BTA issues formal opposition to bike registration bill

Posted by on March 10th, 2009 at 11:09 am

“The costs of providing facilities to accommodate and encourage bicycling are minimal in comparison to the value derived by reducing the impacts of our present reliance on motor vehicles for transportation.”
— from the BTA’s statement

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) issued a press release today stating their formal opposition to a proposal that would require all bicycle owners in the state of Oregon (over the age of 18) to register their bicycles.

The proposal, (House Bill 3008, text here), was created by State Representative Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach). Krieger defended the bill in an interview I did with him on Friday.

During that interview, I asked how he thought bike advocacy groups would respond. Now we know. To find out where the BTA stands on this issue, read their full statement below (emphasis mine):

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance opposes bicycle registration and other annual fees on bicycle ownership because:

• The net revenue realized would not contribute significantly to the construction and maintenance of roads and the ancillary facilities necessary for complete streets,

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• The cost of registration would discourage bicycling – a clean, healthy and sustainable transportation alternative, and

Bicyclists already pay more than their share of road costs through other taxes.

Past efforts to require bicycle registration and the experience of other communities have demonstrated that the net proceeds, after deducting the administrative costs, of bicycle registration programs are minimal. Discussions of these proposals during prior legislative sessions have demonstrated that bicycle registration is not a viable method for funding transportation facilities. Most other states and communities with registration programs have discontinued them for this reason.

Bicycling provides a clean, healthy and sustainable alternative mode of transportation. The costs of providing facilities to accommodate and encourage bicycling are minimal in comparison to the value derived by reducing the impacts of our present reliance on motor vehicles for transportation. Rather than discouraging bicycling by requiring cyclists to pay even more of the costs imposed by motor vehicle operation, policy makers should be exploring ways to make bicycling safer, more convenient, and accessible for all citizens.

Many proponents of bicycle registration hold the erroneous perception that motor vehicle operators pay the costs of their use of the transportation system through gas taxes and that bicyclists do not pay their fair share of road construction and maintenance costs. In fact, the gas taxes paid by motorists are not sufficient to pay these costs. Property taxes and a variety of other fees that are levied without respect to the mode of transportation used by the taxpayer provide the balance of the road construction and maintenance funds. Bicyclists actually contribute more through these fees than the costs attributable to their use of the transportation system.

Reaction to Krieger’s bill has been very negative, and the criticisms are coming from both sides of the aisle. The Oregonian’s “just right of center” opinion columnist Elizabeth Hovde wrote a piece yesterday titled, Cyclists already contribute their fair share.

To see how a local television station has covered this story, check out the report just published by KGW-TV (Portland’s NBC affiliate).

Opposing this bill was a must for the BTA. When Krieger mentioned the bill to BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde last week (Rohde hadn’t seen the bill yet), Krieger told me that Rohde “did not think it was totally unreasonable.”

Rohde has made it clear that he has a productive, working relationship with Krieger and in comments made on this site, Rohde has said that he expects Krieger to support the BTA’s push for a vehicular homicide bill this session. Even so, I would love to be in the room when Krieger and Rohde next meet.

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Hollie Teal
Guest

Outstanding.

Paul Tay
Guest

Yep. Da gov should be paying ME for their share of carbon-offsets.

Jason
Guest
Jason

SWEET!

Tom
Guest

This whole bicycle registration idea sounds like the USFS’ fee demo program put in place in 1996. A big fat FAIL WHALE. The GAO slammed it as being grossly inefficient and financially unsound in two separate reports. Unfortunately it’s still around in some form 🙁 even after many attempts to get rid of it. It was supposed to expire long ago but the deadline was extended many times.

This bicycle registration bill MUST be defeated or I suspect it’ll end up setting precedent and next thing you know 13 years from now we’ll all be paying bicycle registration fees. Stop it now!

John Lascurettes
Guest

Thank you, BTA. Well put.

