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The latest on Oregon’s bike tax proposal from Street Trust policy director Gerik Kransky

Posted by on May 12th, 2017 at 11:33 am

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

What’s an advocacy group to do when they strongly oppose a policy idea, but are cognizant of the broader political context that surrounds it? It’s a complicated question that often has no easy answer.

The Bicycle Excise Tax

What we know so far:

  • 5% tax on new bicycle purchases.
  • Estimated to raise $2 million a year.
  • Funds would be earmarked for off-street “commuter” paths.
  • Would only apply to bicycles over $500 retail and with wheels 26-inches and larger.
  • Nothing has been formally decided yet.

This is the conundrum The Street Trust finds itself in with the transportation revenue package being drafted in Salem as I type this. In the first legislative session since changing their name from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in order to expand their mission to include walking and transit, the Portland-based nonprofit has already gotten an earful from members about a controversial bicycle excise tax that’s part of the $8 billion proposal. The idea so far (the bill language hasn’t been finalized) is to levy a 5 percent tax on the purchase of new bicycles to raise an estimated $2 million a year. The policy has emerged as a way to dispel the popular notion that “bicyclists don’t pay their fair share” and as a way to fund construction of “off-street” bicycle paths that can’t be funded with gas taxes (as per the state constitution).

Gerik Kransky is policy director at The Street Trust (he also represents Transportation for Oregon’s Future, a coalition that includes transit, environmental and land-use groups). He’s the only paid lobbyist for bicycling (and now walking and transit) who makes regular trips to Salem and he’s been especially active in hearings and meetings with lawmakers sinse the start of this session.

I interviewed Kransky yesterday to learn more about where The Street Trust stands on the bike tax and how it fits into the larger revenue package. I’ve edited some of his replies for readability.

How do you think we got to this point?

“This is an idea has come up in every legislative session over last seven years since I’ve been paying attention. It’s never gained a lot of traction because in the past it always felt punitive, an “us vs them” type of thing and it would always fizzle out in its first committee. But this year is different. It doesn’t seem to matter what party a legislator is in they’re all talking about this proposal. They’re trying to raise a lot of money. And at last night’s hearing, [Senator Brian] Boquist was describing a process to reach some level of partiy among road users to get everyone paying more. This [the bike tax] is just a part of that.”

Does The Street Trust support the bike tax?

“We don’t have a bill yet. So it’s hard to say what we’re looking at. We’re still waiting to see the bill language before we take a formal position. That being said, we’ve already done a couple things with legislators over the past few months that you can see in this informal proposal.

Any revenue raised from bike tax will be dedicated to off-street bicycle and pedestrian pathways — like hard surface commuter trails similar to the I-205 path [Joint Transportation Committee Co-Chair Senator Lee Beyer has specifically said the money isn’t intended for “recreational paths”]. We knew going in that that’s a place where we lack revenue on the bike/ped infrastructure side. I’ve always been concerned that if we put a bike tax on the table those would be the only dollars the DOT would want to spend on bike lanes, so we thought, let’s keep this out of the right-of-way and legislators agreed with us. So that’s an early victory.

We also hope to see a few exemptions to the tax. It would only apply to adult bicycles and to bikes over $500. [Sen. Boquist stated at Wednesday’s hearing that it would apply to bikes with 26-inch wheels and larger.] We hope to see those exemptions and hope that anyone who’s low-income and buying an affordable bike, won’t be be hit by this tax…

We don’t like a bike tax but given that this has traction and some bipartisan support, we’re doing our best to make it good policy and we’re withholding judgment until we see the bill with all the details.”


If you are opposed to a bike tax, why are you working to help move it along? Aren’t you afraid that your work on it actually helps make a policy — one you clearly don’t support — more likely to become a reality?

“That decision is — and always has been — up to legislators… But I want to make this clear: our organization is opposed to bike taxes. Period. We don’t like them. We don’t think it’s an effective method of raising revenue. We don’t want to see any barriers to bicycling. I’ve directly expressed my organization’s opposition to the tax with all members of the JTPM [Joint Transportation Preservation and Maintenance Committee] and in the bik/ped subcommittee. Period. We oppose it. My board [of directors] opposes it. I’ve put that on the record in writing letters and in emails [on March 8th and March 16th of this year]. So far I have given no safe quarter with any legislator.

But if it’s going to happen, I want it to not suck. And at the same time, it’s my job to see that through and our best strategy is to work with legislators to reduce the impact of any potential tax where it matters most [keep it focused on off-street paths, exclude kids bikes and low-income people]. We’ll have to weigh the proposal on balance with the rest of the package*.”

*When it comes to the “rest of the package,” Kransky pointed the amount of funding for biking, walking, and transit-specific projects in this package is about $126 million a year. That’s about three times the amount he says the state currently dedicates to active transportation (around $40 million). It’s an amount that’s, “Orders of magnitude greater than anything that has come out of Salem before.” In that context, Kransky said he believes it’s time to have an, “Honest conversation with legislators about what they’re doing and who’s going to be uncofmortable with the amount of revenue they need to raise.”

What has been the response to the tax idea from your membership so far?

“Everyone who has reached out to me is upset and doesn’t support it. It’s pretty clear that most folks that take time to reach out and engage are unsupportive… and that’s our current board-approved policy — to oppose a bike tax. So operating in a clear space of not supporting a bike tax, and having to do all this support of the package; this is a tough place to be in. This is the toughest political challenge we have faced during my tenure at the organization. In terms of the scope, complexity, and the degree to which it’s interconnected with priorities we have been working on for decades to increase funding for these things — it’s just huge what we can gain.”

The Street Trust hosted a meeting with bike shop owners last week. What has their response been? (Note: BikePortland has surveyed many local bike shops and will share their opinions in a separate post on Monday.)

