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Oregon State Rep defends registration idea: “Share the Road — Share the Load”

Posted by on March 12th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Oregon state Senator
Sal Esquivel

It has been interesting to follow the widespread discussion spurred by the proposal in the Oregon legislature that would establish a $54, mandatory bike registration fee in Oregon. Even though the bill is highly unlikely to pass, it has drawn the attention of advocates, the media, and citizens like few other issues I have covered.

Yesterday, a reader sent me over an email newsletter sent out by one of the sponsors of the bill — Representative Sal Esquivel, a Republican from Medford. In that email, Esquivel admits that the bill, “may never see the light of day”, but he also defends the idea on similar grounds as his fellow co-sponsor on the bill, Rep. Wayne Krieger (learn more about what he thinks of the bill in my interview with him last week).

Story continues below


“It may transform into a piece of legislation that helps keep bikers safe or improves riding circumstances for bikers that commute.”
— Rep. Esquivel

Esquivel writes that “the phone has been ringing and the emails are flying” and that the reaction his office has heard so far from “bicycle enthusiasts” is “the oh no you don’t. Don’t tax my recreation.” Esquivel understands that reaction but then goes on to write, “but Share the Road — Share the Load”.

“With the ever growing concern over income at the city and county level all avenues must be explored,” he writes.

Like Rep. Krieger, Esquivel seems to see this proposed law as being a positive thing for biking in Oregon. He writes:

“The bill – well it may never see the light of day. Then again, it may transform into a piece of legislation that helps keep bikers safe or improves riding circumstances for bikers that commute.”

“So hang in there with us,” Esquivel concludes in his e-newsletter, “change is happening!”

— For full coverage of this story, browse all our stories at the “bike registration bill” tag.

(Thanks to Evan Manvel for the heads up on this.)

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  • a.O March 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Pretty disturbing to see that people charged with overseeing the State’s budget don’t even understand how key transportation infrastructure is funded.

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  • ScottG March 12, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I get worried when I hear people confidently stating that a bill is unlikely to pass. Also, don’t discount the potential for an amendment or two to change the bill in such a way that more legislators find it appealing.

    There has been a lot of talk amongst ourselves about this – I just hope the same amount of energy will be used to talk to our legislators about it.

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  • Zaphod March 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Not another round of this double taxation business.

    It’s baseless and he might do his constituents a service by dropping this and focusing on something of actual value.

    Tax my feet when I go walking. This topic is exhausting

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  • John Lascurettes March 12, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    If find the following a bit disingenuous on Esquivel’s part:

    Esquivel writes that “the phone has been ringing and the emails are flying” and that the reaction his office has heard so far from “bicycle enthusiasts” is “the oh no you don’t. Don’t tax my recreation.”

    Bicycle enthusiasts don’t see it as recreation, but as transportation. That said, it shouldn’t be “share the road – share the load.” I offer some alterntives:

    “Share the road – that’s already paid for by everybody!”

    “Share the road – it’s broken by your load”

    “Share the road – because we all own it”

    PS: there’s an unclosed em or i on this page making everything in the comments and sidebar of this page italic.

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  • jj March 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Share the road? Happily.

    If I register my bike, I will be using the road. Drivers can line up behind my 10mph cargo bike.

    I’ll make a special point to go riding during morning rush hour on one-lane roads like Division and Alberta, and I’ll take the WHOLE lane.

    I pay for it? Yeahhh…I guess that means I own it, just as much as any car.

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  • KWW March 12, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Share the road, share the load?

    I have a car registration which entitles me to driving on the roads ’24-7′. When I ride my bike to work, it takes my car off the road 5 days a week.

    If we are going to charge for road access, I want my 5/7th’s back! That’s 5/7th’s less wear and tear.

    That goes for carbon offsets as well…

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  • Kt March 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “Share the road, share the load”?

    I already do, thanks.

    Will somebody PLEASE share with these elected officials the breakdown of the funds that pay for roads by tax type???

    It seems like these people have NO IDEA where the money comes from– or that it ALL comes from gas tax, and car registration!!!

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  • matt picio March 12, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I think he means “Share the road, bear the load” – as others have pointed out, the majority of cyclists pay MORE than their fair share, regardless of what metric you use to determine the fair amount to pay.

    Let’s see some transportation equity. Let’s see weight-based fees, fines and tariffs. Let’s see laws, rules and regulations which recognize the difference in environmental, medical, social and public safety impact between motorized and non-motorized transportation.