Zaphod
Guest

Thank you BTA, this is why I’m a member.

buglas
Guest
buglas

In the next-to-the-last paragraph, the word “alternative” kind of hits an off note for me. It suggests that something else is preferred. For me and many others, bicycling is a mode of transportation, first choice and alternative to nothing.

With that said, thank you BTA for extending your umbrella over this topic and giving us one unified voice.

Vance
Guest

I don’t like their letter, but I am stoked to see them opposing this outright! For that, I offer my thanks to the BTA.

I don’t like the alternative mode speech either, buglas. Also, “Relatively”, HEALTHIER, and, “Relatively”, MORE SUSTAINABLE too please. After-all, death, a decidedly un-healthy state, is more likely while operating a bicycle. Never mind the hemorrhoids, kidney problems, and abuse of the knees. Plus, bikes are just MORE sustainable than cars. Still takes the ugly plundering of natural resources to produce them.

Wait, now I sound like a Ludite. Horse and boots for every one!

OnTheRoad
Guest
OnTheRoad

Even The Oregonian’s conservative columnist says bike registration is a bad idea.

http://www.oregonlive.com/hovde/index.ssf/2009/03/cyclists_already_contribute_th.html

ean
Guest
ean

I would be for putting liscence plates on bikes so that they can be better held accountable when they break the law or buzz by pedestrians in cross-walks but there is really no point to the registration proposed above.

Dave
Guest

Way to go BTA for a good, concise account of why the “bicyclists don’t pay for roads” argument is ridiculous, and why an idea like this would never work.

Scott E
Guest
Scott E

For those more academically inclined, here is a link to a study to a UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies entitled “How large are tax subsidies to motor-vehicle users in the US?”

http://pubs.its.ucdavis.edu/publication_detail.php?id=1170

In short, they estimate you would have to tax an additional 10-30 cents per gallon for the gas taxes (~$16-$64 billion a year) to account for their full share of road costs (of course, ignoring all the societal/environmental costs ).

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

What this bill does is propose a statewide tax. While the larger cities have ever increasing numbers of cyclists who probably would advocate for directing that money to local facilities, it simply would be another fee or tax imposed on rural cyclists with absolutely no benefit.

I also question whether it would actually raise any revenue,or simply be eaten up in administrative costs. Who would be the licensing agents? Would we have to go to DMV…or create a new entity, the Dept of UNMOTORIZED vehicles?
Or would bike shops be required to do the licensing?

Once a can of worms is opened, it usually requires a larger can to capture them.

BTA is right on opposing this. Its part of their mission. Every Libertarian Republican and Democrat should also, as it vioates basic principles in all three parties.

MikeOnBike
Guest
MikeOnBike

It’s hard enough to read a license plate on an offending car. Reading the sticker/plate on a bike will be almost impossible unless it crashes at the scene but for many other reasons this is just a dumb idea.

Me thinks it tis a troll. What do they (Krieger) really want? Thanks BTA!

beth h
Guest

Although I am glad that the BTA has responded in oppostion to this legislation — in light of public opinion they really couldn’t do otherwise — I too am troubled by the description of bicycles as “alternative” transportation. My bicycle is not an “alternative”. It is my primary mode of transport.

I remain on the fence about my relationship with the BTA. Now that they’ve responded to the bike registration proposal with clarity, let’s see them tackle the CRC bridge issue with a less tepid response than the one already offered.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

I have not renewed my BTA membership since they advocated taxation of cycles a few months ago. Now that they have come out against registration and taxation, I’ll reconsider my membership.

steve
Guest
steve

Yay, the BTA agrees with the consensus. Big shocker.

GO CRC!!

12 lanes for Scotty Bricker, the BTA, and me!

Pete
Guest
Pete

Wow. That KGW article is pathetically biased! And you people thought the Oregonian was bad… 😉

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I can see it now. If this insane proposal were to pass. Our tourism banners would read…

Oregon,
Where you better be able to prove that you’re from out of state if you ride a bike.

Amos
Guest
Amos

Steve, sarcasm does not translate well in print. What is the connection between the BTA and CRC?

