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Report reignites talk of bike excise tax – but advocates aren’t howling

Posted by on May 29th, 2013 at 4:44 pm

North Portland Bikeworks new location-11-10
Would you like tax with that? Maybe you would, actually.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s Portland City Club report that gave a big bear hug to biking also said buyers of new bikes should pay a special tax: 4 percent on each new bike purchase in Oregon, or $20 for a $500 bike.

The report recommended that the money — it’d be about $840,000 annually for the State of Oregon — go to programs that support and educate road users about bikes.

The city’s bicycle advocates aren’t exactly thrilled. But perhaps surprisingly, they aren’t gasping in horror, either.

“Generally speaking, the BTA is opposed to any new barrier between people and biking,” Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocacy director Gerik Kransky said today. “That being said, we’re open to the conversation. … It looks like their ideas about how to spend the money are pointed in the right direction.”

As close watchers of the local bike scene know, this nuance about a dedicated bike tax is nothing new. Back in 2010, we shared that bike-loving U.S. Rep. Earl Bluemenauer and Portland Bike Coordinator Roger Geller were both open to the concept, as was the BTA. Two years before that, we took a look at the Colorado Springs bike tax, which charges $4 for each adult-size bike and is quite popular in that bike-friendly city.

“$20 on a $500 bike is really not asking a lot to fund programs, like Safe Routes to School, that we feel are important.”
— Henry Leineweber, lead writer of City Club report

I asked Henry Leineweber, lead writer for the City Club’s thoughtful report, why the committee settled on recommending an excise tax.

“It was in our charge as a committee to look at and make funding recommendations,” said Leineweber, whose day job is covering the recycling industry as a journalist. “It would be irresponsible of us to say, ‘All these things are great, and someone else should pay for it.’”

Bike infrastructure, of course, saves taxpayers lots of money by reducing the need to expand auto infrastructure. But the $830,000 or so raised by this tax wouldn’t be enough to pay for much infrastructure anyway.

Instead, the City Club committee recommended that it go to bike education programs which currently depend on Congressional support.


“$20 on a $500 bike is really not asking a lot to fund programs, like Safe Routes to School, that we feel are important and need a dedicated source of funding that are not subject to political whims at the national level,” Leineweber said.

Kransky, the BTA’s advocate, said that his organization (which is partly funded by Safe Routes to School) might again endorse such a tax as long as it were part of a general conversation about smarter transportation funding — the sort that might charge everyone for the road, but would charge more for trips that cause either congestion or road damage.

“If you’re talking about raising money through a bike excise tax, then let’s have a full conversation about what a new transportation utility model would look like,” Kransky said. “What about a street maintenance fee? There’s lots of ideas out there.”

Phillip Ross, founder of Portland-based cargo bike builder Metrofiets, said Wednesday that although in general he’s happy to pay taxes, he worries that an Oregon tax on bikes would drive more people to order their bikes online from manufacturers abroad.

“There are so many hurdles in being cost-competitive in a market that is dominated by foreign manufacturers coming in,” Ross said. “At the end of the day, it’s still way cheaper to just get your bikes from China. … It’s not hurting our business that much, because we’re still able to be cost-competitive, albeit on the higher end, [but] people are price-conscious enough that that sort of thing can make a difference.”

Jesse Fairbank
River City Bicycles floor manager Jesse
Fairbank said a bike excise tax for education
would have both ups and downs.

Jesse Fairbank, floor manager at River City Bicycles, said he’d have mixed feelings about the proposal.

“Most of our customers who walk through the door, very very few of them are relying solely on a bicycle,” he said. “They’re paying money through other avenues. … Yet another tax on road users who aren’t putting wear and tear on the system is kind of a tough pill to swallow.”

But he said River City Bicycles, which is Portland’s largest single retail shop, strongly supports education and advocacy, too:

“If cycling can be improved in terms of the safety of it, if there’s better education, if people are more aware of other road users, if there’s more people out doing it — that’s more people coming in buying bikes.”

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  • METROFIETS May 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    What do folks think about this? My first impression – I would like to see a provision for domestically manufactured (USA BUILT) bikes exempted from this tax. Go figure – ;)

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) May 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks for the comment and email, Phillip! You make some great points, and I’ve added your perspective to the post above.