    In short, let’s see these legislators explain why we should pay more for what we already have a right to, and why those who can’t pay should be forced to give up what is theirs by right (i.e. the public roadway)

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  • Rob March 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I’ll happily pay the $54 registration on one condition — if my bicycle is going to be taxed just like any other vehicle, I want the same rights to the entire road as any other vehicle.

    I propose as new slogan for the esteemed Representative.

    Share the Whole Load – Share the Whole Road.

    There are some big-time implications here. First, I get to take the full lane at any time on any road, so we’d also have to rewrite the existing laws that require a bicycle user to stay as far right (or use the bike lane).

    I’d expect all Oregon police officers to immediately become fully certified and trained such that they are knowlegable in cycling-related law, and to start handing out hefty tickets to road users that violate the law or endanger cyclists.

    Share the Load cuts both ways. If I get to shoulder additional load, I expect the state to share the burden as well.

    It’s interesting that Reps. Kreiger and Esquivel have overlooked this part in their sloganeering. I’d love to hear more about what exactly the state plans to do for cyclists for the cost levied by the registrations. Do they have a real plan, or just a slogan?

    If such a fee is levied, there needs to be very real and very tangible benefits for cyclists beyond simple ‘road maintenance’ — it’s quite clear that anyone that is using this argument as the justification for the legislation has no concept of the issues that are really at stake.

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  • buglas March 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Ok. I went to Rep. Esquivel’s page and found the specific newsletter that was mentioned. Here’s his statement about what he and his co-sponsors are doing: “Their thought process on this is to begin a conversation about ways to pay for maintenance of and building of new bicycle paths and riding lanes in the future.”

    Talk about putting the cart before the horse! Is this how the process works? Think up a problem and draft a bill that doesn’t address it and then have the conversation? It looks like the research process is to float a trial balloon and then see what people tell them. I guess that’s how democracy works – majority rule and all that. It’s scary when people don’t have a handle on reality but think they do and our “leaders” don’t see any need to be better informed themselves.

    Then there is the attitude that cycling is only recreational rather than a primary transportation option. Do these guys really believe this is nothing but a luxury tax? Sheesh!

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  • Dave March 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I think the big thing that bothers me about this is that for a lot of people it’s not going to be taxing their recreation, it’s going to be taxing their means of getting around at all.

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  • lothar March 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Share the road; what a load.

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  • Tbird March 12, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Hmmm, I’ve stayed quiet on this subject publicly because mostly I agree with the idea/concept and I know I’ll get flamed for admitting it here. After some research recently I have to say that I am further convinced this is a good idea. I discovered recently that Geneva Switzerland is a great example of exactly how this works and works well. ALL privately owned bikes are required to pay not only a license fee of about 40CF but also to have liability insurance. Both are purchased at the Post Office and according to the article this has not reduced cycling at all, in fact Geneva has seen a huge uptick in cyclists and bike infrastructure over the last 10 years. The public perception is that cyclists are contributing to the infrastructure that is dedicated to them even though it takes far more funds to maintain and implement. I understand that this is not Switzerland and that the tax structures are different, but the salient point is PERCEPTION.
    We must win the battle of perception first. Even here in Portland it is still an important front, and one we must continue to press.

    I don’t have the link in front of me,as I’m at work right now, but I will post as soon as I find it.

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  • Jebus March 12, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    If this passes, not only am I only going to register my bike AFTER I have been caught twice, but also, only AFTER I have sold both my wife’s and my cars. I Since I will be paying for 3 bicycles, I won’t want to pay for those cars anymore. It will change the length of time it takes me to get to Laurelwood (the one by Gaston, not the one here in town) too, since riding my bike up Bald Peak will take me a little while.

    I will ride my bike in the center of the lane with two lights on the rear of my bike (one to illuminate my new shiny license plate) and two in the front (one to shine in peoples eyes when they leave their brights on).

    I will not go the speed limit because that is not the mandatory minimum speed on the road at that location.

    I will change my life insurance policy so that my wife will at least be taken care of when I am road raged…

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  • SkidMark March 12, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    What will all the homeless and dirt poor people do? How will they afford to register their bikes? Many people ride bicycles out of necessity because they can’t even afford public transit. This bill will essentially criminalize an entire group of people whose only crime is not having enough money. It’s disgusting. Bicycling must remain free, because for some it is the only way they can get around.

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  • Erik March 12, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Sharing the load….equally?

    Weight and size would have to be taken into consideration.