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

so, as its presented here….Krieger and Rohde have a deal about a vehicular homocide bill…

so…effectively…we have to pay up if we want drivers to be held accountable for killing us?

that’s beautiful…just beautiful.

q`Ztal
Guest
q`Ztal

10#
Plates won’t work: the gov supplied lowest bidder alloy will break and fall off far too easily. They did when I was a pre-teen trouble maker in San Diego. The complaint when I did have a plate was that, due to compromise with cycling community, the plate was too small to read from automotive distances.
The only thing that will work is facial recognition cameras on the traffic lights. This will have the added benefit of discouraging the waste of court time by perjurious drivers who ran the red light.

12#
As our federal, state and local governments discover a lack of funds from all directions perhaps now is the time for the government, at all levels, to show just how much money is being sunk in to our road system and where it comes from.
The CRC for example. This is a Federal project that just happens to be local. It is not strictly needed for local traffic; this is an Interstate bridge and supports interstate commerce. Just how much money is supporting a commercial transport mode that by all accounts is 3 to 4 times less fuel efficient then then trains? All of us support the public road machine through taxes that come from every angle, including fuel taxes. When the average car driving citizen realizes that their taxes are subsidizing the trucking industry’s continual damage to the public road system they just may demand a larger fuel tax, which will be made obsolete by the transition to bio-fuels and eventually electricity, they might just get behind a weight-per-axle toll on all major roads.
I, as a cycling commuter, will be more than happy to pay a road use tax based on weight-per-axle, ie actual damage caused, won’t pay a punitive registration fee.

Grimm
Guest
Grimm

Jeez. Well there goes my future business of making counterfeit bicycle license plates to beat the system…

Vance
Guest

Amos #18, are you seriously trying to assert there is no connection between the BTA and the CRC? Never mind the other comments above ours, have you looked at their website?

I’m not trying to be mean, I swear, because I’ve asked myself that same question. “What does a bicycle advocacy group have to do with a motorist bridge on an interstate freeway?” The number of motorist lanes on this project effects cyclists – zero. Now, if the BTA were only trying to add cycling infrastructure… Alas, they are piggy-backing elitist, environmentally-one-sided (Ya, I just made that up.), ideals onto the cycling agenda. The only reasons to oppose a 12 lane CRC have absolutely nothing to do with cycling at all; and contention has arisen around life-quality, and environmental concerns that are a separate issue.

Way off topic. Sorry. I’m just with steve #16 on this one Amos. Bricker is a poor bicycle advocate. Bricker is personally off-putting, and alienating people within the cycling community, in droves. The BTA is a Green Group, Affirmative Action Group, Liberal Political Group, and a host of other things. How they get any bicycle advocacy done is beyond me. Wait, the only thing the BTA has done is support policy that RESTRICTS access to the public right of way for cyclists. (Bike Lanes, Bike Boulevards, Bike Boxes, etc.)

I only bring THIS up because the BTA is NOT good for cycling in Oregon. The BTA is good for the BTA, and every one else is treated as an enemy. The BTA are chaining cycling to the Green movement, which is going to be disastrous for cycling.

This bill is barely even legal the way it’s written. This bill ain’t gonna need any serious opposition. What we need better advocacy groups for (Better than Bricker and the BTA, that is.) is to trounce garbage like this in it’s infancy so as not to come up on a ballot. Where is the outrage in the BTA’s Formal Opposition?

revphil
Guest

“gas taxes paid by motorists are not sufficient to pay for our roads. Property taxes and a variety of other fees that are levied without respect to the mode of transportation used by the taxpayer provide the balance of the road construction and maintenance funds. Bicyclists actually contribute more through these fees than the costs attributable to their use of the transportation system.”

bears repeating.

Bikers pay more than their fair share.

a 6-pack to the 1st person with a sticker saying: “Subsidize a car, ride a bike”

Grimm
Guest
Grimm

🙂

Oh and thanks BTA for taking the stance the best represents what everyone has been saying and clamoring about. The bill just doesn’t make sense, and we all know it.