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    • GlowBoy May 29, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Hi Metrofiets – I’m pretty sure a tax that exempted USA-made bikes would run afoul of our trade treaties.

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  • younggods May 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I have a better idea… 4 percent on all new car purchases go to this program.

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    • ME 2 May 30, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Exactly my thought. The program we’re talking about is “Safe Routes to School” so shouldn’t the source of risk\danger be asked to pay to support this program as well? My kids are starting to walk\bike to school and have to cross 2 busy streets to get there and what worries me is that they’ll be run over by a motorist not by a cyclist.

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  • El Biciclero May 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    $20 on a $500 bike is the difference between a stock rear reflector and a decent tail light–or even an OK headlight. For the fiscally challenged, this could be seen as a safety hit.

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  • Yuri Nashun May 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Yes stick it to the users who have the least impact on our roads, air quality, and safety… Makes perfect sense.

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    • 9watts May 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      This is hilarious.
      The City Club report talks (at some length) about a bicycle excise tax passed in Colorado Springs in 1988.

      Under the pros of a bicycle excise tax they lead off with these two:

      * May help alter perception that bicyclists don’t pay their share of infrastructure costs
      * May enhance perception of bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation

      Well, this is more poppycock.
      As noted, bicyclists typically overpay transportation infrastructure costs, and ‘the perception that biking isn’t legitimate,’ well, I’m not sure why we even want to go there…

      I’ll note parenthetically that next to the four pros (including the two jokers above) the committee listed five cons associated with this sort of excise tax, none of which suffer from the contorted logic above. … but never mind that – let’s put a bicycle excise tax as our first recommendation.

      Cons
      * Potential deterrent to increasing bicycle use
      * Potentially decreases government funding by creating perception that bicycle infrastructure can/should be self financed
      * Potentially discriminatory
      * Administrative costs to small bicycle businesses and retail outlets
      * Singles out bicycle industry for a sales tax in a state with no sales tax

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      • Frank Selker May 30, 2013 at 12:05 am

        City club are simply people who choose to pay $190/yr to join a club and then prominently share their non-expert points of view. They should have no serious role in directing policy.

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        • PC May 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

          I don’t know that I necessarily agree. I DO agree that City Club dues are higher than they should be, though it’s worth noting that they have more affordable options for those under 30 and for full-time students. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a dues-paying civic organization in theory. And if the only worthwhile thing the City Club ever did in its 100-year history was playing a major role in creating Forest Park, they’d be worth having around for that reason alone.

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  • Allan L May 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    What is the geographic scope of this tax? If it is local, can it be avoided by going elsewhere or buying on line? Is that fair to local retailers? What is the mechanism for enforcement and collection? How much will that cost in a state with no sales tax? The last thing we need is another dumb, hastily designed, and fundamentally flawed tax.

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    • METROFIETS May 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      Hey Allan,

      As I read it – scope would be statewide. It seems to me that enforcement would be problematic for the state when dealing with internet based retailers in another state.

      Any thoughts?

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      • was carless May 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        It is currently against federal law to apply sales tax to online purchases.

        However, there is a bill in congress that would reverse that.

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        • jim kaufman May 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm

          Huh? There is no such law.

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        • Chris I May 30, 2013 at 6:42 am

          You legally have to pay sales tax if you live in a state that has sales tax, regardless of where in the U.S. you buy online. However, retailers typically collect this tax, and they are only required to do so if they have a physical presence in your state. So people get around this by buying from online retailers that are out of state. It is illegal tax avoidance, and the law in congress is attempting to fix this.

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          • are May 30, 2013 at 6:32 pm

            chris states the situation correctly

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      • aircooled June 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        Yeah, and Vancouver is right across the river. Would they have to charge the tax? Or could you flash your OR ID and not pay any sales tax?

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    • Mindful Cyclist May 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Yep, go across the river to Vancouver to a bike shop, show Oregon ID, no sales tax there or tax here.

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  • maxadders May 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Sounds like a great way to convince people to order bikes off the internet. Another win for companies like BikesDirect, another blow to local bike business. What a shame.

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  • dwainedibbly May 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    It’s a poorly thought out proposal that sounds good from a couple of superficial angles. It’s very much anti-small-business. I expected better from the City Club.