“I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, but my impression was that everybody was upset. They’re interested in alternatives. They’re not interested in being targeted by this bike tax and we’re asking them to sign-on to a letter that we hope to send in the legislature next week. We’re also exploring some additional options for how they can increase revenue and include all people who ride bikes, not just one specific industry. Some of those ideas are a tire tax for all vehicles including bicycles that would correspond with usage [Kransky also mentioned he’s heard from a lot of people upset that a studded tire tax isn’t on the table. “Maybe there’s room in a tire tax for a studded tire tax as well,” he said.] Let’s use those funds in place of a bicycle excise tax. Another idea would be to have an optional checkbox on state tax returns to make a donation to trails.”

Do you think that by passing a bike tax, bicycling will suddenly enjoy more public and political support?

“No. I’m one of the skeptics who’s been unwilling to think that putting a bike tax on the table as “skin in the game” that would somehow placate people who are upset about bikes on the road or bikes as “freeloaders.” I don’t see it solving political problems for us either and I don’t see it solving policy problems for the state.”

So if it’s bad policy, it won’t be a political “win,” and you oppose it as an organization, why not fight more strongly against it?

“I don’t think we’re in a weak political position [by working with legislators on it] because I don’t think they can pass a state transportation package that fails to invest in safe routes to school or transit at all. We may yet choose to oppose the bike tax and I still wouldn’t expect they’d be able to move a bill without investments in biking and walking and transit because of the breadth of the coaltion we’ve assembled over the years.”

The Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee has sent their proposal outline to legislative counsel where it is being worked into a formal bill. The committee is scheduled to meet again on Monday (5/15) to continue their discussions. Stay tuned for more coverage.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • rick May 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Tax the metal-studded tires from 5,000 pound SUVs. I still hear and see them by Sylvan !

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    • Justin M May 12, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      I could not agree more. With the damage they do to the road, and just the way cars wear our infrastructure in general, we should be getting a tax break if anything. We don’t damage the roads, don’t contribute to congestion or pollution, and don’t take up parking spaces. We should be taxing those tires, gas, parking, and highway use in general and encouraging more people to bike for the sake of our streets.

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      • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        We don’t damage the roads, but this would go towards building new facilities.

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    • shirtsoff May 12, 2017 at 10:08 pm

      I still hear about two vehicles per day in lower SE Portland tearing up the road each day. I’m sure there are plenty more, but IT IS MAY and just over a month from summer solstice! This needs better detection and citation to prevent.

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  • Michael Andersen (Contributor)
    Michael Andersen (Contributor) May 12, 2017 at 11:58 am

    I’m all for using this tax as a bargaining chip.

    If taxing a mode of transportation and then reinvesting the revenues in improving that mode were inherently bad for that mode, then the gas tax would have been terrible for car sales and 1919 would have been the beginning of the end for personal cars and for car dealers.

    Instead, the gas tax turned out to fuel the automotive takeover of the country. Without the gas tax, there are no interstates, no modern auto industry, and no norm of driving for every trip longer than two blocks.

    The exact opposite happened with this country’s 1898-1905 network of protected bike lanes, which were abandoned for lack of maintenance funds because bike users couldn’t agree on how to tax themselves enough to keep the infrastructure up.

    So there’s nothing inherently wrong with taxing bikes to improve biking. It’d be better to tax driving to improve biking (which we already do, of course) but you can’t always get what you want.

    The revenue is a meaninglessly small amount of money. But if this is truly a major bargaining chip for “huge” benefits in a transportation bill, as Gerik says, then IMO that’s a good deal for bikers, bike retailers and Oregon in general. (If on the other hand Gerik is or later turns out to be wrong and the final bill is a shit sandwich wrapped in freeways with a few percentage points for biking and transit, then obviously this isn’t worth it.)

    Focusing the tax on new bikes only does a lot to reduce regressivity. It is not difficult to buy a good used bike.

    It’d be a lot better if this could apply to Internet sales as well as brick-and-mortar. Dunno if that’s possible.

    Writing only for myself here. (I’m pretty sure my employer, advocacy group PeopleForBikes, disagrees with me, but I don’t know and haven’t spoken about it with anybody there.)

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    • David May 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Is there a danger, though, that the revenue raised from the bike tax will be seen as the *only* revenue that should be used for improving/creating new bike infrastructure down the line?

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      • Michael Andersen (Contributor)
        Michael Andersen (Contributor) May 12, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        Yes, I think there is that danger. But I don’t think there’s much danger because that outcome isn’t really viable. There’s just no way you could pay for any amount of bike stuff with the money that could potentially be raised by bike taxes. Bikes aren’t the most politically popular thing, but they’re too politically popular to almost completely eliminate funding for, which is what this scenario would require.

        Fort Collins has had a bike tax for many years and they continue to be one of the country’s bike-friendliest small towns, with lots of additional investment beyond the revenue raised by that tax.

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        • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 12:24 pm

          I lived in Fort Collins for 3 years (2008-2010) and haven’t heard about a bike tax (can’t find anything in a quick search). Do you have more information.
          If it was in place when I lived there I definitely never heard of anyone buying bikes out side of the Fort to avoid a bike tax.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 12, 2017 at 12:29 pm

            Hi SE Rider,

            I haven’t looked into the Fort Collins tax, but Colorado Springs has had one (might still?).. I did a story about it in 2008: Colorado Springs loves their bike excise tax.

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            • Michael Andersen (Contributor)
              Michael Andersen (Contributor) May 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm

              Thanks folks, I must have been thinking of CO Springs. My mistake.

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            • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 1:21 pm

              Thanks Jonathan.
              I actually lived in the Springs for a few years as well and never heard about this tax when I lived there either. I guess at $4/bike though it’s not surprising that most people wouldn’t even know about it.

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              • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

                We have something similar here on the books, but it’s so expensive to administer that the local police haven’t done it in over a decade.