Rayle
Guest
Rayle

The BTA position is correct, but they are, as usual, laggard at the PR side. Maus reported the bill on the 6th. All the local stations and papers (and many national news outlets) covered the story in the next day or two. BTA didn’t get around to issuing a statement until the 10th, completely missing the critical initial news cycle. Do you think that the news people are going to run the BTA position as their leads now? In this sort of game you must respond immediately to get your story in the same news cycle as your opponent’s. Maus, a one man band with many balls to juggle, is far more responsive and effective with time critical stories than the BTA, which has a full time lobbyist. The BTA should be less concerned about offending and more concerned with being timely and effective.

Bryan Dorr
Guest
Bryan Dorr

Please tell me where it makes sense to charge $54 to register a human-powered bicycle (which $18 goes to the private vendor of the registration), while it costs $30 to register a gas-powered motorcycle in the state of Oregon for two years?

Amos
Guest
Amos

Vance, thanks for the info, I actually was curious about the connection. I’ll do some reading about this and who knows, maybe I will agree with you.

I do have to disagree about the overall impacts of Scott and the BTA, however. I know for a fact that some of the legislature he and the alliance have passed have made for safer, more responsible road use for all modes, especially cycling.

nature boy
Guest
nature boy

Licence plates on bikes? preposterous. Good luck to the government trying to run down all the cyclists in this town to enforce it. I can just envision the police stopping out of town cyclists left and right for not having a license. Such a law could put a serious damper on Oregon’s thriving bicycle road trip tourist industry. Would they have to buy a “out of state bike permit” at the border to prove that they weren’t a local? Would that be a federal crime?

fredlf
Guest
fredlf

I disagree with Vance (#24). The CRC has considerable implications for cyclists. The new levels of traffic enabled by the bridge will rapidly spill into NoPo neighborhoods, resulting in increased traffic loads on shared arterials like Williams/Vancouver. More traffic on the arterials, more traffic in the neighborhoods make for degraded conditions for cyclists and peds. That’s why I oppose the bridge both as a cyclist and as resident of Northeast PDX.

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

Beth H (#15), I have always enjoyed your contributions. Now that your thoughts mirror my own, you seem even smarter 😉 Jokes aside, your comment hits the nail on the head.

If this had been brought up as a discussion item, I believe I would have listened to Krieger’s argument, but this was brought up as an action item. There is a huge difference.

The BTA needs to have some hard parts. A few points where they will never compromise and accept all challengers to that position. Being opposed to the taxation or registration of self-propelled users of public space should be a fundamental principle. The appearance of even pondering such a ridiculous position gives me pause.

steve
Guest
steve

What should give one greater pause, Coyote, is the BTA’s support of a 12 lane bridge to Vancouver.

Vance
Guest

Amos #28 – Hey thanks, I was worried I was coming across wrong. Our opinions of Mr. Bricker likely reflect the circles we run in, more than anything. Plus, I view some of the safety features you cite as carrying the side-effect of limiting access. Another argument.

Trust me on this: Any one in this thread, or who has witnessed my comments before, know that I’m pretty nuts. See: Take what I say with a grain of salt. However, I socialize with some very established, long-time residents, and political-soldiers here in town. These folks tolerate me because of earlier shared advocacy; and I’m here to tell you that there is TREMENDOUS resentment of Scott Bricker within this group. Specifically Bricker personally, and not just the BTA.

Vance
Guest

Here it is again. fredlf #30. I feel ya, and I swear I’m not trying to be a jerk, but you made two fairly unsupportable assertions as offerings of, “…considerable implications for cyclists.”. The bridge is not built yet, therefore speculation about traffic trends, should it be built, is simply that. Speculation.

I disagree with your proposed outcome. Theoretically, traffic volume isn’t projected to change, only congestion levels. Historically you have every reason to fear your scenario, but you aren’t entitled to avoid sacrificing for the greater good. The growth trend in Portland hurts each, and every one of us in any number of ways. If you would advocate leaving the I-5 crossing as-is, then you are also advocating inconveniencing thousands of commuters, and thousands of whole-salers, in order to protect your own personal lifestyle.

