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Hillsboro Mayor says tax from "bicycle community" needed to pay for climate change goals

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 27th, 2011 at 9:23 am

Hillsboro Mayor
Jerry Willey.

Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey is concerned that some measures being considered by our region to reach Oregon's climate change goals are too expensive and that it's time to ask "the bicycle community" to pony up to pay for some of them.

Willey's comments came during the Metro Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) meeting on Wednesday where representatives from around the Portland region discussed Oregon's climate change policies, which call for a reduction in GHG emission levels to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 and a 75% reduction by 2050.

"When we add three feet to each side of the road for a bicycle path we're adding a significant cost to the amount of the road... I don't see anything addressed in here as to what is the responsibility of the bike community to participate in that."
— Mayor Willey

Metro news reporter Nick Christensen covered the meeting. He said the discussion Wednesday focused on how cities would implement regulations and policies to reach those goals. "Anxiety about the new targets," he wrote, "was palpable."

Mayor Willey expressed concern that the new policies put too much burden on cities. "Let's do some modifications to this," he told the commitee, "so we can do something that's feasible to accomplish and not overly expensive."

Willey went on to express concerns with how cities would pay for implementation of new, transportation-related policies like improving transit, charging more for parking (and removing parking) in downtown Portland, and building more infrastructure that encourages bicycling.

Below is a transcript of his comments (emphasis mine):

"... We all aspire to have more bike lanes and certainly more bike and pedestrian streets; but who pays the cost of that? The cities do. The cities pick up 100% of the tab on that which is supplemented from gas tax revenues which are declining and from other sources that are also declining; and nothing, from actually, quite frankly, the bicycle group.

There's nothing in here that addresses, how do we get the bicycle community to start participating in that... And I know that's probably threat words but we all have to deal with that at some point in time. When we add three feet to each side of the road for a bicycle path we're adding a significant cost to the amount of the road and the cost to maintain that road, and I don't see anything addressed in here as to what is the responsibility of the bike community to participate in that.

It's just like the electric car people are not going to be paying gas tax and they're looking at taxing those folks a fee for that, for road participation. It's the same concept to me. And I'm a bicyclist, so, you know, we all gotta' help with this."

Listen to the audio clip below:

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Willey also called proposals to limit and charge more for parking in downtown Portland "draconian."

Read the full report from the meeting on Metro's website. You can also download a recording of the meeting here.

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Comments
  • Marcus Griffith May 27, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Anyone else tired of this factually incorrect and logical flawed cliche? Seriously, there's more facts to support a beard tax to pay for a law enforcement improvements than Willey's idea of taxing bicycles to pay for transportation improvements.

    Have you seen the outrageous crime rates the "bearded group" has for everything from theft to assault? When was the last time you saw a meth addict with a clean shave? I tell you, law enforcement improvements are needed and those scofflaw bearded elitists don't pay for the police services they use.

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    • gregg woodlawn May 27, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Tell him what you think:
      City of Hillsboro
      150 E. Main Street
      Hillsboro, Oregon 97123
      Phone: (503) 681-6219
      Email the Mayor
      Term expires: January 2013

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    • matt picio May 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      This is ridiculous - "3' for a bicycle path" - well, first off, that's not a path, nor even a bike lane - that's a shoulder, and it should be present on all roads to start with. A bike lane is 4' minimum and 6' preferred. A bicycle path is separated from the roadway, and is also used by pedestrians.

      So, to get this straight - the Hillsboro mayor thinks that to meet GHG targets, the city should charge the only user group actively helping the city to meet those targets. Also, he thinks they should pay for improvements to roads that don't even meet minimum standards for bike facilities, and which should be included as part of complete streets anyway - and that cyclists, which subsidize current road infrastructure disproportionate to use, should pay an additional amount.

      Good luck with that.

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      • Paul Johnson May 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

        Depends on the state. 6' is the minimum width in Oregon.

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      • bArbaroo May 31, 2011 at 9:11 am

        Matt, I thank you for being able to articulate such a succinct and rational response to a totally irrational proposal.

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  • Lee May 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    "The cities pick up 100% of the tab on that"

    So, where do the cities get their money? Fortunately, their budget is online.

    4000 Property Taxes $35,799,455

    Jonathan, can you get confirmation from the Mayor that Hillsboro "bicycle group" residents don't pay property taxes?

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    • MIke May 27, 2011 at 9:43 am

      So with that line of logic, drivers should stop paying all those gas taxes? They do pay property taxes after all.

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      • rider May 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

        Your gas tax only pays for maintenance of the roads not new construction. Your car puts wear and tear on the roads per mile, so yes continuing to pay gas tax (which is essentially a per mile by weight tax) is reasonable.

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  • LDA May 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Did you borrow this article from The Onion?

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  • Nick May 27, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I would be thrilled if we raised income or property taxes to build some truly sustainable streets. Everyone pays those taxes.

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    • Brad May 27, 2011 at 9:50 am

      No! Let's get serious about a sales tax that provides dollars for the state. As a home owner I am sick and tired of having my taxes jacked up everytime somebody wants something. I made sacrifices and saved my down payment. I put roots down in a community. I am happy to pay a fair amount of taxes for services neither my family nor I use. Just stop using my moderate success and commitment to being a permanent part of my neighborhood as an ATM for state expenses, especially when government still taxes my home at 2008 value when it is worth far less than that at current market prices.

      You want a tax that hits everyone regardless of how many shelters, advisors, write-offs, and tax lawyers they can afford? Then look at a sales tax. All raising income and property taxes does is hurt the middle class. The rich can afford to avoid them, the truly poor are generally exempted and don't own real property.

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      • Nick May 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

        Every tax is unfair in some way. You don't like property taxes. Other people don't like sales taxes. I personally don't care what form the taxes might be. I just want a better transportation system, and I'm willing to pay for it.

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        • 007 May 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

          Nick, do you live in Portland? And if you do, are you a millionaire? I'm worried if we'll be able to pay our property taxes when we retire. They're already over $5K per year for a 1200 sq ft house with a smaller lot than the typical Portland 100x50 lot.

          Re: this Hillsboro mayor story, we bike riders didn't cause global warming (i refuse to use the palatable for ignoramuses term "climate change") so why are we supposed to foot the bill?

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      • Dave May 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

        Brad, renters pay property taxes as well (unless their landlords are stupid). It's not just homeowners who have to pay more when property taxes are raised.

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        • eljefe May 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

          This is a myth that economists have thoroughly debunked. Landlords charge whatever the market will bear, which is unrelated to their costs.
          Here's a detailed and wonky explanation:
          http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2011/0311cleveland.html

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          • Daniel Miles May 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm

            ...And if those landlords can't cover their tax burdens with the prices the market will bear, they get out of the business. We're not seeing that happening on any grand scale, therefore everyone pays property tax.

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      • matt picio May 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

        Brad - we all pay those taxes, not just home owners. Renters pay them through increased rents - the landlords pass that amount along to the renter - landlords who don't - don't stay landlords for very long. The tax comes out somewhere, whether it's income, property or sales.

        Personally, I'd rather see it in the income tax, with a return to a more progressive taxation structure - but I don't think that's likely to happen since those most impacted have the most money with which to fight it.

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    • Oliver May 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

      I would also be thrilled, but only if the burden was equitably applied. Everyone pays some of those taxes, some people much less. Unfortunately do to some of the property tax limitation schemes that the folks of Oregon were conned into supporting, property taxes are no longer market based for oversized and/or ultra-luxury properties.

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  • Fritz May 27, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Dear Mr. Willey, don't build 3' on each side for me, just give me the lane. Thanks.

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    • Thomas Le Ngo May 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

      That line of thinking is sure to win points for the bike community.

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    • Peter W May 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      And we wouldn't need those 3 feet* if the roads weren't filled with giant f***ing metal death machines.

      *: Three feet is rather small for a bike lane, no? Does this guy really ride a bike?

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      • El Biciclero May 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm

        "Does this guy really ride a bike?"

        Not on any regular basis if he is implying that 3' is enough space for a "bicycle path".

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      • Mike May 31, 2011 at 8:46 am

        Happiness is a warm death machine.

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  • daisy May 27, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for that. Do not consider any of the tax I spend on gas when I use a fuel dependent vehicle as being my contribution from the cycling community.

    Stating you are also a cyclist toatally assures me that you have the base level of competency that is required for your job.

    Good luck.

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  • Michael Wolfe May 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

    So much wrong with this... I don't even know where to start.