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      • BrianC May 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm

        Because I wear a tinfoil hat…


        I would expect this argument later, if the bike tax makes it out into the real world…

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm

        Keep in mind David, that Oregon has the “bike bill” law that mandates a minimum of 1% of all funds spent on roadway construction or reconstruction projects must go toward, “inclusion of facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists”.


        And your concern is precisely why Kransky says they came up with the idea to dedicated the bike tax specifically to off-street paths… in order to make this delineation even clearer.

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      • 9watts May 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        “The policy has emerged as a way to dispel the popular notion that bicyclists don’t pay their fair share

        This is the part I’m most concerned about. It was nonsense yesterday, is nonsense today, and will be nonsense tomorrow. Popular notion though it may be it is still screwed up. If we don’t call it out every chance we get is there really any possible way this could turn out to be worth it?

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        • Stephan May 12, 2017 at 1:51 pm

          Shouldn’t politicians speak up against an incorrect idea instead of catering to it?

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. May 13, 2017 at 9:53 am

            Hahaha! You must not have ever met a republican.

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          • 9watts May 14, 2017 at 4:31 pm

            I’d be for holding them to that standard, but unfortunately it seems that neither we nor our politicians are inclined to engage in this kind of accountability exercise. Or am I wrong? I really struggle to understand how (this piece of the conversation) is kept alive by both/all sides. Can anyone help me make sense of this?

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    • SD May 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Once its on the books, the “bargaining” is over. The “bargaining chip” idea would make sense if active transportation had durable bargaining power comparable to freight/auto, etc., but it doesn’t.

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    • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I agree Michael.
      I”m a practical person. This is a way to raise additional funds for biking facilities. Would it be great to get more general and transportation funds allocated to bike? For sure.

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    • Eric Leifsdad May 12, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      How much money do we actually need to build and maintain an excellent bike network modulo the damage caused and risks due to cars? My sense is that it’s about 1/100th of what we’re *actually* spending on bike infrastructure on a per-mile basis. That is, 99% of the expense attributed to bikeways is spent on allowing many cars to be driven fast, particularly at intersections. Without fast cars, it’s just a bit of paving with much less wear. Aren’t we already spending general fund money on Vision Zero and other programs that wouldn’t exist without cars? Everyone has a right to safely walk and ride a bike, so we should charge drivers accordingly.

      It would be interesting to compare ours to the Dutch and Danish budgets per-mile, particularly the speeds and expense of separation (e.g. grade-separated roundabouts.) It seems like reduced connectivity might also factor into it, with the vast majority of their neighborhood streets being warrens of low-speed shared space.

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    • Todd Hudson May 12, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Sometimes ya gotta toss in a bitter pill that also is a bone to the other side. Legislators can’t raise taxes without a supermajority which means getting some of the opposition on board. Compromise is not an easy concept to enunciate when it doesn’t exist in internet comments sections.

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    • Kate May 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      I’ll join you on the unpopular side of the crowd. It sucks that we should tax something that has so much public benefit to it, BUT, I do think that the scope and breadth of this transportation packages calls for nearly everyone to give a little bit.

      I would be absolutely against it if this were to replace the funding that goes toward adding on-street infrastructure required by law when building new capacity or doing major maintenance. But it sounds like Gerik has worked with lawmakers to ensure that the policy behind this provision ties the $$ just to off-street commuter paths, something that does not have dedicated funding. That is savvy, and frankly something we really need to be building more of. It’s the type of infrastructure that will move a lot of bike-curious commuters, and it’s good for recreationalists and kids learning to bike as well. It sounds like, as written, it won’t change the rules around building on-street infrastructure which would have been a red line for me.

      So, for what’s it worth- Gerik, even though you can’t support it, I very much appreciate the work you’ve done to make this policy as smart, equitable, and strategic as possible should it come to pass.

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    • soren May 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      The proposal to spend <b~1.1 trillion dollars building more freeway lanes in the Portland metro area is a monumental disaster. Given that we cannot afford to maintain our current roadway, encouraging yet more people to drive in and through Portland is absolutely insane. Moreover, the fact that this bill relies on a source of revenue that will decrease over time does little to address the chronic hole in transportation revenue. IMO, this bill is contrary to the values of a city that once fought freeway expansion and is also contrary to just about every “plan” put out by the city and metro.

      I very strongly support the new funding for mass transit and safe routes to school but the long-term damage that freeway expansion makes this draft bill a pyrrhic victory.

      And things don’t get that much better when it comes to bike/ped infrastructure. The new hard cap on connect oregon bike/ped funding is only a few measly hundred thousand dollars above the last cycle. Permanently limiting funding for new bike/ped infrastructure from connect oregon is a step in the wrong direction and over the next decade will result in a decrease in bike/ped funding (when adjusted for inflation):

      I also fiercely oppose the bike tax. An excise tax on bicycles will not only discourage bike sale but will make it even more difficult to maintain bike shop profitability in low income areas and communities of concern. Bike shops in these areas are *essential* bike infrastructure! Moreover, given the miniscule revenue optimistically projected for this excise tax why is no one challenging the math as we do for bike licensing. If bicycle licensing does not make sense due to associated costs why would a hard-to-administer bike excise tax be any better?

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      • soren May 12, 2017 at 3:19 pm

        billion not trillion.

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    • B. Carfree May 12, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      I believe that is a misreading of history regarding where the bulk of the funding for infrastructure has come from. Gas taxes and other so-called user fees provide a minority of the funding for road building and maintenance and nothing for emergency response. We are and always have been subsidizing car use. The gas taxes were just to provide some lipstick on that pig.

      This all gets down to two issues, fairness and incentives. Bicycles do zero road damage. Cars, trucks, buses and weather do it all. It is unfair to target the sector that is uniquely not responsible for the damage to our roads for a special sales tax. Also on the issue of fairness, the push for off-street sidewalks, which is what our shared use paths really are, is solely due to the fact that we are not enforcing the laws regarding motor vehicle operation. Motorists disregard the law and our solution is to tax the victims of their irresponsible behavior? I want to get back to the other side of the looking glass.

