Will Road-Hogs Pay Their Fair Share?

Rude drivers who clog the streets may soon have to pay extra for the privilege.

By Matt Baume
|  Saturday, May 7, 2011  |  Updated 8:09 AM PDT
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Will Road-Hogs Pay Their Fair Share?

Congestion pricing is one solution, but it hasn't gained any traction.

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Taxpayers pay big bucks so that the city can subsidize free and low-cost parking and roads, but new plans to shift the costs over to heavy users could change all that.

It comes down to basic economics: to discourage undesirable behavior, such as clogging streets with giant vehicles at rush hour, simply bump up the price so that road-hogs are motivated to find new ways to get around without getting in everyone's way.

Congestion pricing is one of the most promising solutions, but it's been slow to gain traction here. Despite successes in Singapore, London, and Stockholm, attempts to charge drivers for causing traffic jams have failed here in the states. According to the Bay Citizen, suburban drivers are likely to blame.

Increasingly, highways around the Bay Area are installing toll lanes, which have been proven to relieve congestion by shifting travel times of off-peak hours. Experts recommend increasing tolls even further -- a small price for drivers to pay in exchange for ending a "traffic nightmare."

Here in the city, new parking technology will gradually shift the price of parking so that high-demand spaces offer more turnover, and low-demand spaces become more attractive. Experts expect that such demand-based systems will prove more popular than congestion pricing.

Meanwhile, the city's also expanding tolls for good old fashioned infractions like blocking handicapped spaces. The fees will raise from $750 to $750 in July.

So whether someone's driving at rush hour or blocking a person in a wheelchair, being an inconsiderate driver is about to get very expensive indeed.

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