    How many square feet of roadway are designated primarily for car use? How many square feet of roadway are designated primarily for bike use?

    What a ridiculous idea all the way around.

    Road costs consist mainly of two things:
    Maintenance/repair and congession/expansion.

    Large trucks cause the vast majority of all damage to roads. Passanger cars cause the vast majority of congession. Bikes cause almost none of either. There are more than enough roads for all the biking that will ever take place in Portland. These roads would almost never need to be repaired except for cars/trucks.

    Registration fee based on vehical weight squared and miles driven to account for damage to roads.
    Rush-hour tolls (congession pricing) to account for busy roads.

    Road users should bear the full actual cost of their activities. Why is it that large trucks do not pay (full?) tax on the diesel they use? End the subsidization. If trucking goods around the country becomes too expensive, maybe we’ll think about building some more train tracks.

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  • ME 2 March 12, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    If our esteemed legislators are looking for ways to pay for maintenance why not take steps to ban or charge a user fee on the use of studded tires?

    There have been studies estimating that it would extend the life of the asphalt and save the state tens of millions of dollars.

    Apparently the Gov has looked into this as well, but as a way to improve vehicle fuel economy. This story says that measure is also unlikely to pass.

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  • Andrew Holtz March 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I just sent the following e-mail to Rep. Esquivel:

    Dear Rep. Esquivel,

    I would encourage you to study economic analyses of transportation funding. The attached article (online at )is just one of many that explain how motorists currently receive substantial subsidies from taxes on personal and corporate income, property, and other sources. The researchers who authored this article conclude that gas taxes would need to be raised by 11 to 37 cents a gallon before drivers started paying their own way.

    It is also important to note that this analysis looks only at direct transfers of tax money from other sources to subsidize drivers. It doesn’t include the other costs of motor vehicles. While we all need cars and trucks to make our modern lives work, we should recognize and deal with the substantial costs that motor vehicles put on us.

    For instance, earlier this week a major study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine concluded that ozone and particulates that come mostly from motor vehicles substantially increase deaths due to respiratory illnesses. One of the researchers was quoted by WebMD as saying, “As for governments, Jerrett says, they should take steps to reduce traffic congestion, perhaps by offering financial incentives to carpoolers, increasing high-occupancy lanes, encouraging the use of hybrid cars and maybe even by discouraging driving with higher gas taxes.”
    (See for the full article.)

    We have two cars… and of course pay all the associated taxes. We are already sharing the load. But I also try to commute by bicycle. When I take my bike instead of my car, I am reducing wear and tear not only on our roads, but also the lungs of my neighbors.

    I would encourage you to come take a look at the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland during rush hour. There is a strong and steady stream of bicycles. Indeed, the most recent city survey indicates that bicycles account for 20 percent of all vehicle traffic on the bridge. (The numbers for the Steel and Broadway Bridges are 15% and 14%.)

    Imagine that public policies, including taxes, further discouraged people from commuting by bicycle (remember almost all adult cyclists also own cars in Oregon)… the resulting increase in congestion would hurt everyone. Conversely, the next time you are stuck in traffic, imagine that 20% of the cars were transformed into bicycles. The traffic jam would vanish.

    The research on the subject indicates that every time a person leaves his or her car in the garage and instead hops on a bike, it actually saves taxpayers money, increases traffic flow… and improves the environment for everyone, not just the cyclist.

    I urge you to take a closer look at the costs and benefits of all transportation modes before reaching conclusions about how tax policy can be improved.

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  • Rob March 12, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    @ Andrew (#18)

    Well said!

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  • PdxMark March 12, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Andrew #18 >>>

    Nice letter. The reduction in car congestion is one of the clear benefits of folks riding bikes. You make that point quite well.

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  • Coyote March 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Nice to know there is no shortage of cretins in Salem. The bill should be be amended so that the state would pay bike owners $54 to register a bike if the owner chooses. If the bike owner wishes, he may defer his rebate to a bicycle improvement fund. In addition, the state should institute a $250 filing fee for motor vehicle accident reports.

    That would be much more equitable for all road users. It would provide an incentive to register bikes, discourage crashes, and more accurately represent the distribution of financial liability within the transportation system.

    Failing that, ditching the implausible notion of registering self-propelled transport, and raise motor-vehicle registration fees in proportion to vehicle weight would be acceptable. Let’s say a $0.50 per pound of GVW every two years. That should help Oregon budget issues and pay a higher portion of motor-vehicles use of our public spaces. (BTW, I have an SUV that would cost me $3K every two years under scheme, but I am totally for it.)