    * As everyone here already knows, bicyclists already subsidize the hell out of automobile infrastructure. Even those of us who don't drive pay payroll taxes, property taxes, development fees, and income taxes. And we do so out of proportion to our impact on the roads.

    * Shorter Willey: Greenhouse gas remediation is expensive. Bikes are a cheap fix to the greenhouse problem. Therefore, we should make bicycling expensive! Jesus, where did they dig up this retrograde mouth breather?

    * Here's a radical notion: bike lanes aren't for bicyclists. Not any more than bus turn-outs at bus stops are for transit. They're just there to get us out of the way of cars, and to prevent automobilists from murdering people at an unacceptably high rate. If there were fewer cars, or at least some other reasonable restraint on motor vehicles' propensity to carom off everything else on the roadway, there's no reason cycling would need any special infrastructure.

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    • john May 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Couldn't agree more.
      And my property taxes are already draconian ! I am sick of paying high taxes so that people can zoom around in cars/trucks, ruin expensive infrastructure (or demand more!), and pollute my family (eg CRC insanity).

      I am all for free market and free enterprise, but when it is at the expense of human health and life, when it is killing us and poisoning us, this un-american, un-patriotic (on so many levels! ) car based lifestyle needs to be limited or at least better alternatives highly encouraged, promoted and seen as good.

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      • michweek May 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

        It's the free market that got us here. It obviously ain't working for the majority of us. "We can't solve problems by using the same kind o thinking we used to create them." - Albert Einstein

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        • Another Doug May 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

          No, it is not a free market that got us here. It is a market in which motor vehicles and the roads for them are heavily subsidized by the rest of us. The right wingnuts love to point to free market economics as the basis for sprawl and this country's auto-dependance. We have anything but a free market when it comes to transportation choices.

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    • pfarthing6 May 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      Here here!
      Yes, why don't more cage-heads figure this out? The bike lane is not for me, it's for you, b/c you don't know how to drive or share the road without risking somebodies life.

      As well, most of us cyclists have cars and so pay gas tax, registration fees, and property tax as either owners or renters. We pay quite enough to support the car oriented infrastructure. And b/c we want our money used a bit differently than it has been, like to encourage low impact transportation that is accessible and healthy for all, we have to pay more????? WFT?

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    • 007 May 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

      You have a point about bike lanes serving to get us out of the way, but I find that more often than not, bike lanes allow me to freely keep moving forward, passing the drivers while they are stuck in traffic.

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  • mikeybikey May 27, 2011 at 9:45 am

    illogical, but i'm less concerned about his ideas about bicycle taxes and more concerned about his classifying Portland's attempts to limit and charge more for parking as draconian. I think Brookings released a study sometime ago showing that the best policy decision a city can make in order to encourage a shift to alternative transportation is to make parking an expensive and scarce commodity. Its this kind of thing that reveals he (and other folks in important positions) are engaging in magical thinking when it comes to solving our energy, climate change and transportation problems.

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    • Tacoma May 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

      "It's this kind of thing that reveals he (and other folks in important positions) are engaging in magical thinking when it comes to solving our energy, climate change and transportation problems."

      True dat.

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    • Ryan Good June 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm

      Check out Donald Shoup's book, The Hidden High Cost of Free Parking- it shows pretty plainly how much "free/cheap" parking actually costs.

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  • Jack May 27, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Feel free to point out any error in my reasoning, but it seems like the people who are already doing a great deal to tackle climate change should not be asked to pay more to achieve climate change goals.

    Should we put a tobacco tax on nicotine chewing gum? How about a health care tax on gym memberships?
    Better yet, let's put a corn subsidy tax on all food that does not contain high fructose corn syrup.

    Maybe it would make more sense to put an extra tax on people who are doing nothing to tackle climate change. Add a tax for residents who's gas and/or electric bills are in the top 25 percentile. Add a tax for drivers who's fuel consumption is in the top 25 percentile. Add a tax for people whose vehicle's mpg is in the bottom 25 percentile.

    You don't get change by discouraging the change you're after! Mr. Willey needs a logic consultant.

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    • BURR May 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      exactly!

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    • Sam May 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Jack, explain to me how I am supposed to service my client in Astoria at 9am and then be at a presentation at noon in Portland then see 5 more customers that day all on a bicycle? So I should be taxed based on my job requirements (driving)?
      What do you do for a living? Use a computer? You should be charged a per minute tax because of the electricity used, the heat generated, and the energy used to run all internet companies and servers your activities online interact with.
      And what about beer and coffee? I think we should tax both of these items 10%. Do you know how much heat, energy and water it takes to run just one small coffee shop? Not to mention how much waste is created with each cup poured!
      Most everyone's reasoning here makes me think that if someone isn't living a life just as you do, punish and tax them because they are bad, evil, rich, metal killing machine driving, anti bike people!
      Bikrahm yoga folk should be charged a tax for the above average energy used to heat the room. What? They use more than the average yoga studio, right?

      I see natural awakening being delivered in a range rover that gets 10 miles to the gallon! How is that green?

      And how is it everyone let's this comment roll of the tounge so easily? "tax the rich, they can afford it."
      that can only be believed a couple more times before the
      "rich" become middle class and well, you know all too well that the middle class can't afford to pay anything

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      • Paul Johnson May 31, 2011 at 5:37 pm

        The tax structure in this country is incredably regressive as it stands right now, with the working class paying the majority of the burden while corporations and the top 2% (ie, those who make $200,000+/year) pretty much skate.

        This is me playing the world's saddest song on the world's tiniest violin. If you don't want to pay your fair share for a society that gave you your fortune, do the rest of us a massive favor and move to Somalia; I believe you'll find the tax structure to be ideal to your situation.

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      • Alan 1.0 May 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm

        Sam, did you really read Jack's post? Where do you see a call for "tax the rich?" I don't see any. Your response actually supports Jack's position. Computer users seek energy-efficient machines in part because of rising electricity costs. Coffee and beer drinkers make their choice to fully pay for each beverage they consume, and brewers aren't giving it away below their costs. Hot yoga classes cost more than others due to the energy costs. As a car driver, why aren't you paying for all the costs that your car use imposes? Why does your job deserve public subsidy?

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      • El Biciclero June 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

        Alan is right--in all the scenarios you describe, you are talking about products that are sold on the so-called "free market" where the users of those products pay the full cost for the product. People don't pay taxes on those products because Oregon doesn't have a sales tax (talk about regressive...). If you actually had to fully cover the cost of the roads you use to get from Astoria to Portland and around town by paying tolls for every road that were proportional to the wear & tear you were putting on those roads, guess how much more you would be paying? (I don't know--I'd be guessing, too--but since we know that gas tax and registration fees DON'T cover the costs, it would definitely be MORE than you are paying now). Be thankful that roads are socialized to the point that drivers don't have to bear the full cost of driving. Also be thankful that oil companies receive tax breaks to the tune of $5 Billion per year so you don't have to pay the full cost of gasoline. Driving is extremely expensive, but since the vast majority of citizens are addicted to it, government has seen fit to subsidize it to the point that it appears to be affordable to most people, but it is only made affordable by way of government assistance that comes at the expense of everyone--drivers and non-drivers alike.

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      • pfarthing6 June 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

        Duh. If I turn my computer on, the electricity I use is metered and I pay monthly. When I buy coffee, all the energy and effort required to brew that coffee has been calculated and I pay even more than that so the makers can swing a profit.

        So then, are you suggesting that you'd be willing to have a meter installed in your car and pay for the miles you log? Sounds like a good idea to me, but I doubt you'd do it.

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        • Paul Johnson June 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

          Not a meter on my car, no. But there's another way to accomplish the same thing with less intrusion into privacy, and it works well. It's called PikePASS, and it works well.

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  • pat h May 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Wow. "Let's tax an activity that should be encouraged." what logical thinking. Maybe we should tax activities that CAUSE global warming...

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  • Pliny May 27, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Two quick thoughts on this stupidity.

    1.) If the idea is to convince people to get out and ride instead of drive, charging extra in taxes is not an incentive.

    2.) If you actually start taxing cyclists for infrastructure, they're going to start demanding a lot more than a 3' afterthought.

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    • are May 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

      i am not asking for anything except for motorists to leave me the hell alone. let's quantify that as a budget line item.

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  • Oliver May 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

    It’s discussions like this that make it so trying to remain politically engaged sometimes.

    Making reasoned, informed responses to this clown’s arguments is predicated on the assumption that his statements were made in good faith. It’s not just that they are false, or that he’s regurgitating discredited ideas. The problem is that he knows that it’s untrue, unreasonable and unfair, and yet he’s expecting( and getting) a dialogue from the community about them. Responding to him, and all others like him is essentially ‘feeding the trolls’.