      As to incentives, one purpose of taxes is to incentive certain behaviors and disincentive others. Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes are obvious examples. Sure, they raise needed revenue, but the societal effects of their use/abuse is why they are frequently targeted. Do we really want to tax/disincentive our best transportation option? This is truly poor public policy.

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      • soren May 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm

        fuel taxes brought in ~$513 million dollars in 2016 -43% of state total transportation revenue. the proposal relies on gas tax increase from 30 cents to 44 cents (over a decade). i’m all for increasing gas taxes but let’s not pretend that this is a stable way to fund transportation.

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        • Eric Leifsdad May 13, 2017 at 11:33 am

          I think the very limited amount of road construction and growing amount of neglected maintenance we saw in 2016 with that $513M speaks to B’s point about how gas tax isn’t covering the construction (or even the maintenance.)

          Raising the gas tax to meet a revenue target while use is declining is absolutely a viable way to fund transportation, though it would have to ratchet up aggressively to match declining use. That’s fine. Add studded tire fees and a plan to slowly grow tire and registration fees, but none of that is really needed until gasoline is done and gone. There’s a lot of room between $0.30 and $5.00/gal, but people will still be burning fossil fuel with a $10/gal tax.

          If you’re concerned about regressive taxes, find a way to help people in need get out of gasoline-powered vehicles rather than keeping gas cheap for everyone. How regressive are the impacts of cheap gasoline?

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          • soren May 13, 2017 at 2:09 pm

            gas taxes can only be used to pay for more highway infrastructure. we need to raise revenue that can be used for transportation infrastructure that does not poison our planet.

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            • Eric Leifsdad May 15, 2017 at 12:40 pm

              Bike paths in the public right-of-way are highways, by the definition in our constitution. The bit about gas tax says nothing about spending it on motor vehicles.

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              • soren May 15, 2017 at 2:12 pm

                i wish this was true but it simply is not.there is a perennial bill that attempts to reverse this constitutional limitation every few years.

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              • Eric Leifsdad May 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm

                “Section 3a. Use of revenue from taxes on motor vehicle use and fuel; legislative review of allocation of taxes between vehicle classes. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, revenue from the following shall be used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair, maintenance, operation and use of public highways, roads, streets and roadside rest areas in this state”

       A bike is a vehicle, so a bike path is a highway.

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              • q May 18, 2017 at 7:58 pm

                My layman’s view is that you’re right–taxes pay for highways, roads, etc. which are defined as for vehicle travel, and bikes are defined as vehicles.

                It reminds me of the legal situation with standup paddleboards. The Coast Guard ruled that they meet the definition of “vessel”, and all vessels must carry a pfd (life vest) on board, plus a sound device (whistle) plus night light, therefore standup paddleboards have those requirements, just as bikes have requirements they must meet as vehicles (apparently).

                But while other boaters and authorities were quick to pick up on the REQUIREMENTS that apply to standup paddleboards, they have been resistant to grant them the RIGHTS that vessels have, such as protection from wakes, right to be in the navigation lanes, etc. Similarly, it seems people are resistant to giving bikes rights, such as the right (which I hope is true) to have their facilities counted as roads or highways that are eligible for road/highway funding.

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      • wsbob May 15, 2017 at 10:31 pm

        “…We are and always have been subsidizing car use. …” b carfree

        The nations’ road system is a transportation network, central to the function of the nation’s economy. The national road system is a capital investment. The U.S. public has got to have it to be a viable, robust nation on the global scale. As it turned out, motor vehicles, and not horses or bicycles, became the predominant mode of travel used on the road system.

        It’s nice to be fair to people using other modes of travel than motor vehicles on the road system, but deciding use of the road area, isn’t a matter of divvying it up, ‘fair and square’, ‘even steven’ according to the number of different modes of travel people use to travel the road. Area of the road for use is determined by demand, which is mostly by people’s use of motor vehicles, more than any other mode of travel on the road.

        The tax on new bikes idea isn’t that great, because it lacks a really strong vision for imposing the tax. Mention of putting the revenue to commuter routes for biking, touches on a positive vision, but there’s not enough of a good, long term vision of the role biking could take if the public were to build a bike travel network that could head off some of the problems caused by not having such a network.

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    • VTRC May 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      I feel like if the BTA/Street Trust had a better track record of negotiating hard and advancing policy in Portland I’d trust them more here.

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    • wsbob May 12, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      What I’m not reading in this story, and interview with Kransky, are reports that legislators well understand that mitigation of road congestion directly arising from excessive motor vehicle use, is perhaps the primary objective of providing area on the roadway specifically for biking. In the densely populated metro areas, at least.

      Lacking a clear vision of the potential that travel by bike has to help meet a growing public’s travel needs, this bill proposal sounds too much like an effort to get back at people that bike for not making the exact same contribution to road use funding that people driving do.

      Without such a vision, realization of this bill proposal sounds like spending good money after bad. Mention in this story that the money brought in from a tax on bikes, might be spent on bike commuter routes, is some encouragement, but lacking, is an explanation for clarification, as to exactly why commuter routes for biking are important.

      Unfortunately, in the so called ‘bike bill’, there is no statement that the money spent on bike infrastructure, is for the purpose of addressing congestion problems on the roads, resulting from motor vehicle use. Here’s a link to the explanation page of that bill:

      Kransky sounds like he’s savvy to how things work in Salem, and to that extent, it probably makes sense to play along to see what kind of good provision the bill could eventually carry into law. I’m not really confident that a tax on bikes is worth the hassle for what it could accomplish. A tax on new bikes to help pay for bike infrastructure, somewhat defeats the potential for encouraging people to ride. Encouraging more people to ride, is best aided by reducing obstacles, rather than adding them.

