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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Commuters Slowing, Stopping on Freeway to Foil Bay Bridge 'Congestion Pricing'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

click to enlarge 'We expect people to use sound judgment and common sense when they operate their vehicles and operate them in a sane manner.'
  • 'We expect people to use sound judgment and common sense when they operate their vehicles and operate them in a sane manner.'
On Day One of local bridge's foray into "congestion pricing," reports are emanating from the Bay Bridge toll plaza that local drivers are not buying in -- literally. Motorists have been spotted idling, driving excessively slowly, and even stopping in the emergency lane to avoid paying a $6 toll at 9:59 that drops to $4 at 10 a.m.

In retrospect, this sort of misbehavior should have been predictable. This gave SF Weekly the opportunity to ask the California Highway Patrol a question right out of The Big Lebowski -- "hasn't that ever occurred to you, sir?" The CHP offered a slightly different response than the one Lebowski received in the movie: "That had not occurred to us, Dude."  

Sergeant Trent Cross, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, seemed a bit taken aback that drivers would engage in risky behavior to avoid being dinged financially.

click to enlarge 'We expect people to use sound judgment and common sense when they operate their vehicles and operate them in a sane manner.'
  • 'We expect people to use sound judgment and common sense when they operate their vehicles and operate them in a sane manner.'
"You know, you would think people wouldn't make those kinds of decisions," he said. "Is it really worth saving a couple of bucks to get into a wreck? We expect people to use sound judgment and common sense when they operate their vehicles and operate them in a sane manner."

Well, that was your first mistake.

Still, this kind of dawdling and stopping was not unanticipated. Cross notes that it's against the law to stop a car on a freeway unless one is facing an emergency, and "avoiding congestion pricing is not an emergency." A fairly large number of officers were in the vicinity; our calls to regional CHP spokesman Officer Shawn Chase querying how many drivers, if any, were cited or ticketed for congestion pricing shenanigans has not yet been returned.

Update, 1:11 p.m.: Officer Herman Quon of the CHP notes that determining if any Bay Bridge congestion pricing dawdlers were ticketed isn't quite as easy as picking up the phone and shouting, "Hey Frank, you give out any tickets?" The CHP officers on the bridge are still in the midst of their 12-hour shifts -- and the CHP is loath to offer anecdotal evidence of ticketing. Instead, we'll have to go through the citations once they're processed and correlate them with the area in question (bridge tollbooths) and the offense in question (behaving like an idiot to save two dollars). In other words, this'll take a while.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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