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  • Pliny May 27, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Pliny
    2.) If you actually start taxing cyclists for infrastructure, they're going to start demanding a lot more than a 3' afterthought.

    Er... taxing them specifically for bike infrastructire. We're all still paying gas, income and property taxes (even if rent, it's being passed on to us)

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  • justin May 27, 2011 at 10:05 am

    There may be some amount of truth to what he is saying (small amount). current transportation funding is heavily paid for by non-user fees (no news there), but i don't think that should be an excuse for those of us to ride bikes or walk to be eternally exempt from user fees for infrastructure. if a fair system were established that taxed infrastructure users fairly (with some excess for those that can't pay - children, disabled, etc) i would be on board. i have no clue how this would actually work.

    That being said, i think the mayor's real goal here is to get some amount of tax for those that ride bikes and add it to the already unfairly collected transportation funds further penalizing the users that save the city the most money. This, i am definitely not okay with.

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    • pfarthing6 May 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      For taxes to be fair, they must apply equally and fairly too all, regardless if that revenue directly benefits any particular tax payer. The point of a tax is to benefit the community as a whole, which implies a diversity of interest, not all of which will be empathetic to each other.

      What you are talking about is known as a "fee" where those who benefit directly pay directly, either individually or as a group.

      Personally, I'd be all for that kind of fee structure instead of taxes. Those that use the services or those for whom the services are intended should bear the weight of sustaining those services. And if that were the case, the cost of owning and operating a motor-vehicle of any kind would be a heckuva lot higher.

      And alright, bikes use the road and would pay too, but factor in the actual impact of bikes on the road way where a paved road would last 20 years before needing attention and only be 3-4 feet wide, and nothing but yield and direction signs were required ....well, I don't think it would cost too much for the cyclists.

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  • Marcello Napolitano May 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

    My Washington County and City of Hillsboro property tax pays for the road and road maintenance that the Hillsboro Major and other deadbeat drivers use, that should be paid by much higher gas taxes. When are drivers going to start paying their fair share?

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  • kgb May 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

    What a complete failure. Does he have any idea how stupid he sounds? Everything he said is completely backwards and upside down with regard to the topic he is addressing. Since he says he is a bicyclist (note to Jerry if you want to not look like more of a fool, which I admit is a challenge for you at this point, try just plain cyclist) he must not pay any taxes and that is where he gets the idea that no other people who ride bikes pay taxes.

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    • Pliny May 27, 2011 at 10:25 am

      The problem is that he doesn't sound stupid to his target audience: drivers.

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    • Tacoma May 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      "Does he have any idea how stupid he sounds?"

      From time to time, during meetings at my job, I say things that don't just sound stupid, they ARE stupid. But then the other people in the meeting say, "What?" and I think about what I just said. Then I have to say, "That was stupid, wasn't it?"

      I'm guessing that he has nobody to say "What?" or he really can't figure it out when they do say "What?"

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  • Bob_M May 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Does the Mayor not think we pay for climate change with every breath we take that filters motor vehicle exhaust out of the air?

    Oh man this whole us/vs them thing get tiresome

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  • stacey May 27, 2011 at 10:17 am

    We should really focus the discussion on buildings if we want to reduce GHG emissions. Yes, addressing the transportation piece of the pie is important too, but buildings cannot be overlooked if we want to meet our goals. http://architecture2030.org/the_problem/buildings_problem_why

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    • AC May 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Yes, if GHG reduction is the goal then retro-fitting buildings is the way to go. And, improving the energy efficiency of buildings would probably be a lot easier sell.

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    • 007 May 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

      It should be well known by now that our bloodthirsty consumption of meat is the number one cause of global warming. The production of meat releases more greenhouse gases than industry and transportation combined. This is merely one story:
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-greenhouse-hamburger

      You can't be a meat-eating environmentalist.

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      • Paul Johnson May 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

        Except meat is found in nature. And it's pretty hard (read: impossible) to be vegan and have a balanced diet, body mass, muscle, culinary taste...

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        • Ryan Good June 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm

          +1. I know plenty of vegans who will lecture me about eating meat while they are eating oranges grown in Florida, veggies grown in mega-acreage agribusiness farms in Southern California (irrigated with water from everywhere BUT SoCal), and tofu from soy that was grown on land that used to be virgin South American rain forest before it was bulldozed to plant thousands of acres of soy for tofu production. Dear Vegans- meat is not the enemy, corporate-industrial agribusiness is the enemy.

          Sorry for the slightly off-topic rant...

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          • Paul Johnson June 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm

            Why is this point so rarely made in the eastern and pacific time zones? Go to a grocery store in Tulsa and pick up any random dairy or produce item, and odds are it's got a label for some independent farm that you could easily drive to in a day, with the notable exception of Tillamook cheese (which is, astonishingly, a LOT cheaper there than it is in Oregon, even with the sales tax!) and produce that isn't native to, or grows well in, the southern plains.

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  • Jim Hunt May 27, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Page 6 of the Hillsboro budget shows that County Gas tax only accounts for 1% of total taxes collected. Property tax (67%) & Local option tax (28%) comprises 95% of total tax revenues. So it would appear that Hillsboro residents pay for 95% of Hillsboro road construction & maintenance without visiting a gas pump or paying gas taxes.

    Curious to hear why the Mayor appears to be misrepresenting the contribution of Hillsboro's taxpayers?

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    • Evan May 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

      And what percent of their budget goes OUT to pay for a transportation system that almost exclusively serves cars? I'll bet my grandmother it's more than 1%.

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  • brian May 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Me no like tax. Me like car.

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  • Dave May 27, 2011 at 10:36 am

    It costs a city as much as 1 MILE of highway to put in bike lanes and signage in total...Wow! Look it up! Bicyclists usually own vehicles and pay other taxes. Very few people actually go totally car-free. The cost in health benefit savings alone for people who stay healthy is more than enough to justify bike lanes.This is just more way to tax and make money using ignorant stereotypes. Should we then tax public transportation? Cycling improves congestion and quality of life for everyone and should be encouraged. Driving should be more heavily taxed if anything. Gas is twice as high in Europe...it is past time we did more to be responsible and not live like there is no tomorrow. Love all these quick fixes the politicians have to get re-elected and fill coffers.

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    • 9watts May 27, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      "Very few people actually go totally car-free. "
      about 1 in six households in Multnomah Co. (~18%). Not that few really.
      But I agree with the rest of your comment, Dave.

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  • Brett M May 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

    What fantastic logic! We should pay taxes for the services we use, eh? Well, in that case, could you please refund me the portion of my property taxes that went to the school districts? You see, I don't have kids, so I shouldn't have to pay for those services. Once I've received that refund check, I'll be happy to contribute it to bike lane construction since those are services I use.

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    • JF May 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      I could not agree with you more!

      Maybe they should also tax my poor grandma who does not drive or get out much at all anymore due to her age to help with these projects.

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  • Halster May 27, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I saw this coming last year when, Tuesday after Tuesday Mr Mayor came outside after council meeting to visit vendors at the Tuesday MarketPlace. Week after week, he walked right by our booth at the plaza where we promote bicycle safety clinics and classes. Week after week, he would look our way and then walk over to another vendor. Just because you ride a bike sometimes doesn't make you a cyclist, Jerry.

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  • Alan 1.0 May 27, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Are you now or have you ever been a member of The Bicycle Community?

    (and where do I get a card to carry?)

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  • Halster May 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

    3' wide bike lanes?!?

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    • are May 27, 2011 at 11:04 am

      no, he is talking about a shoulder

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  • Allan May 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I'm fine with the 5$/bike fee idea at time of sale. It doesn't have the high overhead costs associated with it that come with licenscing fees, etc. If that were collected, I think that this stupid argument would go away. Would there be another obviously stupid argument coming afterwards or would that be the end of the story?

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    • NF May 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

      I'm with you... if we have something symbolic, maybe it will shut people up. On the other hand, it would still be a small drop in the bucket, and would come nowhere near paying for infrastructure projects. That would just be one more thing for people to complain about.

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    • Alan 1.0 May 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      Do you really think that even perfectly just distribution of wealth would end all "stupid arguments?" (I'm not saying that better justice isn't worth arguing for, only that the argument will need to continue.)

      If one segment of society is already unjustly burdened with supporting another segment, how will increasing their burden reduce the injustice?

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      • NF May 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

        It won't reduce the injustice, but it will be easier to explain. It's more of a PR thing.

