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Bikers arrested as they cross the Bay Bridge

By William Inman Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday October 03, 2000

Seven members of Berkeley’s “Bike the Bridge Coalition” were arrested and charged with felony conspiracy after they tried to bike across the Bay Bridge Monday morning in the middle of rush hour traffic. They were protesting a range of bike issues including Gov. Gray Davis’ veto of Senate Bill 1629, the “Good Roads Bill.” 

Sgt. Steve Dutra of the San Francisco division of the California Highway Patrol said that the bicyclists have been charged with conspiracy, fleeing, failure to yield and bicycling on a freeway. 

“They are being charged with conspiracy because this was an ongoing event,” Dutra said. “This was planned well in advance. They were trying to get as many people on the bridge to try to disrupt traffic.” 

Dutra said that about 8:50 a.m., a vehicle carrying the seven bicyclists dropped them off beyond the toll plaza and they began to bike west across the bridge. Two were stopped shortly afterward and taken to the Oakland city jail, two were diverted off the freeway at the Fremont Street ramp in San Francisco and three others were followed farther before they were stopped, promptly arrested and taken to the San Francisco city jail. 

“The ones that didn’t stop (in Oakland) have been additionally charged with failure to yield,” he said. 

Jason Meggs, spokesperson for the coalition, spoke to the Daily Planet from the San Francisco Jail. 

“We had no intention of blocking traffic and what we did didn’t hurt anyone” he said. “In fact, bicycles are traffic and everyday bicyclists are being blocked from travel even as we suffer for and subsidize single-occupancy motor vehicles. This is how we’ve expressed our outrage. The Bay Bridge should be open for bicycles; it’s better than most streets in San Francisco, the view is gorgeous and traffic went smoothly this morning. It went about 35 to 45 miles per hour.” 

Meggs said some of the bicyclists were tackled off of their bikes, and the police kept them in handcuffs for nearly four hours. 

Dutra said he was unaware of this because he was not on duty at the time of the arrests.  

Meggs said the ride was an emergency protest to Gov. Davis’ Sept. 29 veto of Senate Bill 1629, a bill that called for provisions for non-motorized traffic, such as the building of bike lanes, sidewalks and paths on all major highways in the state. 

The coalition is also protesting Davis’ veto of SB 1809, which would have allowed more trails to be built, as well as several other issues, including motorcar and oil dependency, the building of motorcar only structures such as the Bay Bridge and the discrimination against bicyclists and pedestrians by the police, motorists, government officials and city planners. 

Meggs said the last major bridge ride was Sept. 10, 1998. He said the CHP blocked the transbay terminal and Fremont off-ramps causing a major back-up, “in violation of their own law,” he said.  

Jesse Palmer, spokesperson for the Bike the Bridge coalition, said Meggs and another bicyclist were still in jail at 7 p.m. Monday. He believed that the others had been released.