Your logic lends credence to my assertion that there wouldn’t be a problem if incentive were provided would-be Portland residents, to not move here. I’ve had to accommodate drastic, personally devastating, circumstances as a result of this expansion. Now it’s your turn, maybe?

Brian
Guest
Brian

Poor Mr Krieger. I shocked the BTA is opposed to this common sense bill. Hopefully the blow-hard wont be put off by this set back. I REALLY hopes he proceeds with his plans to require registration of all shoes, so jaywalkers can be stopped, and sidewalks can be funded by posers who use them.

Vance
Guest

Wow, .php might be sick folks. Did you see the way two of my comments got munched?

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

KGW will be covering the issue on its newscast tonight….

JR
Guest
JR

What a waste of time to have to devote energy to this negative issue. On the positive side, this display of anti-bicyclist behavior yet again points to the inequity between transportation modes experienced in this and other states. Bicycling has never been given its due respect for the benefits it brings to society, despite the fact that bicyclists already pay their fair share (not taking into account the positive externalities of bicycling).

Meanwhile, automobile drivers continue to take their toll on the rest of society by polluting our air with noise, GHGs, and toxic emissions, and solid/liquid pollution that runs off into our water bodies. Then there’s the loss of productivity that automobile-dependent behavior extolls on our society from car “accidents” – 40,000+ deaths per year resulting from car “accidents” in this country alone. Sorry for bringing some of the more obvious negative externalities of automobile driving up.. let’s focus our attention on bikes again and pretend they don’t pay their fair share because some people don’t like sharing public roads..

PDX Biker
Guest
PDX Biker

I am both the driver of a gas-powered automobile and a cyclist. I believe we need to find the most fair solution to all parties. Before weighing in either way on this bill, I’d want to understand the detailed economics behind the assertion that bicyclists already pay more than their share of road maintenance through property and other taxes. If a large number of cyclists are renters, for example, then that assertion doesn’t hold at least where the property tax component is concerned. Making such a broad-based assertion without detailed numbers makes it hard to work with.

Also, I would throw out another idea. Perhaps bike registration (similar to license plates) should be coupled with cyclists having to be licensed to ride (similar to a drivers license), so that you are now registering the vehicle and certifying the qualifications of the user. I’m not even so focused here on the revenue, as I am making sure cyclists obey rules of the road. When I started cycling, I always used hand signals to communicate if I had to turn, etc. and my cycling buddy said “don’t worry about it, no real biker signals”. That doesn’t seem right to me, because if an auto didn’t signal and turned in front of a cyclist, you know the cyclist community would come down hard on that driver especially if the cyclist was injured. So cyclists, just like auto drivers, should have to take a test and validate that they know how to safely maneuver their bike in traffic, just as auto drivers do.

Ultimately this is a healthy debate, and I just hope the cycling community doesn’t simply expect to get whatever they want at the expense of other modes of transportation, and to get that by branding any initiative which tries to find fair solutions as “anti-cycling”.

hairjordan
Guest
hairjordan

Avoiding taxes is something that former president Cheney and other unpatriotic republicans advocated.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I figured Krieger’s bill proposal would nose-dive. It was a crackpot idea, but from his vantage point, look at all the attention he’s received through the submission of his idea. By his effort, he might have gained valuable street cred from some conservative constituents.

So, he’ll probably be back with more ideas like this. His bill proposal wasn’t written totally bad. In terms of practicality, it just had some big gaping holes.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

I will offer a somewhat opposing view that will probably cause me some grief. I actually think a point of sale tax on something like tires or even bicycles would be a good idea. If it was only used for something like sweeping lanes or for other infrastructure we could and would benefit from this. I don’t try to make a statement when I ride to work but the “tax the bicycles” people ARE trying to make a statement! We would shut them up by paying a small sales tax on bicycle products and get some benefit in return!

