy on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 9:52 am

that will be repaid from tolls. That was certainly the case for the original Bay Bridge and the GG Bridge.

Of course, when the bonds are finally redeemed, the tolls do not go away, so you are right to be cynical.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 10:07 am

Meanwhile, on the Golden Gate Bridge, the thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who cross the span daily suffered when forced to share the east path while construction closed the west (bike) path for over a year recently. There were many scraped ankles, physical skirmishes, and angry confrontations as the LOS (level of service) on the east sidewalk dropped to below "F." Many of us in the cycling community pleaded to get the bridge board to cone off one car lane as a bi-directional cycle track on the weekends, when bike and pedestrian traffic is heaviest, and auto traffic is lightest.
This sensible, cheap, safe, and bike/ped/transit-first idea fell on deaf ears as the bridge board routinely makes no effort to address any problem unless it inconveniences drivers, even slightly. The hoards of "freeloaders" who use the paths? Fuck em. Let them work it out.
Putting bike lanes on the Bay Bridge would be more of a challenge, as it hasn't yet developed the popularity of the GGB, but would the GGB be as popular without bike lanes?
For many of us in the Transportation Planning community, the elephant in the room is that the Bay Bridge lacks Rapid Bus/HOV lanes, and the local transpo-cabal won't even talk about it.
Here we have green plated transportation and land use plans galore, but the idea of facilitating faster bus and carpool crossings is never even considered in bridge planning. Imagine all the AC-Transit buses flying over the bridge at 50mph rather than sitting in single-occupant car traffic. Picture people carpooling as if it was the norm. They already "casual carpool" every day just to jump ahead at the toll plaza. If there were eastbound HOV lanes, people would carpool in both directions, and buses could get to east bay cities faster than driving. They may have to convert 2 lanes to HOV.
I'd be happy to wait a while for the bike lanes if MTC, BATA, and Caltrans did the obvious and added HOV lanes to the bridge, but a complete lack of logical and ecological transportation decisions from these agencies persists. The elephant is currently very large and loud, but the local transportation decision makers continue to completely ignore so many obvious solutions.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

I'd prefer the GG Bridge solution - dedicated space for cyclists and pedestrians but they have to play nice with each other.

Same with bike lanes in the city - put them on the sidewalks.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Motorists already uses a disproportionate share of public land to drive and park their cars, and they kill an average of 30 people a year in San Francisco alone, half of them pedestrians. And motorists don't come anywhere close to paying for their impacts to society, from the subsidized fuel they use to their impacts on public health and infrastructure. So, yeah, in the name of equity and democracy, I can justify wanting to reclaim some of the resources that are spent on automobiles and their owners.

Posted by steven on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

Steven never seems to understand that telling the vast majority of people they're greedy pigs who need to pay more in the interest of his abstract notions of "equality and democracy" is an absolute non-starter for most people. It immediately makes people defensive and closes them off to honest and meaningful discussions around this issue.

Again - this is a very, very easy problem to solve. Bicyclists can agree to contribute to the building of a bridge-spanning bike lane by paying a toll. Problem solved.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

You should pay nothing?

And not be licensed?

Nor registered?

Nor insured?

Nor have to stop at stop signs and lights?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

Yes, even the poor need an efficient and dignified mode of transportation. You've supported underfunding transit, and now you even want to gouge people who choose a cheap and self-propelled transportation mode. You're shameless in your classism, and transparent in your hypocrisy in wanting to extend the authority of government that you otherwise criticize. Or, more likely, you're just trolls here to provoke.

Posted by steven on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 8:07 am

You want your class to have "free stuff" just because they are your class. When Wall Street does that you become apoplectic with righteous indignation, but ask you to pay a buck for the longest most expensive bike lane on the planet and you cry poverty.

And even more ironic because I rarely see anyone cycling in SF who doesn't look white, professional, affluent and privileged. That you would share a bed with the all-white SF Green Party doesn't shock, but still disgusts.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 8:17 am

Cyclists in SF and now far more diverse than drivers. We are young and old, rich and poor, male and female, black and white and brown. We are the future, you are the past, deal with it.

Posted by steven on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 7:55 am

Yeah we get you like cycling but this is not a socialist revolution. It's just about an infrastructure that will mean less cyclists get killed.

But I looked out on Market Street today at the racial mix of cyclists. I couldn't always tell, of course, but there were far more white cyclists than every other race put together.

I saw only one black guy on a bike, and he was riding on the sidewalk!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 11:44 am

It was10-15 years ago, as I recall, when Bay Bridge plans were taking shape, and MTC put out an RFP for designs for the new East Span.
Who else out there was fighting to get rail capability on the Bay Bridge proposals? So many local transpo advocates and environmental groups argued with Caltrans and MTC that the bridge should be built with rail capability, at least. This was not a hare-brained notion: BART was already crowded and their modeling showed that they would reach passenger capacity about NOW, and High Speed Rail was definitely on the horizon.
Our trusted "deciders" treated this like it was the craziest idea they had ever heard, and fairly unilaterally informed the ignorant masses that there was no demand for rail on the bridge, and it just wasn't worth considering, even though their own modeling showed that we would reach car and transit capacity within 20 years.
The point is that most of the government-funded transportation agencies have a history of making expensive, foolish decisions, and directing funds at projects that would serve the fewest travelers and exacerbate traffic problems. Case it point: Caldecott Tunnel 4th bore. Another billion dollars so Walnut Creek shoppers didn't have to wait in traffic in Orinda for 5 minutes. Instead, they'll wait at the 24/580 interchange, according to transportation agency modeling.
Did anyone consider adding bike lanes? The Berkeley Hills are the biggest barrier to adding Contra Costa Cities to the Bay Area commuter cycling network.
We're supposed to be enjoying the increased health and decreased GHGs from active transportation, but support for other modes is weak, at best.

