PRESS RELEASE Bike the Bridge! Coalition Contact: Jason Meggs, BTB!C East Bay Coordinator, PAGE: 510-720-2818 ; FAX: 510-486-1528 ; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Web site http://www.bikethebridge.org/ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 4, 2001 Page 1 of 2 BICYCLISTS FOR BART STRIKE Bike the Bridge! Coalition supports workers' strike despite hardships for bicyclists Demand equal access during the impending BART STRIKE OPPOSE AB 1171 which seeks to kill alternative transportation and explode new Bay Bridge costs Despite the hardships that bicyclists who commute along the Bay Bridge corridor will suffer, the Bike the Bridge! Coalition is in support of the workers' right to strike. "Bicyclists in general support the workers' right to strike because they understand that alternative transportation interests need to stick together," said Jason Meggs, East Bay Coordinator of the Bike the Bridge! Coalition. "Although transbay bicycle commuters rely heavily on BART, and will be the most impacted user group by a strike after people with disabilities, we support the workers' right to strike just as we support our right to BIKE THE BRIDGE. In general, bicyclists and pedestrians can understand the frustration as we don't get our percentage points either." In California, bicyclists and pedestrians are given less than one-half of one percent of transportation funding, yet make up more than 11% of trips and suffer over 25% of traffic fatalities. Furthermore, many people choose cycling for economic reasons as the cost of living in the Bay Area skyrockets. It is economic discrimination to prohibit bicycle access to the bridge, just as it is unjust to not pay BART workers a living wage for their important jobs. "BART workers share another interest with transbay bike commuters. Future bridge access for bicycles and trains is in jeopardy right now due to AB 1171. BART workers have to deal with an overloaded system due to the lack of options to Bay Area commuters," said Meggs. The California Legislature is pondering Assembly Bill 1171, which threatens to lock-in exorbitant cost overruns of the proposed new bridge, while striking language requiring the "promised" bicycle path. Even more importantly to Bay Area commuters, the bill eliminates language guaranteeing the funding of the Transbay Transit terminal, upon which the future of Bike the Bridge! Coalition For Immediate Release September 4, 2001 Page 2 of 2 transbay transit depends. The new bridge DOES NOT provide any increased transportation benefit, DOES NOT ensure a lifeline connection nor safety in the event of a large quake, but it DOES block future rail service on the bridge, and--evidently and most alarmingly--it seeks to quietly delete assurance that bicycle and pedestrian access will ever occur. The Bay Bridge used to carry twice as many people daily, on multi-car intercity and commuter trains as well as electric Key System interurbans. But in the 1950s, at the height of automotive hegemony, rail was stolen from the people by corrupt and powerful "special interests". Structurally, the existing bridge could again carry that rail, which would allow an effective complement to the BART system which is now at its limits. The proposed new bridge CANNOT carry such rail, however, although Caltrans claims that "light rail" could use the bridge. Caltrans' insincere light rail notion would require sacrificing an automobile lane and a shoulder in each direction of the bridge. Ensuring that even that will not happen, AB 1171 would mandate that the bridge be a ten-lane freeway for cars, with two shoulders (for cars) in each direction. No rail right of way has been allowed for in the current design. Light rail cannot provide the level of service that the original rail provided. At a time when the Governor has announced the end of expansion of automobile-only infrastructure in California, we encourage Caltrans to make the intelligent choice of MAKING THE BRIDGE WORK by allowing bicycle access and increasing carpool lanes. We ask Caltrans to abandon hopes of turning the Bay Bridge into a pork barrel or a cash cow for its favorite contractors. And we implore the Legislature to reject AB 1171, which would instantly add--to the already high cost (by world standards) of replacing the bridge--more than one thousand million dollars (one followed by nine zeros) with no justification whatsoever. The project, already touted as Caltrans' biggest ever, would double in price, while its safety factor and its capacity would remain nearly identical. Measures should be taken, instead, to ensure that the Bay Bridge becomes a safe and vital link for all modes of transport. If we fail to wake up and begin organizing a rational transportation future, the highwaymen will get all the dollars while bicyclists, pedestrians and carless people will get ZERO--ZERO access across the bay and an unlimited number of ZEROs to be added to the ever-growing billions the new ZERO-option bridge will cost. The Bike the Bridge! Coalition is calling on Bay Bridge commuters who drive to place a large ZERO on their vehicle, symbolizing their role in the bridge process. We are also calling on Caltrans to allow bicyclists to share the right-hand lane in the event of a BART strike. Many thousands would take advantage of what would then be the most reliable and for many, the quickest way across the bay. Caltrans has legal authority to make that designation. The Bay Bridge is not that unlike many San Francisco streets. The Antioch toll bridge allows bicyclists to share the right-hand lane and the Antioch has the same speed limit of 50 MPH. Caltrans can also reduce the speed limit to 35 MPH during the strike, which would allow more vehicles to use the bridge per hour. Finally, we call on Caltrans to designate multiple car-pool/bus lanes on the bridge during the strike.