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    • 9watts May 29, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      From the report:
      “your committee was unable to procure any third-party data, beyond anecdotal observations, to support the perception that persons on bicycles violated traffic laws more frequently than motor vehicle operators. Your committee still recommends expanded safety education and enforcement for bicycle riders, however, since they are considered vulnerable road users and have a greater risk of injury from otherwise minor collisions.”

      => persons on bikes are statistically no more likely to violate traffic laws, but let’s expand enforcement for bicycle riders? Again, what is the logic here? Why are we chasing down these rabbit holes, reifying these punitive talking points, even as the committee admits they are baseless?

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  • Craig Beebe May 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Hi and thanks for the balanced report, Michael. I was on the research committee that produced this report, one of 12 volunteers who spent a whole year trying to get at every angle of bicycling and its role in a multimodal 21st-century city. I am also a person who rides almost every day to work, and often for recreation or errands too.

    I just want to remind folks here that this is one of many recommendations in the report, and one of several funding recommendations. Not that I think Michael unfairly gives the impression otherwise, but I urge you to read the full report before you come to a final conclusion about it and its implications for cycling and transportation generally in the city and state.

    I also want to remind you that City Club membership is fully open to anyone. It is a 501(c)(3) and your membership helps inform important conversations like this one. You also get a chance to vote on reports like this one. I know the membership is expensive for many–it is a big chunk from my own non-profit salary–but to me the opportunity to help shape this city we love is very much worth it. You can learn more here. http://pdxcityclub.org/join

    I also want to invite you to attend this week’s Friday Forum, for which bicycling will be the key topic, and our free public town hall next Wednesday evening. And if you are a member, or you become one before June 7, I hope you’ll vote on the report! Details on all the events and RSVP info are here. http://pdxcityclub.org/

    Thank you for your passion and your thoughts on the report.

    Craig

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    • 9watts May 30, 2013 at 7:49 am

      “I just want to remind folks here that this is one of many recommendations in the report”

      Craig,

      thanks for commenting here. I was very critical of City Club’s proposal a year ago here on bikeportland, and although I am relieved to see that the committee made lemonade out of most of those lemons, there are still aspects of the report’s tone, the way bicycling is framed and understood, that bother me in the report, that are perplexing.
      You say above that the the excise tax was just one of your funding recommendations. But you have to admit that it is the first on your list, and that several of the arguments the committee enumerates in support of an excise tax involve logic that I not only can’t follow but don’t pass the laugh test.
      Secondly, although it is fashionable to focus on funding, how to generate more of it that can be used for biking, this framing of the issue in my view misses entirely two things -
      (1) money spent currently ‘on biking’ is derivative, is only necessary or even meaningful because of the overwhelming presence of cars on our public streets, and
      (2) instead of *always* complaining that there isn’t enough money, listing ways to generate more; if we like biking and think more of it would be salutary then it is just as reasonable in my view to argue instead that we should spend less money across the board on our transportation infrastructure, since almost all of the money we do spend is of no benefit, and often a disbenefit, for those modes that are human powered, that have no climate costs associated with them, and that are associated with all those myriad benefits you enumerate in your report. Crying for more money elides the fact that we misspend the money we have, that our spending priorities are not aligned with a future turned on its head by climate change (something your report fails to mention even once).

      The goals you outline in your report, I would argue, would be more easily, more quickly, and certainly more cheaply met if we stopped all transportation infrastructure spending today. No more potholes patched, no more paint, no more freeway widening, no more CRC or Salem’s Third Bridge. Just stop it all. Just as in a disaster bikes come through, so too bikes would carry the day in that kind of a scenario.

      I am under no illusion that we would actually do this but I think it highlights the folly of focusing, predictably, on how we never have enough money, that making the pie higher we will finally solve these problems.

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    • DK May 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

      I’m already part of a club…It’s the “tax paying citizen with a ballot club”.

      I find your little “cityclub” a laughable collection of self-appointed blow-hards with a couple extra dollars to spend to gain an audience. Consider; if your ideas were any good, you’d be likely to attract listeners for free.

      Thanks, but no thanks.

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    • Yuri Nashun May 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      I’ve been putting off a new bike purchase thinking I could squeeze some more life out of my old ride…not anymore. Hitting some LBS this weekend.

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  • Chris Anderson May 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    The program they mention funding in the report with the tax is bike counters for the bridges and other bike routes. Until we get a bike share system where we can really track how people are riding around town anything we can do to measure actual biking is important. But bike counters seem to be controversial, so funding them like this would remove the controversy at least.