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  • PdxMark March 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Alternatively – “share the load” would really be best reflected by a weight/mile fee. Set a cost per weight per mile and we all pay at that same rate. Let’s talk, Rep. Krieger, and let’s hear why bicycles pay almost twice what motorcycles pay… just so we understand your rationale.

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  • colin March 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I don’t think this guy even knows what its like to sit in traffic.

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  • Brahman March 12, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    If fairness is being called for then it is time to redo the way roads are payed for, shift it away from property, and income tax and put it squarely on vehicle registration fees. A fair registration fee would take into account vehicle weight, miles traveled and which roadways are used (GPU device would be mandatory on vehicles). Little used roads would cost more per mile to travel on then highly used roads and would be built into a vehicle’s registration fee accordingly.

    It cost nearly the same amount of money to build a mile of road out in the boonies as it does in the suburbs, but the rural road is used by a lot less road users, so less users to pay gas taxes for those roads. I’m sure Urban road users are tired of subsidizing rural road users in areas like these legislators represent. Fairness would be much higher registration fees for people using rural roads then urban streets. The

    Cars and trucks cause a lot of death, injury and property destruction each year. The full cost of this should be built into vehicle registration. What fairness is it for a non-driver to have higher health care premiums to subsidize drivers?

    Instead of paying for roads the taxes on gas should be instead spent mitigating the effects of the pollution caused by its use, for instance the health cost needed for respiratory illness related to car smog.

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  • Dave March 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Maybe it’s possible that these legislators from rural Oregon are just legitimately unaware that a significant number of people in Oregon use bicycles as their daily means of transportation, not just as recreational sports.

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  • Stig March 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    The bill relies on uninformed supporters. Facts and sensible reasoning are a threat to these politicians. The commenters on local news sites were overwhelmingly in support of this bill.

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  • Paulo March 12, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    @Tbird #13:

    In Switzerland the bicycle liability insurance is only about $5 per year. In addition, they already have some decent and safe bicycle infrastructure. I don’t think there is a registration fee on top of the insurance, but I could be mistaken.

    So, $54 for a two year registration is the same cost as auto registration in Oregon. It only costs $30 for a motorcycle/moped and $27 for an electric or hybrid motorcycle. The same price for a $30 lb. non-motorized vehicle and a 5000 lb. vehicle is just wrong.

    If we break the fee down by weight:

    Cost per pound for the average vehicle weight of 4000 lb. @ $54 = $.0135

    Cost per pound for the average bicycle weight of 30 lb. (rough estimate by me) @$54 = $1.80

    Cars cost one penny per pound and bikes $1.80/lb.

    No thank you.

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  • peejay March 12, 2009 at 3:51 pm


    I get your point, but don’t start with the tax per mile idea again. It was silly when the governor proposed it; it’s silly now. While technically fairer than a gas tax (because the correlation of a vehicle’s road damage rate to its fuel consumption is fairly low), it requires a huge increase in infrastructure and expensive technology as well as a substantial decrease in personal privacy (GPS in every car sending data to the state?), and it does not reward any fuel efficiency savings that are not weight-related.

    All funding sources are approximations of the ideal cost apportionment. Let’s stick to the pretty good one we have now – gas tax – and just increase it (as well as change it to a tax on the price of the fuel, not the quantity). Simple tweaks like taxing or banning studded tires can be added as well.

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  • peejay March 12, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Oh, and about studded tires:

    The legislature has tried to do it before, as I recall, but it’s an idea that’s very unpopular in the Eastern half of the state. Here’s my (impractical) proposal for that: the state should divide itself into two independent transportation regions. All funding for the Western half will come from the residents of that half, and it gets to set its own laws about studded tires, and all funding for the Eastern half from its own residents. See how quickly the Eastern Oregon road system falls apart!

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  • RonC March 12, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    This whole tax and license bikes idea makes about as much sense as taxing hybrid car owners with a special tax, because they pay less gas tax than a gas-guzzling vehicle. While we are at it maybe we should give owners of gas-guzzlers a tax credit, to offset the extra gas tax burden that they bear. It’s just nonsense, plain and simple. If we want a cleaner environment with less congestion and less reliance on foreign oil, then we should structure our laws accordingly. Simple as that.

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  • bikeknight March 12, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    If what is needed is a bill that helps keep bikers safe or improves riding circumstances for bikers that commute, then write that bill. Don’t pretend that the bill that is currently written does that or “may” transform into that.