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        • Alan 1.0 May 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm

          OK, I understand where you're coming from but I still don't agree. Some would call it appeasement (a loaded term) and it would not stop the yammering from the car-crazed set, at least not until it reached the same $43/biennial* rate of electric motorcycles. Even then there would still be many calls to keep bicycles completely separated from auto traffic, resulting in second-rate service to bike riders, and to fund bike infrastructure only with those registration fees. That would be a net loss for bikes and also probably for cars, as bikes would no longer be viable for some people who would return to driving, thus adding to congestion, street wear and the various externalized and unallocated costs of cars.

          The problem is that we, as a society, have become dependent upon a system which we increasingly cannot afford, and which we have fooled ourselves into thinking it was affordable by hiding both the costs and the funding for the system. The solution is NOT further hiding the costs by spreading them over onto other systems (such as taxing bikes) but instead involves honestly assessing the true costs of cars and car dependency and then allocating those costs so that personal choices reflect responsibility for the real costs.

          *Thanks for the new rates, A.K.

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    • JF May 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      Also, if we could guarentee that it would go toward bike infrastructure and not put into the general fund.

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    • Halster May 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

      And then, when we have to add that $5 to a $25 as is bike, that homeless person doesn't have the extra $5, do we (Frans Pauwels Community Bike Center in Hillsboro) pay it?

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    • Mindful Cyclist May 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Maybe the $10 extra fee for all the "Share the Road" plates should simply go to building bike infrastructure.

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  • Anne May 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I'm in favor of it. Let there be a small fee to "license" a bike when purchased or a small add-on tax when someone buys a bike in Portland or Hillsboro or Where Ever. I am going to be driving an Electric Car and I will have to pay a "Gas" tax to help maintain roads. I pay taxes now for schools that I have never used and school taxes for children I don't have. Everyone should pay their share.

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    • Alan 1.0 May 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      People who ride bikes already pay their share. In fact, for the amount of road space they take up and the wear-and-tear on the roads their riding contributes, they pay more than their share. Read Whose Roads.

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    • Halster May 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Sales tax on bikes only!?!

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  • Steve Brown May 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Funny how this type of logic seems to match up well with the $5 is too much for the Sellwood Bridge crowd in Clackamas County. Would also like to know more about his alleged bike riding habits. Rides to work?
    OBRA member? Owns two fixies? Has bike rack on back of SUV to take bike to Sauvie Island? Has this guy read and understands transportation studies that shows more bikes easing urban congestion and helps businesses in clogged areas.

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  • The Captain May 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Okay fine I'll pay my payment for my use, where do I drop off my one dollar bill?

    As usual he completely forgets how much money bikes save, compared to having to add 8 lanes of traffic. A bunch of fat people not realizing they cost more than bike infrastructure with their lack of good health, oh what a surprise there! Quick go to the Taco Bell and get another burrito slammer!

    Can I pay to seal off the highway route to Hillsboro? They can live in their futuristic paradise of car hell and never have to worry about "commie pinko" bikers ever again, and ironically subsidize car culture while declaring us freeloaders for the rest of their pathetic non-existence.

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  • Tim Chevalier May 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Everyone should pay! ...oh, except people who drive cars and park them downtown.

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  • Dave May 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I just want to know what the "bike group" is and how they are not normal members of society like everyone else.

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  • jeff May 27, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I just love when politicians don't do their homework, but still feed the need to talk about issues they apparently know little about. Does Jerry want "the pedestrian walking group" to start paying their fare share of sidewalk expense as well?

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    • Brett M May 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

      Amen. It's about time for those blind folks to start paying for the audible devices on the crosswalk signals, too.

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  • Eric on Blue Island May 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Jeanne Stewart, anti-bridgers in Clack, now this.

    Be nice if the lies, costs, and cognitive dissonance got a thorough exposure in a real newspaper or actual TV broadcast in prime time. No slight to Mr. Maus and crew--I'm a former NWer now reading from the midwest and this is one of the consistently best resources in the country. However, my impression is that mainstream media in PDX and environs isn't up to it.

    But alas.

    Good post, Jim Hunt.

    E

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  • eli bishop May 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    how does he expect to reach "a reduction in GHG emission levels" by taxing the very thing that encourages that? seriously!

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  • beelnite May 27, 2011 at 11:26 am

    LDA
    Did you borrow this article from The Onion?

    NICE!

    But seriously - I am sick to death of ignorant lawmakers. For NOT the last time:

    Bike lanes are not for cyclists - they're to move cyclists out of the lane and into a more vulnerable position so drivers can exceed the speed limit and endanger everyone and right hook and ACCIDENTALLY KILL cyclists.

    Period.

    If everyone shared the road and didn't act like a jerk then we wouldn't need "EXTRA" lanes.

    Y'all said everything else. Thanks for readin down this far.

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  • beelnite May 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I think the "Bike Culture" is right over there next to the "Portland Bike Scene". I guess that's kind of the AAA of bicycles there... cept you don't get a sticker or a card and no one's around to fix your fixie except yourself.

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  • wsbob May 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

    "... When we add three feet to each side of the road for a bicycle path we're adding a significant cost to the amount of the road and the cost to maintain that road, ..." Jerry Wiley, Mayor of Hillboro, quoted in bikeportland article

    Actually, adding three feet (it should be at least four feet.) to each side of the road for a bike path, helps avoid the expense, effort and massive, dubious consequences to the community as a whole, of adding additional 12 foot wides main travel lanes (to allow for motor vehicle usage.) to each side of the road.

    Mayor Wiley, if at some time you happen to glance over to this story and comments in response...which is likely to be less expensive and more advantageous to the entire community; 8 feet width of bike lane or 25 feet width of main travel lane?

    I have to drive sometimes, but dread peak commute hours in the motor vehicle. So instead, if I have to travel by vehicle somewhere during those hours, I either don't drive, or...I take the bike, because it's better traveling in the often substandard bike lane than it is in the packed to the gills main travel lanes.

    Mayor Wiley, my having shared with you, this description of my modest contribution towards meeting future GHG emission levels, I encourage you to think about and tell everyone here whether you really think people like myself, as members of communities that rely on roads for travel, are not paying at least a fair, and perhaps even more than a fair share of paying for road infrastructure.

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  • q`Tzal May 27, 2011 at 11:59 am

    To somewhat explain municipality's ration panic leading to irrational conclusions check out the chart at Sources of State Road Funding by the Uni of Iowa.
    Short and concise in 8 pages it shows an informative chart on page 2 that shows that Oregon's road funding comes from:
    () Vehicle Taxes: 39.6%
    () Fuel Taxes: 51.3%
    () General fund: 4.0%
    () Other: 5.2%

    While I don't agree with his conclusion he came up with it has been obvious to the state gov since 2001 that they have to come up with a new source of funding as peak oil reduces demand for petro fuels directly impacting available funding. Everyone is looking for a scapegoat; the process of electing people to office get people that are popular and not necessarily educated.
    ---------------------------------------
    For more current, 2009, numbers check out USDOT FWA page Highway Statistics 2009.
    In particular Disposition of State Highway-User Revenues - 2009
    Disposition of State Motor-Fuel Tax Receipts
    Disposition of Receipts From State Imposts on Highway Users
    Local Government Funding For Highways - Summary - 2008 : seems to show that local fund for road expenditures comes mostly from the general fund which everyone pays.

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    • Alan 1.0 May 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

      Re: http://www.uiowa.edu/~ipro/Papers%202006/roadfunding012307.pdf

      I am sceptical of those numbers. Oregon vehicle registration is among the lowest nationally ($35/year?) and its fuel taxes are just a bit above average, so how do those figures end up so much higher than the national average?*

      The UIOWA ICAN study cites http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohim/hs04/htm/sf1.htm as the source of that data. That FHWA DOT data says:

      Oregon 2004

      HIGHWAY-USER REVENUES >>> 57.0%
      - MOTOR- FUEL TAXES 385,463 >>> 32.2%
      - MOTOR- VEHICLE AND MOTOR- CARRIER TAXES 297,253 >>> 24.8%
      TOTAL RECEIPTS 1,198,718 >>> 100%

      So, 57% user fees and taxes means that 43% came from other, non-user fees and taxes in Oregon in 2004. That's a big gap from the UIOWA numbers.

      It should be very obvious that this argument is not going to go away, no matter how many times the logic is pointed out. It needs facts. I would really like to see a reputable organization put together a solid case using hard numbers from official government budgets for local and regional DOTs. BTA? PBOT? PSU? OSU? WSU? UW?