    The point about a safety hit is well taken.

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  • Eric in Seattle May 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    How much would it cost to administer this program?
    Also, I was under the impression that a sales tax was a third rail in Oregon.

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  • longgone May 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I am in alignment with others here that see this for what it is,…Dumb, with a capital D.

    On the other hand… it could do something like…
    …. Be used to promote travel to Oregon for our scenic bike ways…..
    …. combined with a provision for Saturday morning driving awareness classes and road side trash detail for all Oregon drivers convicted of infractions involving all vulnerable road users…. I don’t know…

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  • Help May 29, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    It’s a terrible idea unless its high enough to seriously subsidize separated infrastructure. Otherwise you might as well just throw money down a toilet.

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  • R-dat May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    If you’re going segregate one product to start charging sales tax, why not a 1% on auto purchases? Heck, charge 2%!

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  • Alex May 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    That means I start paying more in taxes than cars do for registration at around $4500. That means I am paying more in taxes on a nice bike than I am on a crappy car. This tax is ridiculous.

    Bicycles actually reduce the cost of gas (less demand), decrease congestion on roads and provide significant health and wellness benefits to the people using them. We should be promoting the use of bicycles and not punishing people for using them.

    Let’s quit subsidizing oil companies, raise the gas tax, start taxing studded tires, start taxing people based on vehicle weight/tire choice, etc…There are many options that make a ton more sense than this.

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    • dan May 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

      A big “hell yes” to taxing studded tires. Maybe there could be studded tire tags that you have to display on your plate if you’re using studs.

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  • Frank Selker May 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    My question is why pay attention to the City Club at all? They are not elected, they are not representative, they are not expert, and in the past they have not even been overly concerned with being accurate. They are self-appointed random people.

    And their positions vary with who happens to be on a committee. For example a former chair of one of their committees that suggested less cycling access said “Bikes have too much clout in city hall.”

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    • meh May 30, 2013 at 6:20 am

      Other than being elected why pay attention to city hall?

      They are not representative, they are not expert, and in the past they have not even been overly concerned with being accurate. They are random people.

      And their positions vary with who happens to be on a committee.

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  • Jeff May 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    What exactly is this paternalistic organization? I reject their authority.

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    • Frank Selker May 29, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      Precisely – in fact when delivering a report critical of city government they had the nerve to say they were “putting the city on their knee and giving it a spanking.” Does paying $190/year to join a club and network with other professionals give them any credibility at all? None. Just random citizens with a point of view.

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    • aircooled June 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      They are Sam Adams’ new mouthpiece

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  • 9watts May 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I am incredulous that this keeps coming up!

    The State of Oregon should enact a 4% excise tax on new shoe sales. Revenue generated by this program is to be used specifically for the production and distribution of walking safety materials, walking safety programs at schools and community centers, and the purchase and installation of additional automated walking counters.

    We’ve gone over this a bunch lately, but my takeaway is that this particular proposal of the City Club’s committee is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how our transport infrastructure is *currently* funded–namely that those who do not drive or pay gasoline taxes *currently* pay a disproportionate share of the costs of building and maintaining our roads. http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdfexcerpt in next post

    In light of this fact I fail to see the point of this sort of nonsense. We should be doing everything we can to encourage *more* human-powered movement and *less* by car. This suggestion fails that test and is, frankly, offensive because it reifies this timeworn misconception.

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    • 9watts May 29, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      excerpt from report linked to above:

      “Overall, local and regional governments are estimated to spend $300-500 annually per automobile in general taxes on local roads and traffic services, averaging more than 6¢ per mile driven on local roads (Litman 2009; SSTI 2011). Only 0.7¢ of this is paid through vehicle user charges, meaning that driving is subsidized through general taxes by about 5.6¢ per mile on local roads. Automobiles also impose other external costs, including parking subsidies, congestion and crash risk imposed on other road users, and environmental damages. Pedestrians and cyclists tend to impose lower costs than motor vehicles and bear an excessive share of motor vehicle external costs, particularly crash risk and pollution exposure. A shift from driving to bicycling and walking provides various savings and benefits, including benefits to motorist, including reduced traffic and parking congestion, reduced chauffeuring burdens, and reduced accident risk and pollution emissions.