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    • 9watts May 14, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      “So there’s nothing inherently wrong with taxing bikes to improve biking.”

      I appreciate your bringing up the historical perspective on the present argument, Michael. But I wonder how much we can or should rely on it today, in this moment? Infrastructure is salutary whether you are walking or biking or driving, but when we talk (even here) about transport infrastructure refracted through a modal lens we tend to miss the vast spread in cost and technical standards to which we’d need to build a human-powered system vs a fossil fuel powered system. If we all relied on bikes and feet to get around, the system we’d need would (a) be vastly simpler and cheaper, (b) we’d travel *much less*, and (c) it would of course need to be built with funds that didn’t come from taxes on an obsolete fuel.
      But we’re not really there yet, and probably would have some difficulty figuring out the economics of that situation from where we stand today.
      So back to our present moment, where unlike many other countries we can’t seem to figure out how to charge the majority of road users who do all of the damage for the costs to build and maintain the system, the question as to what role people who bike should play in funding infrastructure reappears, and your quote:

      “So there’s nothing inherently wrong with taxing bikes to improve biking.”

      Bikes and bicycling intersect I think in three discrete ways with this problem:

      (1) they are a minority both numerically as well as treated-poorly-by-the-system,

      (2) the need for mode specific infrastructure is inextricably bound up with bicycling’s relationship to the presently-still-dominant mode that represents a physical threat—is derivative of it’s minority status—and

      (3) as we learned from VTPI, those who do not drive already tend, through paying taxes, to over-contribute to the building and maintenance of transport infrastructure which their use barely grazes.

      Viewed in this light, I find myself questioning the premise that, of course, people who bike should contribute financially qua bikers to future infrastructure. This problem seems like it would (as would many others) benefit first from a scrupulous interrogation to better understand these economic, historical, not to mention moral dimensions.

      “…a major bargaining chip for ‘huge’ benefits in a transportation bill…”

      I’m having a really hard time swallowing this. Where is the history, the track record, the official statements we could draw on to confirm this claim?

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    • El Biciclero May 14, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      “If taxing a mode of transportation and then reinvesting the revenues in improving that mode were inherently bad for that mode, then the gas tax would have been terrible for car sales and 1919 would have been the beginning of the end for personal cars and for car dealers.”

      I don’t think this is necessarily true. We could also claim that taxing alcohol would spell the end of parties, and taxing cell phones would put the kibosh on pervasive use of that technology—two real, current types of taxation that have not had those effects. Then we could wonder about the effect of taxing, say, organic gardening supplies to grow your own food, or rainwater collection (I hear that’s been tried) to conserve water. The latter two would not encourage very many people to venture into those endeavors.

      When we’re talking about something that addictively enables human laziness, vs. something that requires taking on extra hassle and physical effort (as satisfying as the results may eventually be for some people with a pioneering spirit), I think the results of taxing those different types of activities are going to be different. Sure, those that already fancy themselves urban homesteaders might sigh and take on the extra financial burden, but it sure won’t encourage anybody new to try it.

      I know you added the stipulation that tax revenues be reinvested to improve that mode of transportation. To truly make bicycling as compelling as driving or cell phone use, it would have to be made so easy and comfortable that it rivaled car travel. But I don’t believe the plan put forward really does much of that. As it stands currently, using a bicycle for transportation instead of a car is about as compelling as writing old-fashioned letters with a quill pen, rather than texting. Once the bicycles are herded off the roadways, to be haplessly mingled with pedestrian traffic in what I truly consider to be the worst of both worlds for bicyclists AND pedestrians, then the big improvement will have been made to car travel, not the newly-taxed mode of bicycling—and we will have very few new bicyclists. I still say that to specifically tax bicycles to protect them from cars is mere appeasement of backward-thinking politicians—who are we going to tax to protect the pedestrians from bicyclists on the MUPs that may or may not result from this plan? When taxed bicycling becomes so popular that everyone does it, then what will become of the poor pedestrians? How many [more] stories will we hear about reckless bicyclists endangering them, and the need for “protected walkways”? Will we indeed consider taxing “walking shoes” to fund separated sidewalks to keep pedestrians out of the way? Will it take another 100 years to reach that point?

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    • Todd Boulanger May 15, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Nice point (regarding history)…

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  • BB May 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Increase the gas tax so that it is reflective of the demands of motor vehicle use on our roadways and our society.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Um, what about electric vehicles or high mileage vehicles? One reason for the drop off in revenue from gas taxes is that cars get better mileage.

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      • 9watts May 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        Not true.
        [Here’s] why real-world efficiency gains have been so meager for the last two decades: (1) stalled out standards; (2) the rise of light trucks vs. cars; (3) falling sales just as standards were rising; and (4) an aging vehicle fleet. Those four trends led to only modest gains in fuel economy—in fact, vehicle fuel economy accounted for only about 13 percent of the reductions in per capita fuel consumption over the last decade. The bulk of the declines can be traced to lower vehicle travel per capita—a topic we’ve covered ad nauseum.

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        • soren May 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm


          plugin vehicle sales in OR up to 4/2012 were only 1886. and there has been explosive growth in the number of plugin vehicle being sold since then:

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          • 9watts May 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm

            Explosive – seriously???

            you have a habit of posting charts and statistics here that lack a numerator. The breathless boosterist stuff you keep posting about electric cars is just that. The 550,000 cumulative EV sales since 2010 in that chart you linked to are only meaningful if compared to the 105.4 million new cars sold in the US over that same time period. Dividing those two numbers yields one half of one percent of new car sales.

            I stand by my 2012 citation.