      *That same UIOWA study said, "On average, states raise 38% of their road funds from fuel taxes and 22% from vehicle registration fees. Bonds make up 18% and the remaining 22% comes from other taxes and tolls."

      Also: http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf

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  • Susan Otcenas May 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Lots of energy here folks. Send these comments to the Mayor. Commenting here does little to let him know your opinion!

    My letter, sent today:

    Dear Mayor Wiley,

    I am writing in regards to comments you made at Wednesday's MPAC meeting. You stated your opinion that bicyclists should be charged in some way to help pay for bicycling infrastructure on our roadways. You suggested that cities receive "nothing, from actually, quite frankly, the bicycle group." This statement is factually incorrect. While gas taxes do contribute to the maintenance of our roadways, the fact is that the vast majority of the funds to pay for the construction and maintenance of our roadways comes from other sources including property taxes, state and federal income taxes, etc.

    It is further interesting to me that this statement was made during a meeting to discuss how the Metro region will meet the state's greenhouse gas emissions targets. I would posit that a tax that *discourages* bicycling (an inherently clean, quiet and pollution free form of transportation) will not help our region meet these goals. Rather, it would be more beneficial to implement taxes and fees that discourage DRIVING, including higher parking fees, higher gas taxes, reduced speed limits, higher automobile registration fees, etc.

    Respectfully,

    Susan Otcenas
    President
    Team Estrogen, Inc.
    21350 NW Mauzey Rd
    Hillsboro, OR 97124

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    • D. L. Grigsby May 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Someone in her article comments thanked Elly Blue for posting the pdf version of her report with the numbers. I couldn't find it; do you know where I might be able to get a copy?

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      • Alan 1.0 May 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm

        Blue refers to Todd Litman's Whose Roads. It is an excellent piece and should be used as a model for additional studies in many cities including Portland, using the specifics of those city's budgets and funds.

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  • Kenji May 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Yo B Ross- no more Cross Crusade in Hillsboro?

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  • Chris I May 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I love his comment because there are many levels of utter stupidity. His basis for the argument is flawed, as is his suggested solution. Double-win.

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  • D. L. Grigsby May 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    A Proposal for a Bicycle Tax for Bicycle/Pedestrian Infrastructure:
    A roadway must be built to support the weight of the vehicles using it; therefore, most roads are built to handle semi-truck loads due to the dependence commerce has on them. For this discussion let’s limit our example to the wear and tear the average car in the USA would cause to the road; costs to society from the pollution, traffic wrecks and greenhouse gasses they emit notwithstanding.
    The average weight of a car in the USA is about 4,000 pounds (without occupants) while my commuting bicycle, fully loaded (without rider) is, say, 50 pounds.
    The fair and reasonable thing to do would be to tax a car or bicycle based on weight, since the heavier a vehicle is, the more wear and tear it causes to the infrastructure.
    The question is, how much should be charged per pound of car or bicycle per year? 5 cents? 10 cents? I don’t know; but, let’s just say 5 cents for now.
    For the car: that would come to (4000LBS)($ 0.05) = $200 per year weight based tax.
    Now for my 50 LB bicycle:
    (50LBS/4000LBS) = 0.0125 This is the scale ratio of bicycle to car.
    (0.0125)($200) = $2.50 per year weight based tax.
    Considering that all of the existing bicycle infrastructure in Portland only cost approx. what one mile of an urban four-lane highway costs, this seems more than fair. But, you know? I’ll kick in $10 per year…what the hell! The Automobile commuters would not even pay $5 per year for a new Sellkirk bridge!
    This is a simplistic example since the actual cost of a mile of urban highway versus a mile if cycle track is not taken into account here (because I don't know those numbers); but, that would probably be a better way to assess the proper tax a car or cyclist. If I were to venture an intuitive guess, that method would probably yield a much higher roadway tax on the driver than they are currently paying yearly for their registration, gas-tax, etc.

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    • peejay May 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      DL:

      Road damage and wear is related to weight, but not in a linear scale. Many people use the cube of the weight over each axle as a way to calculate the difference in wear on a road surface, although the AASHO uses a "Fourth Power Rule" for their calculations. Additionally, there are factors such as tire size and type, axle spacing, suspension issues, etc.

      So, in your example, a 4000lb vehicle doesn't do 80x more damage than a 50lb vehicle; it's actually much, much more. Let's try the third power. That would yield a 512000x difference between the two vehicles, but you did forget the weight of the driver, solet's add 200lb to each, and the weight ratio is 4200/250, or 16.8, with a wear ratio of 4741. If you want to charge the owner of the car with a $200 tax, then it would be fair to charge the owner of the bike with a $0.04 tax. This is a fee I would gladly pay, although the administrative costs might make it inefficient to collect.

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      • D. L. Grigsby May 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm

        I agree, they most likely do cause many times more wear and tear than cycles; but, I don't know what that number is. I am just suggesting a method to go about it using a simple example so that the good mayor and his constituents can understand it. In any event, I think by proportionally linking the amount cyclist pay to the amount drivers pay, that in itself would keep the tax extremely low for cyclists since drivers voted down the measly $5 per year Sellkirk bridge tax, which only constituted only a portion of the total cost of that project. If, you actually compared and ratio from the costs of Bicycle to Automobile infrastructure, they would pay thousands more per year, as someone previously mentioned.

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        • D. L. Grigsby May 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm

          BTW, I didn't forget the weights of the driver or rider; I didn't include them with the bike or the car so it is an equivalent comparison and is negligible compared to the weight of the car and the capacity of the road which is actually built to support large commercial vehicles; but, don't dare speak of taxing industry and comerce.

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          • peejay May 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

            Not to be pedantic, but you can't just subtract an equal amount (driver weight) from both the numerator and divisor of a ratio and have it come out equal. You saw that the ratio changed from 80:1 to 16.8:1 just by adding driver weight.

            But yes, we're in total agreement policywise: if the fee were proportional to the cost of use, it would hardly be worth collecting.

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  • DK May 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Uh...I'm a cyclist and I already contribute through my gas taxes. End of story.

    Bike infrastructure is very nearly a "one-time" cost. While it's not free to implement, their maintenence costs are little-to-nothing over long periods of time.

    How about children on bikes? Are we going to start hustling them for their lunch money?

    Get a clue.

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    • davemess May 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      We have to keep painting the bike lane lines back on the road though, due to studded tires!!

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  • Oliver May 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Add this to the list of my contributions: sweat equity.

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  • BURR May 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    If we are really serious about addressing climate change, we shouldn't be adding three feet to both sides of every road to accommodate cyclists, we should be taking 10 feet away from motorists on both sides of every road to accommodate cyclists.

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  • Kristen May 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    First off, I didn't know that because I ride a bike I'm part of some "group".

    Secondly, I drive and own a home. I'm gainfully employed. Ergo, I'm paying taxes to the state for roads, through employment taxes, property taxes and the taxes on driving my car.

    If Mayor Wiley will give people in the bicycle group a credit for taxes paid as car owners, home owners, and employed individuals (and, in some cases, employers), then maybe, just maybe, this idea may make sense, in a weird sort of way.

    Additionally, imposing a fee or tax on something that helps you accomplish your goals seems like an inefficient way to accomplish your aim. But an efficient way to totally fail at reaching your goals.

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  • Opus the Poet May 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    A couple years back I did the numbers on bike v other modes using the AASHTO formula of the ratio of the 4th power of the most heavily loaded axle and the GVW of single-track vehicles (bicycles and motorcycles) and came up with a range of 1100 BU for a micro-compact car to 8000 BU for a luxury SUV, to 160,000,000 BU for a semi at the legal limit of 40 tons for interstate haulage. 1 BU = bicycle loaded to 350 pounds gross weight. And yes a legal limit semi does as much damage to the road surface in one trip as 160,000,000 bicycles riding single file. I don't have the math to figure out how many more it would take if they rode 4 wide in the same tracks as the semi.

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  • Paul Johnson May 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    This guy doesn't get that the car free community subsidizes motorists, does he?

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  • Rollie May 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I still say, not altogether unseriously, just stop paving, repairing and maintaining the roads altogether. No more budget shortfall! No need for taxes everyone hates. People seem to forget that when there's a budget shortfall (expenses > income) there are TWO sides of the equation and TWO ways of dealing with it.

    I suppose I'm venturing into a realm that's pretty remote to most discussions even here on bp.o (and forget the mainstream media altogether), but I only want to plant the question in your mind: Why is more and more pavement always a foregone conclusion, something for which we "have to" find a funding source? Look around: It's not 1950, with 25-cent gasoline and a road-building craze, it's 2011, likely a couple years past peak oil production. When oil becomes scarce, are we going to wish we had paved more roads, or are we going to wish we had deployed our dwindling resources someplace maybe that would've helped us prepare for a much less automotive future?