      For an average household, the costs imposed approximately equals the costs they bear, but people who drive less than average and use non-motorized modes tend to overpay their share of costs, while those who drive more than average underpay. This indicates that non-drivers pay more than their share of transportation costs.

      The automobile industry has published studies which claim that motorists pay more than their share of costs (Dougher 1995; Spindler 1997), but they violate standard cost allocation principles by including all vehicle taxes rather than just special user charges, and by considering only highway expenditures, ignoring local roadway costs and other external costs associated with motor vehicle use. Virtually all studies that use appropriate analysis procedures conclude that motorists significantly underpay the costs they impose on society (FHWA 1997; ICLEI 2005; Litman 2012; Parry, Walls and Harrington 2007; van Essen, et al. 2007).” (emphasis mine)

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  • Sunny May 30, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Just buy the frame and wheels separate. No tax on parts.

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    • maxadders May 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Yet…

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  • Chris I May 30, 2013 at 7:00 am

    User-revenue for infrastructure spending has steadily decreased for the past few decades, while costs have gone up. For some reason, it has become political suicide for anyone to propose a new tax, particularly on gas or automobiles. We need to change this attitude, and events like the Skagit and Minneapolis bridge collapses can be the rallying cry. If we need a 4% tax on bikes to help us achieve significant increases in the gas tax and automobile sales taxes that will be used to fund infrastructure maintenance and earthquake readiness, then I will consider this a good thing.

    Alone, it is a terrible idea.

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  • Brad May 30, 2013 at 8:08 am

    We need a sales tax, period. There are a great many unfunded needs in this state and ALL should pay for those needs, not just cyclists paying for earmarked projects. Oregon needs a statewide tax system overhaul.

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    • Psyfalcon May 30, 2013 at 11:26 am

      States get the taxes they need, or the people will put up with either way. You won’t get a sales tax without lowering the income tax, so why bother adding a regressive tax method?

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  • Alexis May 30, 2013 at 8:18 am

    “”It would be irresponsible of us to say, ‘All these things are great, and someone else should pay for it.’”

    Actually, I think that would be very responsible. Taxes redistribute money, so that’s generally how they work. Tax Peter to pay Paul, instead of the other way around like we do now.

    This is the same stupid thinking that created the Arts Tax administrative nightmare.

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  • Chainwhipped May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Jeez. Where to begin . . .

    Most of us own cars and already pay the fees and gas taxes associated with those vehicles, but let’s put that aside for now.

    * Taxing a product that brings outside cash flow to the community is beyond foolish. There is no way our local bicycle industry will not feel the pinch of a tax like this one. One reason the bike business here does so well (and this is far, far bigger than anyone seems to realize) is that the $2,000 bike you’d buy here costs a couple hundred dollars extra in Washington. We have bike shops here that sometimes sell bikes at $5K-$10k to Seattle-ites. When that selling power shrinks, sales drop and when a business loses income, people get laid off. If you think bike industry employees aren’t contributing to your income, you’re very much mistaken.

    * When I ride my bike to work, I’m leaving an empty parking space for you. You’re welcome. I’m not going to pay you for the pleasure of doing you a favor.

    * The ruts you see in the road are not caused by bikes. No human on a bicycle can cause that level of damage to asphalt. If you need proof, look at the Springwater path.

    * Bike infrastructure is for the benefit of car drivers as much as the cyclists. When I’m stuck behind some clueless two-wheeler who has chosen to ride a few blocks down MLK, all I can think is how easy it would be to pass him if the on-street parking was a bike lane.

    * Why do we continue to put bicycles in a box separate from legitimate transportation? The issue is “Transportation Infrastructure”. Is there a shoe tax that pays for sidewalks?

    In case you missed the news, it turns out that Gas Taxes only pay for half of the nation’s roads: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/01/23/drivers-cover-just-51-percent-of-u-s-road-spending/

    So even if you never put your foot on a gas pedal your entire life, you’re paying for half the asphalt and yet you’re supposed to keep to the sidewalk, if you’re lucky enough to have one.

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    • longgone May 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Chainwhipped.. you bring some great points up here, and like 9watts, I am sick and tired of this old idea being brought up constantly.
      I am afraid it will never go away.