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            • soren May 14, 2017 at 2:02 pm

              definitely explosive. for example, 2017 sales are ~30-40% above 2016 sales:


              EVs will almost certainly make up a large fraction of sales by 2028 — the end of this transportation budget period — if current trends continue (a conservative prediction):

              “By 2022,” the report says, “the unsubsidized total cost of ownership of BEVs [battery electric vehicles] will fall below that of an internal combustion engine vehicle.”


              like it or not, vehicle fuel taxes are going to go *poof* as a transportation revenue source. moreover, given oregon’s wingnut constitutional prohibition on the use gas taxes for anything other than highways, it is absurd to argue that fuel taxes are a sustainable way to decarbonize our transportation network.

              if we are going to see climate social justice, we need taxes that target you and me, not the lower-income people we have displaced to the car-centric periphery:

              * people who choose to live in larger homes should pay a carbon tax.
              * people who drink booze, smoke weed, or eat out should pay a carbon tax.
              * people who choose to eat meat and dairy should pay a carbon tax.
              * people who choose to consume stuff, in general, should have to pay a carbon tax.
              * lower income people who are forced to drive for economic reasons should pay no tax.

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              • 9watts May 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm

                You should know that I’m a big fan of Arthur Pigou, but I’m not a fan of these breathless boosterist statistics you love to shower us with. You really need to read a bit closer than just the headlines.

                …from the Wired article you linked to:
                “reaching global sales of 41 million—25 percent of total market share—by 2040”

                That would be one quarter of all the NEW cars sold, 23 years from now. That is both a fairly low percentage and a long way off. I don’t see any evidence for the POOF you just claimed. We’re going to experience lots of much more exciting climate change well before then, so I’m not going to hold my breath that it is the EV that will kill revenue from gas taxes. My hunch is that we’ll have stopped driving well before then, but you already know that.

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              • Bill May 14, 2017 at 7:19 pm

                Oregon’s also signed onto California’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle mandate ( ), which compels the automakers to sell a certain amount of electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Oregon. The automakers have a nice website here: which shows full electrics and plug-in hybrids at about 2% of sales last year and so far this year. Compliance with the mandate in Oregon will drive availability and sales of those vehicles, and as a state we’d likely be closer to 15-20% of new light duty sales being full electric or plug-in hybrids by the early-to-mid 2020s.

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              • soren May 15, 2017 at 2:37 pm

                reductions in fuel use will not only come from BEVs.
                as the usa truculently approaches its “come to jeebus” climate change moment, it’s just a matter of time before we see stringent mpg mandates.

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      • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 3:03 pm

        Inflation has a much bigger impact, both the basic CPI and the more complex costs for construction materials and skilled labor. As time goes by, even if revenue increases from greater gas consumption, the value of money generated declines while construction costs, especially for employee health care, generally continues to rise. On top of that, wear-and-tear accelerates if you continue to do next to nothing over a long period of time (as both Portland and Oregon have done.)

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      • BB May 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

        Road user fees in addition to gas tax then. If your car leaves the garage, cameras send you a bill. Next?

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  • dwk May 12, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    If you need to have a bike tax, a tax on bike tires would be a far more equitable and collectable tax.
    A new bike tax is easy to get around (bikes can be sold in parts, etc.)
    Tires can be taxed easily.

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    • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      With a $500 minimum on new bike sales, I think this is a pretty equitable tax.
      The vast majority of cyclists will likely only pay this tax once a decade, if ever.

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      • soren May 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        A $500 minimum means that just about any new bike sold in a bike shop will be taxed. If the goal is to kill bike shops in lower-income areas, then this is a great bill. Not to mention the fact that this bill charges people a (punitive) tax for doing something that is a net benefit to the city, county and state. It’s akin to charging people a sin tax for vaccinating their kids.

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        • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 4:55 pm

          At last count there were how many bikes in lower income areas? And don’t many (most or all) of them sell used bikes?

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          • soren May 19, 2017 at 9:39 pm

            you are making my point.

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      • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        Most bicycles sold in the USA are Walmart-type bikes, usually well under $300, all tax-free; most users ride maybe a couple times a year.

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        • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 4:09 pm

          This tax will barely affect me, if at all. But it is still d u m b.

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        • soren May 14, 2017 at 9:39 am

          like many higher-income bike riders, i buy frames and build them up.
          so this tax specifically excludes many wealthy folk and soaks lower income people. it’s worse than dumb — **it is malicious**.

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          • Matt S. May 14, 2017 at 11:42 am

            Maybe they should tax all bicycle related goods over $500 to account for your prediction. Capture tax on frames, forks, wheel sets, group sets, high end hubs, etc.. as an high-end consumer, consider it a donation to the pot.

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          • Kyle Banerjee May 14, 2017 at 3:34 pm

            It is better if it applies to all bikes rather than only ones over $500.

            Used bikes are a much better deal than new bikes and are subject to no tax. If a 5% tax really represents a hardship, a poor person is much better off with a used bike than a poorly made department store bike that will require much more repair, won’t last as long, and will cost more to maintain.

            I personally think the tax is a bad idea for many reasons, starting with it won’t raise much money. And encouraging people to buy new bikes of the least reliable variety with a high cost per mile to operate doesn’t strike me as a good way to help those who aren’t well off.

            It’s a safe bet all projects will be in areas that already have well developed bike infrastructure yet a huge portion of the fees will be paid by those who live in areas with little or even zero bike infrastructure. I might add that such areas overall are not nearly as well off economically as Portland, nor do they have access to anywhere near the goods and services everyone here takes for granted.

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    • HJ May 12, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      So tax every new tire we have to buy due to glass they leave on the roads. No thanks. That’s not taxing usage, that’s taxing us for their failure to clean the roads. Also gives them extra incentive to not clean bike lanes.

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      • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        True enough, I replace more tires due to damage than I do to wear.

        Maybe tax brake pads? ha.

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    • Ryan May 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      I’ve actually thought about this for a few years now. If there was ever to be some bike-related tax, I thought it would be best to put a small tax on certain bike “consumables” – tires, brake pads, bar tape, etc… Obviously you could consider just about any part as “consumable”, so you’d have to put certain restrictions on it (for instance, wheels wouldn’t be taxed).