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

I’m not opposed to raising more revenue to build and repair infrastructure.

I am opposed to any attempt to raise revenue with the false argument that cyclists don’t pay their way, and I am opposed to measures intended to be punitive towards cyclists and cycling. We already provide positive externalities, and we already pay for the negative externalities of motor vehicles. People like Sen. Krieger have it backwards–we subsidize driving, not the other way around. Sen. Krieger says if it weren’t for bikes, we wouldn’t need bike lanes; well,the fact is, if it weren’t for cars, we wouldn’t need bike lanes.

So, if we need to raise more revenue, let’s at least do it on an honest basis, beginning with dispensing with the false argument that cyclists don’t pay their way. And let’s also be honest, and allocate the revenue burden where it properly belongs. That would mean that if cyclists have to pay their “fair share,” motorists should also pay their fair share. If they damage the roads more than we do, the revenue burden they shoulder should reflect that. If they use more of the road space than we do, the revenue burden they shoulder should reflect that (or, alternately, we should have full access to all of the road space). If motorists cause more air and water pollution, more carbon emissions, and more impact on the health care system, the revenue burden they shoulder should reflect that.

So if revenues are insufficient, then fine, tax me, but tax me fairly, and tax motorists fairly too, by taxing each of us in proportion to our impacts.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

Steve #33 – more cointelpro?! Please site.

amanda
Guest
amanda

I’m happy the BTA is opposing this. I don’t think criminalizing bikers is the right move. Just the other day I saw this old guy on a bike balancing some groceries. I’m thinking, that guy has to pay $54 for the privilege? No thanks.

Hart
Guest
Hart

Cyclists should get to write off all cycling expenses on their taxes for the money they don’t take out of health services and for preventing the destruction of roads, air, and for reducing traffic congestion.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

Rixtir & others, it is not a matter of cyclists paying their fair share! I know we do and you know we do but that is not the point! We are not the majority and I just think a small (lets say) 1% tax on bicycle products would shut up the anti-bike crowd that bring up these bills. This would be $10 a year on a $1000 dollar purchase. It would shut these people up. Being right is fine, we do pay our way, it is just that we are in the minority so why not claim the high road at little cost to ourselves and they can stop bitching! There are worthwhile projects like bike paths, bike boulevards, etc., that we need and alienating the public will not help us.

Hart
Guest
Hart

Being right is fine, we do pay our way, it is just that we are in the minority so why not claim the high road at little cost to ourselves and they can stop bitching!

Why? Because we’re already paying more than they are. Let them bitch. They’re only mourning the death of their dirty automobiles.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

old&slow, no disrespect, but I highly doubt any scheme such as you suggest would quell the complainers. A 1% tax would just be a foot in the door to periodically raise the tax and further discourage viability of cycling’s potential as a transportation alternative to motor vehicles.

It would help if I could cite some facts to back me up, but government encouragement of cycling as an alternative to motor vehicle use isn’t something politicians and bureaucrats dreamt up just to be nice to bike riders.

They got behind the idea because need for increased road capacity got out of hand, and compared to roads, big highways and complicated, heavy load capacity overpasses, teensy, weensy, little bike lanes….save….money…big…time by giving people a simpler, less expensive way to get where they need to go. This has been going on for decades…I’d guess since about mid 1970.

Even if they’ve heard this, or figured it out for themselves, people sometimes easily forget things in the face of change that doesn’t agree with what they’ve grown comfortable with, especially when someone like Rep Krieger comes around to serve them up some good ol’ rearguard conservative rhetoric.

Someday…someday, there might be a legitimate and justifiable call for bike owners to provide some infrastructure funding support directly associated with their bikes. There isn’t one yet. One day, there might be a practical way for bike riders to display a readable plate number on their bikes. There isn’t now, and I’m pretty sure Rep Krieger is well aware of the situation in both cases. As I said in the earlier post, I think Krieger is just using this topic to get attention. Seems to me, it’s been kind of a waste of everyone’s time except his…his too, really.