Posted by Keenplanner on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

Street level bay crossing should be at the level of the, er streets.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 11, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

expected, the CA Senate approves the rename of the entire bridge span?

Or will you immaturely and petulantly refuse to call it that out of some hopelessly misguided principle?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 9:41 am

I go to the Oakland Coliseum or Candlestick Park, sometimes over the Bay Bridge, as I always have, no matter what politicians and corporations want to call them. The misguided principle is the one that tries rename structures that were built and paid for by taxpayers.

Posted by steven on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 8:00 am

am calling hypocrisy on your new-found opposition to naming things.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 8:30 am

I think San Francisco International Airport is a fine name, although if they decide to name it after anyone, I think Milk would be an excellent choice, far better than Dianne Feinstein (it was rumors of a plan to name it after her that originally triggered the Milk idea). And I do think something significant should be named after Milk, who is dead and has an important and clearly established legacy, unlike Brown or Feinstein, who are still doing dirty deeds on behalf of their corporate paymasters and rich buddies. Whoever manages to get approval for and fund a Willie Brown sign on the bridge will probably get a city contract out of Willie's longtime lackey, Ed Lee. The corruption in this city is just that obscene.

Posted by steven on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

1) SFBG covered the Milk rename of SFO very sympathetically, so why did you not contribute at that time that you oppose any renaming? Why wait only until a political figure who you dislike is mooted as a name?

2) Brown did far more for this city than Milk who, had he not been murdered would no more be remembered now than any other Supe from that era. Can you name offhand any other Supe from back then, apart from Feinstein of course. I'll bet you cannot.

The only obscene thing in this city is your constant opportunistic flip-flopping over issues like this.

PS: I do not see why it matter whether someone is dead or not. If they made a contribution, then honor them.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

"Carlsson rejects the neoliberal approach of begging for scraps as we ride into a future that simply can't continue to be dominated by automobiles."

No, I would counter by arguing that the bike coalitions are advocating for a separate bike/ped path which will be a safer and more comfortable solution, as opposed to having the path shoehorned into the existing bridge which is not an ideal solution for any party, especially when it comes to the bridge approaches. Arguing for the best possible and more expensive build-out does not equal "begging for scraps".

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 11:54 am

an elevated bike lane. But this "best possible" solution has an obvious problem - the east span is 5 lanes and where that funnels into 4 would cause congestion and crashes - presumably in the tunnel under the island - the worst possible place for that.

Posted by anon on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

The "best possible" solution referenced in the previous comment was the separated bike path, not the on-street bike lane conversion. A separated path will not create any congestion or crash issues as it would pick up from where the east span pathway will already be landing on Yerba Buena Island, and will not go through the tunnel at all. Several alignment alternatives for the path onto the island as well as the path into SF have already been determined by the MTC (www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/bay_bridge/west_span_bike_ped.htm), and another report with even more detailed info will be out by the end of this year.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

If this billion dollar suspended bike lane is a non-starter, and it surely is, then a bike lane can only exist if the 5 lanes of traffic are funneled into 4 lanes in the tunnel, and that would be a disaster.

You can take bikes on BART and ferries. That's good enough for commuting, and leave the east span bike lane for recreational use.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

Well, not everyone is so willing to dismiss the idea of a separated path, despite the cost. The planning and construction itself will take an estimated 10 years, and then it would continue to be in use for many decades after that. Can you not imagine that it might be necessary to have a non-motorized connection across the bay by 2023, 2043, 2063?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

years, probably around the time that the "peak oil" and "global warming" scaremongering myths started out. And yet we now have more "discovered but not yet extracted" fossil fuel than in 1973, probably three times as many cars, and there is absolutely no sign that we are going to throw cars away and start riding bikes or horses or whatever else the Green Party thinks.

Alternative fuels have prolonged the private auto for another 100 years, and probably indefinitely. Do not hold your breath. This is America, not some small European principality.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

I'm not talking about an "end of the auto" scenario, just a subtle mode shift as the population, congestion, and energy prices continue to climb and more space efficient and economical methods of transportation become increasingly more reasonable in comparison. The mode share of bicycles in SF is currently at 3.4%, pedestrians at 10%, transit at 32% and private motor vehicles is at 46%. If, in the next ten years the bike mode share makes it even up to 10% (SF is unrealistically shooting for 20%) wouldn't that at least justify better transbay accommodation so as not to clog up the already crowded transit systems any further?

At current rates of growth even the capacity of the new East Span is projected to max out by 2023. Why not try to add more capacity for transbay commuters without blowing even more money on additional spans or tubes?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

It will take people off the road and onto the path- saving you time as you cross!

It's a win-win.

Posted by Clevelumbus on Sep. 12, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

car to bike even if this "bike lane to nowhere" is extended at massive cost. On purely a cost-benefit basis, it cannot be justified. On ideological grounds, who knows?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2013 @ 11:41 am

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