      If you had a 5% tax on these items you’d only be looking at an extra buck or two in most cases, so shouldn’t have as much of a negative impact on low-income folks. Even then, I’d think that it would bring in more revenue than just taxing new bike sales. The one plus I do see in the bike sales tax is if they do put the $500+ provision in then it does alleviate the impact on low-income people.

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    • BB May 12, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Yes, tax all bike tires that cost over $500..

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      • q May 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

        We may see $500 tires soon because they are subject to inflation.

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        • Justin M May 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

          this made mi día.

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  • Buzz May 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    The fact is bicyclists do pay their fair share; so instead of this pandering BS, it would be a lot better to run some sort of educational campaign that explains this to the voters, rather than rolling over and kissing all the motorists asses this way.

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    • David May 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      it would be a lot better to run some sort of educational campaign that explains this to the voters
      Recommended 0

      hahahahahahahahahahahahaha AHHHHHHHHHH

      That sounds like a fabulous use of resources.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      What did you pay towards transportation projects last year?

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      • idlebytes May 12, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        Well if you take the state transportation budget as an example only about 40% of the revenue is directed at drivers through registration/licensing fees and the gas tax. The other 60% comes from other tax sources that we all contribute too. So even people who don’t drive but do work have some of their income go to the transportation projects.

        Also there are polls out there that suggest that a lot if not a majority of cyclists also own cars and drive so they pay those driver specific taxes as well.

        Finally cyclists require much less infrastructure then cars so even if they don’t drive that 60% goes a long way provide the 1/5 to 1/3 of the infrastructure required by cars. They also do less damage to the road (none basically) so their infrastructure requires less maintenance.

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        • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 3:13 pm

          The other 60% are partly federal grants, paid with the federal gas tax and to a limited extent the income tax, and partly “local match”, paid with parking fees, gas tax, property tax (very limited), ULF, etc.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 3:57 pm

          I ran the percentages the other day on the 2015/17 ODOT budget.

          Suggesting that the other 60% comes from you and other taxpayers is not really valid. You’re not paying a weight mile tax, are you?

          motor fuels tax 30%
          federal funds 27%
          weight mile tax 17%
          drivers and vehicle licenses 18%
          transpo license and fees 3%
          other transfers 3%
          general fund 0%
          sales and charges for service 1%
          all other revenue 1%

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          • mh May 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm

            We should all be paying weight*mile tax, doubled or tripled for miles traveled on studded snows. I’m more than willing to pay that on my bikes and car.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 4:05 pm

          Also, your argument would be much stronger if you didn’t focus on DOT budgets but looked at local road funding…which is funded in much greater amounts by property and income taxes.

          So let’s say someone made $200k ( I wish), telecommuted, and paid property taxes on a house. They are likely paying more into the system than someone who makes $40k a year, bikes and rents.

          You can argue that on aggregate ‘maybe’ you pay your “fair share”…but there will also be drivers who pay more in taxes than the person who makes $40k.

          I think a safer argument is that cyclists are less subsidized than drivers. Because you can’t honestly prove that the tax contributions of cyclists would pay for all of the cycling infrastructure out there.

          So my question to you is: How much cycling infrastructure did you use this year, how much did it cost and how much did you pay for it?

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          • idlebytes May 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm

            Let’s start with your first point about the weight tax. The weight tax is on commercial vehicles providing goods and services, so for all intents and purposes we as a collective group pay for that. They’re charged and they adjust their prices for their services accordingly so yes I would say I “paid” the weight tax as much as a driver did when purchasing say a gallon of milk. Also your math is a little off from what I can tell you compared new revenue with the total available balance which includes the previous balance and other adjustments. Motor fuel is 26.26% or 1.087 billion out of 4.14 billion total new revenue.

            Next I focused on the ODOT budget because this is a discussion about a state budget for road transportation. It seems like a valid place to start. I guess I could break down every part of every city and county in Oregon’s budgets to determine all revenue sources but that doesn’t seem like a good use of my time. I’m operating under what I think is a reasonable assumption that if added up all of those revenue sources would look similar when averaged together for the whole state.

            For the rest of your points and final question I don’t really see what making points like that or asking questions like that serve. My original response was to indicate that generally as a whole we all contribute to the transportation budget. Obviously children, retired persons, and the unemployed don’t contribute as much as the wealthy on an individual basis but that sort of reasoning implies that the wealthy or even just employed vs un-employed have the right to more of the infrastructure.

            We don’t design our state infrastructure trying to make sure that every penny one person puts into the pot they get out of it in services. I’ve never had a need for the fire department but I’m happy that my taxes continue to fund them for those that are unfortunate enough to need them. I’ve worked here since I was 16 and used all kinds of infrastructure including cycling and it’s changed a lot over the years. There’s little value in making sure that my current contribution in taxes validates my use of the road on a yearly basis and honestly how would someone even do that?

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          • 9watts May 12, 2017 at 6:25 pm

            “How much cycling infrastructure did you use this year, how much did it cost and how much did you pay for it?”

            I feel idlebytes already responded really well to your questions, but I’ll just say – again – that cycling infrastructure, so-called, really has no meaning, would not have come about, in the absence of the threats that automobility presents to those outside of cars.
            Cycling infrastructure is defensive, like women’s shelters or sanctuary cities are defensive. Without domestic violence or vindictive, racist deportation policies they would have no rationale or purpose, so asking battered women to pony up for the costs of the shelters and hotlines would be absurd. I think your line of questioning—even acknowledging some important differences between my analogy and cycling—is similarly misguided.