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  • Rixtir March 12, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Funny that Sen. Esquivel chose to use the word “load.” Accurate, too.

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  • PdxMark March 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm


    I agree about the issues with a straight miles-based tax, but my point was that everyone paying their “fair share” could arguably relate to vehicle weight AND miles traveled, not just a per vehicle tax rate. A weight and mile fee overcomes the disincentive to high mileage vehicles in the miles-only fee recently tested by Oregon.

    Privacy issues aside, if Krieger and his tag-alongs really, sincerely want everyone to pay for what they use and impose on the roads, the knee-jerk per-vehicle fee doesn’t adequately do that. It amounts to yet another subsidy for car drivers. Even the registration fee plus gas tax doesn’t do equity, because a $54 bike fee is too large compared to the miles/weight basis of what cars impose on the roads. How about a fee based on:

    (vehicle weight) x (fee rate) x (mileage)

    The we all pay for what we use…

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  • organic brian March 12, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    A 1995 study titled “Whose Roads?” by cycling advocate Todd Litman laid all this out in detail. The study estimated that automobile users pay an average of 2.3 cents per mile in user fees, including fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, while they actually impose 6.5 cents per mile in road service costs. Who pays the difference? It’s picked up by general taxes and property assessments. So while bicyclists pay an equal share of those taxes, they impose costs averaging only 0.2 cents per mile in road service costs.

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  • Joe March 12, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    The load hogs the road.. LOL

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  • Joe March 12, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    like car r coffins? haha

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  • Donna March 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    So has either Krieger or Esquivel shared with the press (or anyone else, for that matter) exactly how much of this $54 is supposed to go to road funding and how much of it will go to feed the DMV Bureaucracy Monster? Last I heard, the motor vehicle registration fees were pretty much eaten up by how much it costs to run the DMV.

    Maybe this isn’t so much about picking on cyclists as it is a government-sponsored jobs program? That would be very pinko-lefty-liberal of them, wouldn’t you say?

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  • rolinon March 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    If I have to buy a bike license at the same rate as I pay for a four wheeled vehicle, I want my money’s worth with a full sized “Share the Road” license plate and I will enjoy the full use of the road!
    Now that would be about as ridiculous as this ill-conceived bill.

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  • Just a Thought March 12, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    A $1/yr increase in vehicle registration, from $27 to $28/yr would generate nearly $5M annually. That’s enough to:
    *Re-pave the Springwater from Sellwood to Downtown
    *Build 15-miles of Bike Blvds
    *Lighting, Improvements and a Ped path added to I-205 path.
    …and have some change.

    I wouldn’t mind paying an extra $1 a year to register my vehicle, and yes I do own and license a vehicle in Oregon, if it meant better facilities for cyclists… 😉

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  • Jeff March 12, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I’m guessing they dislike cyclists because we occasionally get in the way of their giant SUVs.

    Forget that every cyclist is a potential driver and that by riding our bikes we are reducing traffic and wear on the road, saving the state buttloads of money in the long run, we bother old republicans who still haven’t accepted that the environment can be harmed (or don’t care).

    There are a lot of homeless cyclists in my neighborhood and they haul recycling on their bikes. Even a full load won’t give them much money. 54 dollars would be a pretty big chunk of what they make.

    I’m guessing these two idiots don’t care about that. This is just about their desire to get us off “their” roads.

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  • toddistic March 12, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Welcome back critical mass if this passes except now the cops won’t be able to do a damn thing about it!

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  • Jon Prettyman March 12, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    My take on the interview with the Senator reported about earlier is that the motives behind the bill are two-fold.

    1) Provide a mechanism to allow witness to a violation a mechanism to report on the violator using the license number to identify them.

    2) Provide an additional revenue stream to the DOT to help fund road improvements that benefit cyclists and not motorists.

    I can’t imagine any type of identifier that could be put on a bike that would provide an reliable identification system.

    As far as funding road improvements – what if we charged the DOT to set up a foundation for cycling road improvements. Establish it as a non-profit that would allow tax deductible donations. I’ve no doubt that our state is full of folks who would gladly contribute freely to a fund that by it’s very design was set up to support road projects that directly benefited cyclists.

    Given the estimates I’ve seen about what establishing the necessary beaurocracy to manage the licensing plan, it’s highly likely that a voluntarily funded system would provide more funds directly to the DOT.