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  • Drew May 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

    When we drive, we require a substantial government subsidy per mile.
    When we walk or bike, this does not occur. We save the government money.
    The idea of slapping an excise tax on bikes is nuts.
    Until most drivers realize they are heavily subsidized, this nonsense will continue to circulate.
    The fossil fuel and automotive industries want motorists to think they “own the road”, and will fight any social construct that suggests otherwise.

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  • Buck May 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

    And of course a sales tax costs money to administrate, is unfairly burdensome for one small sector of the retail industry, will drive sales away from brick & mortar stores, and is effectively a penalty for the small minority of people who are actually doing something to cut down on producing CO2 in their personal lives…

    Instead of burdening cyclists with another tax while continuing to subsidize the oil & gas industry, how about we get subsidized for a change? I’m thinking $0.10/mile would be a good place to start. Tires, brake pads, chains aren’t free, you know.

    (I’m being facetious)

    Other than that, excellent work Portland City Club for figuring out that cycling is a good thing.

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  • Neil C May 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Since the tax is to educate road users about bikes, by that I think the text above means Car/Truck drivers, shouldn’t they be the ones paying 4% Tax on their motor vehicles?

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  • Brian E May 30, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Bike shops are already paying a tax that goes to building and maintaining roads. It’s called “Federal Tax” and “State Tax”. Then their are all the state and local fee’s that seem like taxes to me, but technically and semantically aren’t taxes .

    When you purchase a new bike at a shop you are indirectly paying those taxes and fee’s.

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  • Scott Bricker May 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Want to poll the feasibility of this tax? Talk to the Fred Meyer and Walmart lobbyists, where (back in 2006) ~75% of bike volume is sold (although value wise it’s only about 25%).

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  • Mabsf May 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I think it’s a bad idea because it sets a precedence. Once in place, who says it can’t be jagged up? The other thing that makes me still bristle is that cars can be deducted as “green vehicles”, miles for work traveled etc. We have none of that for bikes… so I would feel double taxed!
    As a small bike business owner I also have to say that $20.00 makes a difference: New bike riders some times have a hard time to pay $500.00 for a ‘toy’ so additional costs will put them off!

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  • are May 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    a tax calculated as a percentage of the sale price is a sales tax, not an excise. an excise would be per transaction.

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    • Michael Andersen May 31, 2013 at 8:09 am

      Thanks, are. My understanding (and Wikipedia’s, FWIW) is that an excise tax is different from a sales tax because it targets a specific type of good and is usually not listed separately in the price the customer sees.

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  • JOHN ALAN NAYLOR May 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    As a person that works in a bike shop at the end of the MAX line in Hillsboro, I can tell you that four or five out of every ten bicycles that are wrenched on are neither high-end nor even middle-end! They are the low-end, the Magnas and Pacifics, Fred-Meyers and Targets, piloted by the very segment of people that need cheap, affordable transportation the MOST.

    From where I stand, it seems as though this ‘bicycle committee’ thinks there are dollars to be tapped from somewhere (???) in an already hyper-competitive retail market.

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    • longgone May 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      Good insight for the 3 o’clock Martini set to hear, John. ;0

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    • are May 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      no doubt they have some data indicating how many higher end bikes are sold in oregon per year. frankly, you cannot get much of anything new at an actual bike shop for anywhere near five hundred. plenty on hand at wal*mart, but you get what you pay for. so again, who gets penalized is the locally owned bike shop. luckily, in portland itself there is a large market for rehabilitated used bikes, much of which is under five.

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      • longgone May 31, 2013 at 8:02 am

        The local bike shop owner knows he is no longer in competition with Wallymart or Freddie’s for those low end sales.They do however get ALL of the repairs for them. There in lies the difference.
        Having worked in cycling retail for years, I can attest to the fact that this is true.
        To your point about rehab-ed bikes,customers who are discouraged by sticker shock are often referred to CL or the CCC to explore those options. And in Portland, you are correct those options do exist in great number.
        I believe the greater point John Allen is trying to make is that the person with a truly marginal income will be taxed in a mildly surreptitious manner, when that money could be spent on a helmet , winkie blinkie light, or inner tubes.

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  • Dave May 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

    We get our yellow armbands when wepaythetax, ja?

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  • aircooled June 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Gas taxes don’t pay the true costs of maintaining roads and bridges. Motorists are also, to a large extent, getting a free ride.

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