Would you pay a Half Dollar to Bike Across the GWB?

half_dollar.jpgAn outraged reader points us to Benepe’s Bike Blog where journalist, cyclist (and sister of New York City’s Parks Commissioner) Jennifer Benepe has been working to improve bicycle access to the George Washington Bridge.

In a letter to the Port Authority Benepe suggests that cyclists would be happy to pay a fifty cent toll to cross the bridge, in return for "the same amenities as motorists: ramped entrances and exits, direct connections to bike routes and bike paths, such as the Westside greenway, and most importantly, 24-hour access."

I don’t think there is any serious proposal on the table to toll the GWB’s bike paths but what do you think? Would you keep a half dollar tucked into your Lycra shorts for a more bike-friendly bridge to New Jersey?

  • Eugene

    Reasons cyclists shouldn’t pay a toll on the GW bridge:

    1. Cyclists don’t damage the roadway like motorists do. There is an enourmous annual budget devoted to surface repair/replacement that doesn’t exist with the bike path. Cyclists’ “cost” to the public for bridge use is negligible in comparison.

    2. It is in the the community’s interest to encourage bicycle transportation rather that motorized. Free bridge crossing is one of many incentives that should be (and is) provided for a cleaner, safer, quieter, and less erosive mode of transportation.

  • d

    Absolutely. Cars pay tolls to use the bridge and if cyclists want all the same privileges of automobiles, we should be expected to share some of the responsibility for the upkeep of the bridges on which we ride.

    The GWB bike path is often littered, filled with hazards like pot holes and cracks, and not always safe. I’d gladly contribute a small amount per ride for repairs, general maintainence, and some sort of safety patrol on the path. (If that’s where the money wound up; such funds have a way of not being spent wisely.)

    One problem: do you charge all those who access the path or just cyclists? I don’t think walkers and runners should be charged, so would people walking their bikes be charged?

    Make it a “suggested donation” and let kids ride free and I think it’s a great move towards shared responsibility for important infrastructure.

  • crzwdjk

    I would pay the Port Authority money if they built some real improvements, such as direct connections to the West Side bike path and River Road. On the other hand, I doubt that it would be at all cost effective to collect such a toll.

  • akl

    If it meant having safer access to the southern path and a direct connection to the Westside Greenway then yes, I would pay the toll, suggested or otherwise. It’s worth the $.50 even if it is a symbolic gesture.

  • ddartley

    In setting up and running the toll collection system, the PA would probably spend as much as they take in, just like fare collection is one of the MTA’s biggest—what?—costs! (I learned that from Chris X Brodeur)

    For that, and Eugene’s reason #1 above, I oppose it.

  • Clarence

    I would never (as a cyclist) even suggest a toll of any kind whether I supported one or not. In San Francisco, the Bay Area and SF Bike Coalition is constantly having to fight back suggested $1 tolls (sometimes proposed more!) for cyclists and peds on the Golden Gate Bridge.

    It sets a very bad precedent for anyone to even suggest it. Cycling needs to be encouraged and that means removing (or not putting up additional) barriers. A free crossing under human power is the least we can ask for from our government on bridges. What would be next? 25 cents a lap in Prospect or Central Park?

    Plus as ddartley explains, ANY fare collection system would undoubtably lose money.

  • A better idea would be to set-up a public private partnership similar to Central Park Conservancy or perhaps just have an organization “Adopt” the cycling area and volunteer to keep it clean in conjunction with the PA.

  • Ted

    101006 paying $0.50 to cross GWB
    I certainly am not an advocate of paying to cycle across the GWB. However I did some calculations to see how much would be generated by ssuch as program. The assumptions are based on surveys of weekend ridership across the GWB during the peak of the cycling season. I have assumed charges would be one way only.

    as for weekend cycle crossings – maximum 1000 each way – not sure if that number isn’t too high for most of year – just on peak cycling season days

    50 weekends times 1000 = 50,000 one way crossings

    weekday crossings
    50 weeks times 5 days times 150 cyclists per day = 37,500 crossings

    Total payments
    assume charges (one way) of $0.50 times say 100,000 crossings = $50,000

    that’s certainly not a large collection adn likely more than the cost of administering the program and/or having a toll collector on the path

  • Eugene

    Also…We all pay lots of tax dollars, and there are many, many roads that are completely inaccessible to cyclists and pedestrians. It’s not unreasonable to have motorists pay the bulk of bridge expenses, considering the inequity that exists elsewhere.

  • adam

    I’d pay a dollar each way, if they’d also separate the Peds and the Cyclists.


Without access to the north outer roadway, cyclists have to either wait for a circuitous shuttle bus or find another way over the bridge. Photo: Angela Stach

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