    It would be imminently smart to reframe questions like these, tiresome, time-wasting debates like these, not as "Gosh who is going to pay for all this pavement?" but "What are some better ways we could spend the money we have?"

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    • AC. May 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

      And paving plus maintaining paved infrastructure has GHG consequences, too. How many bike rides does it take to compensate for those impacts, I wonder.

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    • Robert May 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

      Rollie has a good point. Public policy ideally would be guided by a broad look at what we're doing. However the way things are done, it turns into a big whack-a-mole game, dealing with the crisis of the day and putting out sound bites. Bah.

      The discussion about payment according to weight and payment damage is interesting. If the decisions were made in any fair way then Jeff Bernard's proposal to charge more (or ban) studded tires would pass by acclamation.

      The analysis based on pavement damage leaves out an important factor--the cost of real estate. People in cars don't want to give up a lane or a parking strip, they feel some kind of ownership of that space. To make a road wider means taking a slice from adjoining property owners. And ultimately, the best routes for long distance bicycle travel are already dedicated to other uses. We (or somebody) decided it was worthwhile back in the 1950s to rip up a lot of countryside and big slices of existing communities to put in interstate highways. Good luck getting that for bikes!

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  • Jerry_W May 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Let's give more tax breaks to oil companies,spend more on the military and add a bicycle tax. Yeah, that's fair AND smart. Where do we come up with guys like Wiley and Paul Ryan, and how the hell do they get elected to office?????? Idiots, the more they talk the dumber they sound.

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  • efairlay May 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I've seen a lot of very intelligent comments (esp. from OPUS THE POET, among others) but remember the reason that bicycling is so great is due to our commitment. This is the reason we rock as a bicycling community. We're committed. Let's not get too in love with our smart soundbites, let's just keep moving forward and not put him down. The idea he presents, that bicyclists should contribute, isn't that ridiculous, even though we are opposed to it (for good reasons). Just keep moving forward, stand firm, and remember to show respect. The issue of bicycling is already polarized enough.

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    • Alan 1.0 May 28, 2011 at 2:00 am

      efairlay
      The idea he presents, that bicyclists should contribute, isn't that ridiculous, even though we are opposed to it (for good reasons).

      Can you point to any post in this discussion which says that bicyclists should not contribute to DOT funds? I see no such posts.

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    • BURR May 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

      respect for what? the opinion of every ignorant doosh who crawls out of the wood work?

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  • Skid May 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Amazing. I own a car as well as a bike, I should pay up twice according to this fool.

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  • Skid May 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Also, is he aware that children ride bikes as well? Should they have to pay up too?

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  • Chad May 27, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I'll consider paying a special bike tax, fee or whatever right after the mayor refunds the $6.22 transportation usage fee that I and every Hillsboro resident pay on our water bills. A fee, like those imposed on Portland water bills, that has been imposed without voter approval on a basic necessity of life.

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  • D. L. Grigsby May 28, 2011 at 1:36 am

    peejay
    Not to be pedantic, but you can't just subtract an equal amount (driver weight) from both the numerator and divisor of a ratio and have it come out equal. You saw that the ratio changed from 80:1 to 16.8:1 just by adding driver weight.
    But yes, we're in total agreement policywise: if the fee were proportional to the cost of use, it would hardly be worth collecting.

    Yes P.J. You are correct; I just didn't think it was important to make the point in this venue.

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  • mark kenseth May 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Bicyclists are saving money for government. Government should be paying bicyclists a percentage of the money saved in infrastructure expenditures and oil clean up costs. Oh, wait, there's already subsidies for oil/gas.

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  • 007 May 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

    It should be well known by now that our bloodthirsty consumption of meat is the number one cause of global warming. The production of meat releases more greenhouse gases than industry and transportation combined. This is merely one story:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-greenhouse-hamburger

    You can't be a meat-eating environmentalist.

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    • Psyfalcon May 29, 2011 at 3:35 am

      I'm waiting for someone to run the numbers on processing soybeans into veggie protein. People wont like those numbers either.

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  • MIke May 28, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Has anyone considered the amount of CO2 that is expelled from a cyclist huffing and puffing up the west hills? CO2 is CO2 folks.

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    • 9watts May 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Mike,

      Unless you ate a dinosaur for breakfast, CO2 is not CO2. It matters whether the CO2 in question was locked up, taken out of circulation, millions of years ago--when the average temperature on the planet was much much hotter--or whether it was taken out of circulation briefly in the form of photosynthesis last year or last week and is released again by your huffing and puffing. The latter does not contribute to climate change in so far as it is not introducing CO2 out of phase with the annual carbon cycle.

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    • D. L. Grigsby May 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

      Hmmm, I'm not sure humans are a source of CO2. Methane for sure, which is 25 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas! CO2 is a natural component of air, I think we only breath out what we breath in. N2O generated largely through agriculture is 298 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. So, i think whatever a person on a bicycle "huff and puffs" out is analogous to pissing in the ocean and trying to measure the difference in depth.
      I'm sure this can be researched rather easily, it sounds like a good thesis paper topic; get on it Mike!

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      • D. L. Grigsby May 29, 2011 at 11:43 am

        Concerning the amount of CO2 we exhale, here is a site that does a calculation and compares a cyclist with the emissions from a Prius. I think they should have used an "average" car to be more like reality. I can't vouch for the validity of the calculation, but thought it might be interesting for someone here.
        http://cozybeehive.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-much-co2-do-you-exhale-while.html

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        • 9watts May 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

          Again, this comparison is of the molecules of CO2. That isn't relevant because we don't by and large eat dinosaurs. Fossil carbon is causing climate change. Carbon from lettuce or oats or strawberry jam does so only very indirectly by the upstream fossil carbon that may have been used in fertilizer and for powering the tracktors, etc. But this isn't about the exhalations but about the life cycle assessment of the fossil fuel inputs into the foods we eat. For a good summary of this go here:
          http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/advocacy/bike_co2.htm

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        • Barbara May 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

          At least I'm not powered by a battery that is very dirty to produce and nobody even knows how to get dispose of them after their 5-year life-span.

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  • D.R. Miller May 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    How about a $500 voucher to every taxpayer toward the purchase of a U.S. built bicycle? Can you imagine?
    Ah, a boy can dream.

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    • El Biciclero May 31, 2011 at 9:30 am

      "Bikes for clunkers"

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  • kenny heggem May 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Curious. So....does Amsterdam have a road fee for totally bike specific infrastructure? Copenhagen? Paris, France? Does ANY truly bike oriented city for that matter? Let's find out why. Shall we? Why not speak to some planners and policy makers in those locations... locations with a MUCH higher mode share of cycling due to folks biking as a result of proper spending on safe cycling needs...WHY they do not try to suck money out of the cycling folks? Why are they creating an environment that influences people to want to ride a bike more?

    BIKE LANES, that is it/with the exception of some rare Euro inspired experiments here and there, that is the majority of our "bike roads", simply little stripes. Not anything even CLOSE to that level of bike infrastructure.

    Bike needs are extremely inexpensive compared to other road costs for vehicles. The pavement underneath the bikes does not even need to be the same level of strength/equalling less cost. Why bikes lanes? Why any bike... heck why do we have any money spent on pedestrian needs? Because of cars. That is why. When I drive I have a responsibility to protect other more vulnerable road users from my 2000 lb car. That is the right and civilized thing to do.

    Less people driving means less pollution, less money spent on gas but more on local businesses/not to a gas company outside our state, less money on maintaining spendy auto oriented infrastructure.
    Less stress on these car based needs.

    When people ride a bike they are keeping physically and mentally healthier... this leads to being a more productive worker, putting less stress on the cost of health care, and an all around happier populous.

    Why are we even bothering with trying to pull money from folks who in the end are contributing to a healthier society? I wonder if these reps even *think* before they speak?

    Instead of trying to tax people who already subsidize the hell out of cars, why are gas taxes... real, solid, $2-a-gallon-gas-taxes, not being discussed?

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    • D. L. Grigsby May 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

      All I can suggest is to follow this blog. Ton's of info about what you were just asking about. It's an awesome site and the reason I chose to take my MBA in Lund Sweden which is right across the bridge from Copenhagen and since Lund was once the possession od the Danes, their bicycle culture here evolved very much like the Danish cycle culture; though, the Danes are still in a league by themselves. I even attended a lecture in Portland given by Mikael Colville-Andersen. http://www.copenhagenize.com

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      • spare_wheel May 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

        danish cycling is overly regimented and rule bound. imo, the "anything goes" dutch approach to cycling is a far better fit for the USA.

