Maybe there is something to motorcyclists banning together as victims of society prejudice? Motorcyclists traveling on turnpikes, crossing toll bridges or taking a ferry may be paying more than their fair share. The majority of toll operators charge motorcycles the same rate as cars, ignoring the fact that motorcycles cause comparatively little wear to the facilities they are paying to use. In California, New York and North Carolina, motorcyclists are taking action.Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge is a daily ritual for many Bay Area motorcyclists, but they currently pay the same tolls as motorists, despite the fact that they use smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles. To combat this inequity, the AMA has joined forces with concerned motorcyclists to eliminate motorcycle tolls on the bridge. A petition with over 2,000 signatures was presented to the Golden Gate Bridge Board on September 28th, asking the board to consider eliminating the toll for motorcycles. When no action was taken, motorcyclists approached the board again, convincing the board to formally consider the proposal within the next few months.On the East Coast, the New York State Assembly is considering four bills designed to reduce tolls charged to motorcyclists. Assembly Bill 905 (http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A00905), introduced by Assemblymen William Parment (D-Chautauqua) and Senate Bill 705 (http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S00705), introduced by Senator Owen Johnson (R-Suffolk), would establish a lower toll rate for motorcycles on the 641-mile New York Thruway. Assembly Bill 2024 (http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A02024), introduced by Assemblymen James Brennan (D-Kings) and Senate Bill 1366 (http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=S01366), introduced by Senator Owen Johnson (R-Suffolk), would direct the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority of New York City to reduce tolls for motorcyclists who use the popular E-Z Pass electronic toll-collection system. The bills are currently on Governor Pataki's desk awaiting his signature. If they are not vetoed, they will become law by midnight on November 21st. Together, these four bills send a strong message that the state government of New York understands the value of motorcycles in reducing congestion and eliminating unnecessary wear and tear on the state's infrastructure.Unfair tolls aren't just limited to bridges and turnpikes. In North Carolina, motorcycles are currently assessed the same ferry tolls as automobiles, but a group of motorcyclists is petitioning for a change. The group plans to address the issue at upcoming meetings of the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division. The meetings, during which the existing toll structure will be reviewed for possible changes, will take place in Southport on December December 11th at the Town Hall at 7 pm, and on Ocracoke Island on December 4th.But alas, motorcyclists are just not considered special interest enough for most politicians. With last-minute action on November 21, his veto deadline day, New York Governor George Pataki rejected two bills that would have led to reduced tolls for motorcycles. Pataki vetoed the bills primarily because he believes the proposed state laws would interfere with rate-making powers of the Thruway Authority and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.But the governor appears to support the idea of lower tolls for motorcycles because they cause less wear and tear on pavement, so he is asking the Thruway Authority and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority to explore the issues raised in the vetoed bills. One measure, Senate Bill 705, would have required the Thruway Authority to set a toll rate for motorcycles that is less than the toll rate for cars. The bill also called for the Thruway Authority to create a separate E-Z Pass electronic toll-collection tag for motorcycles.In his veto message, Pataki said he feared that creating an E-Z Pass for motorcycles could lead to fraud, since people might use that pass in their passenger cars to avoid higher tolls. He was also concerned "that this legislation represents an inappropriate intrusion into the Thruway Authority's toll-setting policies."The other bill the governor vetoed, Senate Bill 1366, called for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority to lower tolls for motorcyclists who use the E-Z Pass. Remember, no one looks our for your rights as well as you do. You may still want to take action on motorcyclists behalf and write the interested parties on this issue. "..it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate,tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.." --Samuel AdamsCaliforniaGolden Gate Bridge Board of DirectorsPO Box 9000Presidio StationSan Francisco, CA 94129-0601Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgCopies can also be sent to:San Francisco Board of Supervisors1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlet Place #244San Francisco, CA 94102-4689Email: Board_of_Supervisors@ci.sf.ca.usNew YorkLetters in support of these bills may be sent to your Senator atNew York SenateLegislative Office BuildingAlbany, NY 12247and/orAssemblymen atNew York State AssemblyLegislative Office BuildingAlbany, NY 12247North CarolinaSend written comments to:Mr. Jerry GaskillDirector, NCDOT Ferry Division113 Arendell St.Maritime Building - Room 120Morehead City, NC 28557Or call 252.726.6446 for more information.
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