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  • Allison March 13, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I don’t have a problem with the *concept* of bike registration, especially if the registration dollars went to bike-specific infrastructure (the way motor vehicle registration goes to fund the Department of *Motor* Vehicles) – let’s have it be the ratio of the median “footprint” of a bicycle in a lane to the median “footprint” of a passenger motor vehicle. Or the weight ratios. So, what, 5%? I’ll pay ya $2.50 every two years. Happily. Heck, I’ll pay you $5 every two years if you promise it’ll go to bicycle infrastructure.

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  • El Biciclero March 13, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Oregon State Rep defends registration idea: “Share the Road — Share the Load”

    “Defends”? I don’t see a rational defense of anything here. Coming up with a rhyming slogan doesn’t count as a logical argument.

    I have a slogan too: “Save the Road – Lighten the Load!”

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  • Brad March 13, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Oregon has a very lax registration law. You only pay every other year and it’s a set value regardless of vehicle value. Other more thoughtful states use a vehicle excise tax based upon the value and weight of the vehicle. If that were the case, I would be more than happy to register my many bicycles, that way, bicycles would not be paying more than motorcycles but would pay according to their cost and their weight.

    Figure out the calculus and write the bill. Revenues will go way up for the state because everyone will pay more, and cyclists will be able to buy into the system. This is what it means to have mode share, my friends.

    The key is to go along with it and then show what would be legally equitable. You might see all of those rabid conservatives turn tail at the smell of “excise tax” and then you would see the true motivations.

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  • Brad March 13, 2009 at 9:01 am

    After all “share the load” is kind of catchy and would help show that bikes weighing 30 lbs should pay in proportion to 600 lb motorcycles and 3000-105,500 lb motor vehicles.

    This bill really isn’t so bad; just change the numbers a little and get it passed. This might be a win for the bicycle community. You would have to change the name DMV to something else though because DMV only licenses motor vehicles.

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  • PdxMark March 13, 2009 at 10:36 am

    More thoughts on “sharing” the load:

    The Oregon gasoline tax is 43.4 cents/gallon. Let’s say the average car weighs 3000 pounds and travels 12,000 miles a year at 20 mpg. Each year the owner/user of that car contributes $27 for registration and $260 in gas taxes (600 gallons at 43.4 cents a gallon), for a total of $287.

    In contrast, the average bike weighs no more than 30 pounds and maybe travels 1000 miles on roads. The bikes weighs 1/100 as much as a car and is on the road for 1/12 the distance. Based on weight and road miles used, an equitable fee for this “average” bike should be 1/1200 the amount for the “average” car – or about 24 cents. The other $26.76 proposed by Krieger is simply a mix of car-subsidy and bike-use penalty.

    If Krieger & his friends want to argue some rational reason why bikes and cars are equivalent road users, I’d also like to hear the rational for why cars and heavy trucks aren’t also equivalent users. In contrast to the annual $287 fees paid for an “average” car, an “average” truck can pay $250-$500 a month in fees. The fee distinction between cars and trucks roughly correlates to the differences in their sizes and the miles they drive. Any bike registration/usage fee should do the same.

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  • Rich Wilson March 13, 2009 at 10:37 am

    While’re arguing that pedestrian traffic should be taxed, let’s not forget about wheelchairs. Especially the Electric ones 🙂

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  • PdxMark March 13, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Here’s the I forgot link for info on “average” truck fees:

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  • Rixtir March 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

    1) Provide a mechanism to allow witness to a violation a mechanism to report on the violator using the license number to identify them.

    I don’t doubt that’s what the supporters want to believe, but…

    So some motorist is sitting at a red light when a cyclists zips past and runs the light. NOW the irate motorist can report the cyclist to the police…because of a 1.5″ X 2.5″ license number attached to the seat tube of a rapidly receding bike?

    Good one.

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  • jeneraldisarray March 13, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I don’t object to bike registration or to fees that will fund bicycle infrastructure. However, I do object to proposals that smugly demand additional compensation from bicyclists for mysterious, poorly-defined “improvements” or routine maintenance.

    Ideally, I’d like House Representatives to spend time figuring out how Oregon’s transportation infrastructure can cost taxpayers LESS, not devise ways to extract more revenue from low-impact transportation activities such as bicycling.

    I just sent this email to my state House Rep. Mary Nolan. Short. Sweet. Willing to work for an acceptable alternative to this stupid bill. Copy and paste and send to your own Rep, please. Let them know that there are better ways to “Share the Road.”