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        • Dave May 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm

          Honestly, "regimented and rule-bound" sounds like the U.S. to a T. But I certainly like the "anything goes" Dutch approach better.

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        • Paul Johnson May 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm

          Given the haphazard nature of just getting around Portland, where pretty much everyone driving (motorized or not) completely ignores the rules anyway, I'm not sure the Dutch got it right on that level. Americans just lack a bit of common sense and completely lack the instinctual need for self-preservation that the Dutch have.

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          • Dave May 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm

            Well, the Dutch have carefully orchestrated their traffic so that "anything goes" behavior is usually not dangerous.

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          • Dave May 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm

            Including putting the responsibility on their citizens to think for themselves and be responsible for their actions.

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    • wsbob May 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

      I'm interested too, in how countries that are looked upon as models for bikes for transportation, fund their bike infrastructure. Differences though, between those countries...historically, geographically, demographically, and so on, are major, so meaningful comparisons that could be directly applied to improving infrastructure in the Portland Metro area are likely to be elusive.

      It's very difficult to retrofit areas already developed and built up for residential, commercial use, with a road exclusively for bikes and pedestrians, such as the Springwater Corridor trail in Portland. The Springwater is really only half as wide as a bike road for practical movement of large numbers of people by bike should be.

      If though, one example of this type of bike road existed for each general area of Portland: N-NE-E-NW-SW, etc, and for the Westside of Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, Aloha, Cedar Mills, Bethany, etc, that would be a considerable expansion of the areas infrastructure supporting transportation by bike. With that level of of bike specific 'cross-Metro area' infrastructure, for many typical trips, cyclists could get around quite well, more efficiently, and far more safely than on current routes on standard vehicle streets.

      Even though it would be quite an increase in the amount of infrastructure devoted to road motor vehicles would be restricted from using, the amount would still be miniscule compared to that having been built in the metro area over many decades past primarily for motor vehicle use.

      A network of this type of bike road would likely be a very substantial investment. How much (bean counters are better coming with ideas about that than am I.). Very important though, is how funding for such a network and it's ongoing maintenance could be satisfyingly accomplished. Many people that have to drive, seem to believe they're already paying their share of the cost of road infrastructure; the proof being clearly apparent to them each time they fill up the tank at the gas station.

      If their belief that they are, is mis-informed, a way that's a simple as the gas tax they pay, probably would need to be created to allow them to readily recognize how the burden for funding road infrastructure is truly being borne.

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  • Barbara May 29, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Maybe we should consider CO2-trade-offs for bicyclists and car drivers. You know how you can buy CO2-tradeoffs for flying. Maybe cars could start sponsoring bicyclists! Or cars could sponsor bikelanes.

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    • Paul Johnson May 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Never mind tradeoffs and offsets don't do anything except make the broker rich.

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  • are May 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

    do we want roads? are roads a public good? who benefits from having roads? who should pay? if these questions are a starting point, it would seem that the answer is that some basic system of roads benefits everyone and everyone should contribute, through whatever system of taxation we think treats people fairly with respect to their ability to contribute. let's suppose the income and property taxes roughly accomplish this, though of course arguments can be made that they do not.

    then the second layer of questions would have to do with whether we want to impose additional fees on people who place special burdens on the commons -- not just the roads, but the air everyone has to breathe, the water everyone has to drink, etc. seems reasonable. in fact, the threshold question probably ought to be whether we might want to forbid people to place certain burdens on the commons. at the very least, the additional fees ought to be sufficient to cover the costs of remediation.

    with respect to the private automobile, we are completely failing on this second layer. and we ought to not only ask ourselves why, but start thinking about how to change this going forward.

    assessing bicyclists some additional fee for some kind of facility that ought not to be necessary in the first place, but has been made (seemingly) necessary by our failure to implement sensible policies to control the encroachment of the private automobile on the commons is absurd on its face.

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    • wsbob May 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Roads are a necessity. For a long time, they've been a part of civilized existence. They're irrevocably bound up into the economies of the world. The particular capabilities of motor vehicles is what has brought road infrastructure to have the character and extent it has today.

      So called 'Ancient' Roman civilization, is often useful for making comparisons to today's civilization. Rome, back then, had a great deal of very complex, sophisticated, functionally effective technology. It had roads too, and very good ones. Vehicle speed though, being no faster than the speed a horse could run...10-20mph...meant that roads back then could be practically used by for travel by walking too, far more so than much of today's roads are practical for walking, or biking.

      Because of the capabilities of motor vehicles, superior in distance and speed possible, to any other previous land traveling vehicle in the history of human civilization, just within the last 150 years, probably more miles and square feet of roadway has been built, than has ever existed before.

      It's proving to be very difficult...maybe impossible, possibly impractical to sustain it. Does Oregon really need all the miles of motor vehicle usable asphalt or concrete roadway it currently has in usable condition? To have some kind of a decent life today or at some point in the future, do people of today's civilization really need to be traveling the daily, routine distances they do, at the mph they do?

      So it seems that first of all, the need may be for fewer roads, particularly those roads of four and six lane width extending to outlying areas of the state. In the metro area too, big roads of these types have revealed themselves to have produced some very bad developments and consequences. People have become used to having big, high mph roads, so they think they have to have them. A bit like building up a tolerance to poison. Then finally, the tolerance limit having been reached, additional doses begin the fatal decline.

      Modern high speed highways may be irrevocably bound to the economy of today's civilization. Could people in metro area Oregon today have a decent existence if for example, there were thirty percent less miles of high speed motor vehicle capable roadway than presently exists? How about half the miles? And if across suburban communities such as Gresham, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, to adjust for that reduction in high speed motor vehicle highway, there was a great expansion of roadway supporting travel by foot and by bike?

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      • Paul Johnson May 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm

        wsbob

        So it seems that first of all, the need may be for fewer roads, particularly those roads of four and six lane width extending to outlying areas of the state.

        Name one that isn't an Interstate that extends beyond a metro area, that isn't OR 22.

        Modern high speed highways may be irrevocably bound to the economy of today's civilization. Could people in metro area Oregon today have a decent existence if for example, there were thirty percent less miles of high speed motor vehicle capable roadway than presently exists?

        I don't think you have to worry about that, since removing freeways and expressways won't make the situation better, and there's no room to build more. A little history lesson since you sound newish to the area, Portlanders blocked freeway expansion like Tulsans and Inolans blocked nuclear power.

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        • wsbob May 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

          Not new to the area... just trying to put together a hypothetical question from memory rather than through the use of fact checking. The question I'm posing is still valid with a lower level of specificity than I included in the question.

          It's frequently heard that Oregon's budget for maintaining the amount of road infrastructure Oregon has across the state, is strapped. One way to allow that budget to meet the maintenance needs of the infrastructure, is to reduce the size of the infrastructure. In other words, can Oregonians have a decent existence with fewer miles of road than than the state currently has? Also, a reduction in the overall area of land required for roads?

          If more area of the roadway in typical road designs for Oregon were assigned to allowing the movement of more people by bike in an enjoyable, safe manner, would this help enable a reduction in overall miles of roadway, and area of land required for road, while still enabling Oregonians to have a decent existence in the state?

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          • Paul Johnson May 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm

            Eastern Oregon probably could, but western Oregon can't. Beaverton-Portland was the world's shortest air mail run prior to paved roads crossing the Tualatin Mountains, which were impassable due to mud and snow in the rainy season and our brief winters.

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  • tim May 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Washington County Cyclists and anyone who would like to speak directly to Mayor Willey about his comments,

    The Washington County Coordinating Committee (WCCC) is composed of the Mayors of all of the cities of Washington County, as well as the Wasshington County Director of Land Use and Transportation, Metro, among others.

    The WCCC meets every month at the Beaverton Library, their next meeting is June 6th, from Noon-1:30PM. The agenda is posted on Washinton County's website.

    The WCCC agenda has a public comment period.

    Though the meeting time is difficult, the chance to talk to policy makers makes it worth the effort.

    I hope to see many of you there.

    Tim

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  • RRRoubaix May 31, 2011 at 8:33 am

    "And I'm a bicyclist, so, you know, we all gotta help with this."
    Oh, I wish he'd have just phrased it like this; "I'm not prejudiced- some of my best friends are cyclists...!" lol

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  • El Biciclero May 31, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Maybe His Honor the Mayor needs to look at things from a different viewpoint:

    Don't think of it as adding 3' to the sides of the road for "bike paths" (he meant "bike lanes", I'm sure), think of it as adding 6 to 8 additional feet to the side of the road to move parked cars out of the way of actual road travelers. That way, increasing parking fees makes perfect sense because current parking fees, actually, quite frankly, don't cover the costs of loss of use of roadway space.