    “Dear Representative Nolan,

    First of all, thank you for your service in the Oregon Legislature.

    As one of your constituents and as a fervent bicycle transportation advocate, I respectfully request that you do whatever is in your power to assure that House Bill 3008, which would establish a “bicycle registration and licensing system,” does not become law.

    This bill, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach), Rep. Sal Esquivel (R-Medford), Rep. Bill Garrard (R-Klamath Falls), and Rep. Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley), mandates a $54 biannual registration fee for bicycles, and is, in its essence, a punitive and excessive tax.

    This bill is a vindictive attempt to portray cyclists and bicycles in general as a undue burden upon Oregon’s transportation infrastructure. This could not be further from the truth. Transportation via bicycle is a healthful and economical alternative to automobiles, particularly in urban areas. Bicycles are a low-impact mode of transportation as compared to automobiles, which necessitate frequent and expensive highway construction and maintenance costs.

    A bicycle registration program, whether administered statewide or within municipal areas, is worth exploring and developing. House Bill 3008, however, is an unacceptable attempt to establish a meaningful, impact-appropriate registration program that will verifiably benefit cyclists and Oregonians in general.

    Again, please take whatever action is necessary to ensure that House Bill 3008 does not become law. I and many others within your district appreciate your attention to this matter and would be delighted to offer suggestions as to how a bicycle registration program could be made more acceptable and mutually beneficial to all Oregonians. “

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  • Hart March 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    If I’m forced to “share the load”, I’ll be taking up the entire lane where ever I go.

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  • jr. March 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    critical mass I-5 to salem if they pass this

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  • q`Ztal March 13, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Weight per mile: I like the high tech solution but implementation puts too much information into the hands of the lowest bidder. Besides, this problem has already been solved, even the charging out of state drivers part: toll roads. A quick visit to the New York State Thruway Authority shows a Toll & Distance Calculator. Vehicles of different weights are charged appropriately for the wear they cause on a distance of road.

    Registration Fees: As stupid and vindictive as this attempt to de-legitamize cyclists, who have been on America’s roads longer than infernal combustion engines and by all rights should have a superior common law right to the road (surpassed only by “Organic” road users: pedestrians, horses), as valid road users I will be more than willing to pay that fee if I am exempted from the property tax fee that I am paying now for sub-standard treatment on the roads. Or to put it more bluntly: NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION! We are being taxed and not receiving any benefits for said taxation. Part of the problem is the obscurity of the government tax process: taxes go in, magic happens, money goes where ever they decide. Taxes and fees are deemed much more “fair” when everyone can see they go directly to the service that

    Un-critical mass (needs better name) – large public announcement “Cyclists of Portland!!! On the day of (to be determined) don’t ride your bike! Drive you car everywhere you need to go. Drive under the speed limit. Our goal is to show just how much congestion we cyclists are removing from Portland’s roads”
    Perhaps a bit childish and petty but you can’t always reason with a bully; sometimes you have to inflict pain.

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  • Drew March 14, 2009 at 4:30 am

    I wonder if this is an attempt to polarize their constituents, so they can count on people who don’t like bikes to vote for them next time around. Get the anti-bike vote.

    Hopefully most voters will see thru this smoke and mirrors and hand them a decisive defeat.

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  • q`Ztal March 14, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I believe that politicians are some of the most under-handed scheming examples of Homo sapiens on the planet and this bill is a smoke screen to distract the cycling community from something nastier.

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  • Hart March 14, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I believe that politicians are some of the most under-handed scheming examples of Homo sapiens on the planet and this bill is a smoke screen to distract the cycling community from something nastier.

    Oh c’mon. Seriously? You’re gonna lump all politicians together in that lame apathetic way that libertarians do in order to excuse themselves for actually paying attention to or engaging in civil issues? I think we’re a little past that.

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  • middle of the road guy March 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Cyclists: “We want to be treated equally with motor vehicles.”

    Legislator: “Great! So you won’t mind registering your vehicle?”

    Cyclists: “We don’t want to be treated equally with motor vehicles.”

    BTW, Bikes do have an impact. Reductions in lane width slow the rest of the traffic down = more congestion. Pausing to let cyclists pass on the right = less motor vehicles able to turn. I do hope cyclists see the particular irony that they use a system that exists and is dependent on carbon consumption. Were it not for automobiles, there would not be a cycling infrastructure (sure, maybe in SimCity, but not in reality).