    Also, don't think of users of "bike paths" as "bicyclists", think of them as "people who are NOT DRIVING". If that doesn't work, think of them as "people who are not DESTROYING YOUR CITY".

    Cars make the world a noisy, smelly, dirty, dangerous, unhealthy, war-torn, broken-down, stressful, expensive place. How much should we extract from the "automobile group" to cover the cost of actual lives ruined and lost due to automobile overuse and misuse? Because, actually, quite frankly, $60 per year and $0.30 per gallon don't quite cut it.

    Here's the other thing: this meeting was held to discuss "Oregon's climate change policies", which have as a goal the reduction of GHGs. Let's think about who is in compliance with this goal and who isn't. Aren't those who use a bike to get around already helping to accomplish the goal? Are motorists who drive everywhere helping to accomplish the goal, or are they hindering progress toward the goal? Given the answers to the above questions, who should be charged increased fees and taxes? For whom should we make life a little easier, and for whom should we lay on a little inconvenience?

    One (or a government) does NOT encourage bicycling by charging a fee or tax to do it. A city might encourage bicycling by changing some traffic ordinances to allow greater freedom of movement for bicyclists. A city might encourage bicycling by installing something as simple as well-designed, well-placed bike racks for parking at popular destinations. A city might encourage bicycling by narrowing a lane of traffic enough to add a paint stripe designating a bike lane. A city might remove street parking along some selected stretches of narrow streets. Perhaps stricter enforcement of traffic laws such as speeding and failure to yield might help drivers realize that they need to be more careful, thereby encouraging others to feel safer on the streets without a car. Perhaps a city could use markings other than "bike lanes" to designate bike space on the roads--so-called "sharrows" come to mind. None of these options involves the expense of "adding three feet to each side of the road", yet they would all most likely have the desired effect of encouraging less overuse of cars.

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  • Andrew May 31, 2011 at 9:40 am
  • GlowBoy May 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    As to the property tax discussion above: property taxes are draconian here? That's news to me. Most people I know of (myself included) are paying just over 1% of their home's value each year. In other cities I've lived in over the past few decades, 1.5-2% was more typical. Yeah they keep going up as our property values are dropping, but only because Measure 5/50 limited taxes to below the normal rate of property inflation, and in most cases still haven't caught up with even our now-reduced assessments.

    I don't deny that my property taxes take a size bite out of my budget, but compared to other places they seem reasonable, and I recognize taxes are the price I pay for taking up space and using city services.

    I remember a Washington County-based acquaintance whining about their $8000 property tax bill a couple years ago. Then I saw their house -- worth nearly a million dollars at the time in Forest Heights. Their master suite was bigger than the condo my family and I were living in at the time. Considering I was paying $2500 in taxes on the little condo, $8000 for their palace seemed reasonable to me.

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  • Jmac May 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Using the mayor's ridiculous logic, maybe we should have a "side walk users tax" and people would have to put money into a machine at the cross walk signal in order to get across the street. All you pedestrian types need to pay your fair share!

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  • Pete May 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    There's nothing I hate worse than being labeled part of a "bike community." Most of my Oregon property taxes go to schools - more than in the other states I own property in - yet I've never been referred to as being part of a "child-less community" and no politician I know of has pointed to parents and said they should pay more for schools than those without children. Nor have I ever been accused of being a part of a "motoring community." This is rhetoric in its simplest form.

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    • Paul Johnson June 1, 2011 at 1:12 am

      If you're without children by choice, the word you're looking for is "child-free."

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      • Pete June 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

        I'll call myself "child-free" when I no longer have to pay for them... :-)

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        • Paul Johnson June 15, 2011 at 4:31 am

          That violates the definition. You need to have voluntarily not produced in the first place to call yourself child-free.

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          • Pete June 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

            According to wikipedia I am both childless and childfree, but semantics aside it's a joke.

            My point is I voluntarily didn't produce a child but our system forces me to involuntarily pay to send them to school, as it does car-free cyclists to pay for automotive infrastructure, and heck, all Americans to pay for bailing out corporations that are "too big to fail." Our system is clearly not pay-for-service, and even if it was asking bicyclists to pay for 'green measures' (Willey's context not mine) to lessen impact theoretically caused by automobiles and factories is back-asswards logic.

            If we use the Mayor's own logic, we should address shortcomings in school funding by categorizing parents as having their own "community" and making them "participate" (as if they don't already). I'd like to see him have the political balls to propose that!

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  • Harvey June 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I am a cyclist and I want my stuff for free, and I want car drivers to wait, because sharing means waiting. Sharing also means my neighbor needs to subsidize my bike path too. Even though he does not ride a bike.

    The city should PAY US to ride. Jeez, we are saving the world!

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    • Alan 1.0 June 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Are you taking a page from the automobile advocate's cue sheet?

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    • El Biciclero June 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Gosh, Harvey--that sounded a tiny bit sarcastic!

      Here's the thing: we have to consider two main ideas when it comes to what's "fair" and who has "paid". Not only do we need to consider what users of a system pay to create the system, we also have to look at what they extract from the system. Nobody will argue that car owners pay more than non-car-owners for roads. The thing about that is that most cyclists ARE car-owners as well--and even non-car-owners have a portion of their taxes diverted to support "car" infrastructure. That fact alone makes one wonder who is subsidizing whom. Even though car owners pay more than non-car-owners for roadway infrastructure, we also have to consider that they extract (read: use, wear out, and destroy) much more from the system than non-drivers. In fact, driving is so destructive, that even the amount drivers pay in motor-related taxes will never cover all the destruction that car overuse causes. Non-drivers, on the other hand, extract nearly zero from the system--weather is more destructive to roads and sidewalks than pedestrians or bicycles. So if we consider that motorists are actually under-paying for the system they use, why should only those that put negligible wear on the system be charged more?

      The second idea we need to consider is that it is generally a goal of Cities and other Governments (not "cyclists") to reduce traffic and congestion. We have virtually run out of room in urban areas to expand roadways to accommodate more auto traffic. The only alternative is to reduce the footprint of the traffic mix to fit onto existing roadways. That necessarily means fewer cars. It is not "cyclists" wanting things "for free" that raises the presumed "need" for so-called "bike infrastructure", it is the desire of Municipal and other Authorities to reduce auto traffic. If non-drivers are already helping government achieve its goals, why should the government then start charging those that are already helping? Shouldn't we charge more to those who are hindering the goal?

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      • Tacoma June 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm

        Tacoma thinks this post adds to the discussion. Thank you, El Biciclero, for your rational, insightful post. (And also to those other contributors who posted similar thoughts.) Well done.

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  • pfarthing6 June 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Paul Johnson
    Not a meter on my car, no. But there's another way to accomplish the same thing with less intrusion into privacy, and it works well. It's called PikePASS, and it works well.

    They have that in the Bay Area too on the bridges, as well as similar things for the Smart Park.

    It think it's a GREAT idea! Need to upgrade that road? Well the users of that road should pay, and this is one sure fire way to find out who they are.

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  • kenny heggem June 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    El, did you go to public schools?

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    • El Biciclero June 24, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Why do you ask? (If you're asking me).

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  • kenny heggem June 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    While I too am without children... I know that folks paid into taxes so that I could go to public school. So, it is the appropriate and the civilized manner of society to make sure we attend school and become a productive part of society.

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    • El Biciclero June 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      What does that have to do with the mayor's comments? Are you saying that since "society" paid for roads to drive on, it is our civic duty to drive cars so we can use what the government (taxpayers) have provided?

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  • kenny heggem June 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    it is fair to say many tax paying citizens want more equity for cyclists (that drive and do not drive alike), and to make the option more viable to non cyclists concerned with the lack of bicycle infrastructure to receive better roadways for biking. All I am saying is that a child is born and needs basic education. Do you think only children with parents that have the means to pay for education should receive it? I think those who do nto drive and ride a bike should still be able to do confidently and safely even though they do not drive.

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    • El Biciclero June 28, 2011 at 9:01 am

      Oh, well then we totally agree :) It may be you were responding to a comment by someone else. I've been saying that, just as education benefits everyone--even those without kids--so reduced traffic benefits those with and without cars. Regardless of who "pays" for any improvements to make biking easier, drivers will benefit as well as so-called "cyclists".

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