    I’m not against cyclists at all. I’ve got 20k in bikes myself. But as a former land use/transportation guy at the USEPA, I think every actor in a system tends to view it from their own frame of relativity and tries to justify their own actions and minimize their perceived impacts. And does the opposite with other users.

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  • q`Ztal March 15, 2009 at 7:58 am

    #57 Seriously? You’re gonna lump all politicians together in that lame apathetic way…?

    Um, Yep.
    When a simple bill regarding cyclists, or any “one issue” bill, gets whittled away to a shadow of its former usefulness and then gets rejected because some other politician put a rider on the bill allowing their buddy to dump dioxins in a drinking water source I’m gonna blame the politicians.
    Rather than debate and choose laws based their merit these politicians choose issue poisoning to assassinate a bill, thus insuring that something a minority hates becomes something everyone hates.
    So, yes I’m going to blame the politicians because, ultimately, they are the ones making the decision to not represent their constituents and do so in a dishonest way. As long as people are willing to accept corruption we won’t be “a little past that”.

    Considering the backlash that occurred when Rep. Wayne Krieger introduced this registration proposal and that there is NO WAY that his staff, and party, are unaware of the controversy we can expect that they will use this distraction to achieve some goal that would otherwise be difficult.

    The least dishonest way to look at this bike registration bill is as a very low bid: “here’s our offer on your 3500 Sqft house. $50”. When we look at their low ball suggestion and laugh and tell them that there is no way that is equitable or fair they counter with a compromise: “Ok, $100”. When we respond that they are trying to rob us they leave and take out advertisements saying “those bike nuts just won’t compromise”.

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  • Hart March 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Cyclists: “We want to be treated equally with motor vehicles.”
    Legislator: “Great! So you won’t mind registering your vehicle?”
    Cyclists: “We don’t want to be treated equally with motor vehicles.”

    I’ll register my bikes when we start registering guns. How ’bout that?

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  • SkidMark March 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I wouldn’t mind if it was a reasonable price and it was one time only like it is in other states. What they are proposing would make it cheaper to register a motorcycle or a moped. That right there makes the proposal absolutely ridiculous. That and the fact that it puts and unfair burden on those less financially fortunate, people who can’t even afford public transit, so they have to commute by bicycle. I think Senator Esquivel has this silly idea that most people who ride bikes are doing it as some sort of luxury, he isn’t taking into account that probably most cyclists in Oregon cities are cycling because they can’t afford anything else.

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  • Eileen March 15, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Where would that leave the casual fair-weather, weekend rider who MIGHT one day become a commuter but is now discouraged from riding? The homeless guy with a bike and a trailer? The unemployed guy who had to sell his car and has nothing but his bike to get to job interviews? What options are we leaving for the poor and disenfranchised when you turn them into criminals because they can’t afford bike registration?

    The biggest funny is that more bikes = LESS road damage. Bike trails are cheap and require minimal maintenance compared to roads.

    There are so many things wrong with this legislation…

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  • Oliver March 16, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I don’t want to be treated as an equal with motor vehicles, I think this is a common fallacy among the motoring public

    I want to be recognized as choosing a method of transport that doesn’t regularly kill other road users, people’s children and peoples beloved pets. A mode that doesn’t poison the environment, and that doesn’t start wars (barring the incessant idiotic flame wars on CL)

    I want to be treated as more worthy than cars because I’m choosing to put my life at risk in order to make your commute faster, your air cleaner your, gas cheaper, your children safer and your taxes lower. I want you to give me berth on the roads because inattention on your part can Kill me, whereas innatention my part has a very little chance of harming you in your truck.

    I don’t want you to give me equality, my access to the roadway is a right, unlike priveledge to drive.

    What I want is you to use your turn signals and cede right of way where due. I want you to exercise some of the responsiblity that goes with your driving priveledge. I want you to give me some respect for subsidizing your motorway. I want you to realize that narrowing the roads for bike lanes doesn’t clog the roads with cars, cars clog the road.

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  • El Biciclero March 17, 2009 at 4:10 pm


    “I do hope cyclists see the particular irony that they use a system that exists and is dependent on carbon consumption. Were it not for automobiles, there would not be a cycling infrastructure (sure, maybe in SimCity, but not in reality).”

    The real irony is that this is backwards. Paved roads were originally sought by cyclists so they wouldn’t have to slog through the mud like the horses did. When autos came along, drivers started using the paved roads as well, eventually pushing cyclists to the fringes of the roads they worked to get built. You like paved roads? thank the cyclists of the early 20th century…

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