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            • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 8:14 am

              This is not true. If the auto had never been invented, roads still would have needed to be paved and infrastructure built (or improved). Like it or not, today’s bike infrastructure has mostly been able to piggyback off of what has already been built. If it had had to been built on it’s own it would have cost a fair bit. Seems unlikely that without cars we would all still be traveling around on ramshackle dirt paths. Even though bikes do minimal damage to pavement, weather and vegetation would still cause the pavement to be maintained without autos.

              See Michael’s original comment about how bike infrastructure lagged because of lack of funding for it.

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              • David Hampsten May 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

                Until automobiles were popular after WW1, most roads in the US and Europe were not paved. To go long distances you took the train, on a network that got you to nearly any town of any significance.

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              • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 12:50 pm

                Very true, and most of them were a small fraction of their current size. Who knows, maybe we would have stayed a more agrarian culture.

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              • 9watts May 13, 2017 at 3:02 pm

                “If the auto had never been invented, roads still would have needed to be paved”

                Needed to is a pretty strong claim. Bikes with wooden wheels in the 19th century benefited as much or more from glassy smooth roads than did the cars of that period, but with tire technology what it is I don’t think (today) bicycles require any pavement or equivalent surface to function. Skinny tires that run on high pressure are like high heels – they arose in the context of smooth roads and have a very narrow range of conditions in which they serve their purpose, but we don’t play soccer in high heels nor do most people around the world who bike bother with skinny high pressure tires. The chief beauty of the bike is that it is cheap, can last essentially forever with very little maintenance, and can go most anywhere without any special accommodations.

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              • soren May 14, 2017 at 9:42 am

                roads or sidewalks?
                imo, the idea that bikes are “vehicles” is pure bigoted nonsense.

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              • soren May 14, 2017 at 9:48 am


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            • Dan A May 13, 2017 at 8:41 am

              Somehow I don’t think our infrastructure would have been the same. I don’t see Texas dumping $2.8 billion into a 23-lane highway in that world.

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  • Mary May 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I support it. Bikers use the road. And if money is tight, you typically buy a used bike, so the extra tax would not hinder someone from getting a bike. I always wondered why we do not require cyclist licenses.

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    • SD May 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      This isn’t a tax on road use, this is a tax on people who choose to support local businesses.

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      • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 3:41 pm

        How about a progressive “user fee” instead? For example, if you drive and you have a car registered in your name, you pay $200/yr; If you drive or have an active license, but don’t have a car registered in your name, $100/yr; If you don’t have an active drivers license nor a registered vehicle, the $50/yr; And no fee if you don’t have an active drivers license nor a registered vehicle, but you do have an Oregon Trails card.

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        • SD May 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm

          Would have to think this through, but a road use fee appears more fair than other taxes. A first step could be countering the federal tax break for heavy vehicles under section 179. It doesn’t make sense to subsidize a >6000 lb vehicle while taxing a <30 lb bike.

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    • GlowBoy May 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      “I always wondered why we do not require cyclist licenses.”

      I’ll give you three very good reasons. Maybe you can tell me ONE good reason why we would require them.

      1. No one – anywhere – has figured out a cyclist-licensing scheme that would raise more money than it costs to administer.
      2. Having to be licensed in order to ride a bike would be serious deterrent to cycling. Biking rates would probably drop by half, or more. That’s not a desirable outcome for cycling, or for society.
      3. There’s no compelling reason to do it, except to pander to irrational resentments. The typical cyclist+bike weighs 200 pounds and averages 8 mph. The typical automobile weighs 4000 pounds and averages 25 mph. Anyone who’s taken even a couple weeks of physics can calculate that a typical automobile, on average, carries about two hundred times more kinetic energy – and thus potential to harm others – than a typical cyclist. This doesn’t even count the fact that cyclists have more situational awareness than motorists (not being wrapped in sound-deadening, blind-spot-laced steel-and-glass cages), are several times more maneuverable and several times narrower than car drivers, all of which contribute to cyclists being less dangerous. There’s just no good reason at all to hold cyclists to all the same standards as motorists, including licensing.

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      • wsbob May 12, 2017 at 11:14 pm

        ““I always wondered why we do not require cyclist licenses.”

        I’ll give you three very good reasons. Maybe you can tell me ONE good reason why we would require them …’ glowboy

        Just ‘one’ good reason? Easy: to help enhance the safe, competency of people biking as road users. A fairly simple course of study, written testing, and road testing might help a lot to reduce some of the unsafe road use maneuvers that seem to be common with many people biking. They are, after all, the vulnerable road users, and their first line of defense against collisions and calls, should be their own skill and knowledge in using the road with a bike.

        Decide on an age point, such as, ‘people 13 and under, would not be required to take the tests to be licensed to ride a bike. Based on the idea that perhaps their use of a bike would be on roads limited to their immediate neighborhood, to a neighborhood school, etc.

        Just to consistently reject the idea of licensing people that bike, doesn’t do much to generate support for biking and bike infrastructure, from the public. Money for such a license? Forget it, in other words, make it free to the applicant. It would cost taxpayers to fund the program, but they might gladly pay it, if it could result in safer use of bikes on the road.

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        • GlowBoy May 15, 2017 at 12:17 pm

          What you’re proposing might result in greater safety for cyclists, but would not substantially benefit the motoring public. I don’t agree that “they might gladly pay it, if it could result in safer use of bikes on the road.” Since most drivers won’t see a benefit to themselves from this program, they would insist that cyclists pay the cost of cyclist licensing.

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          • q May 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm

            Yes. They’d think, “If the bikes want to use our roads, they should pay for their licenses to use them”.

            And they’d have some logic behind that view. Cyclists (and pedestrians) DO benefit from drivers being licensed, but that doesn’t mean cyclists and pedestrians would be happy to pay for costs of licensing drivers.

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            • wsbob May 15, 2017 at 10:04 pm

              “…Cyclists (and pedestrians) DO benefit from drivers being licensed, but that doesn’t mean cyclists and pedestrians would be happy to pay for costs of licensing drivers.” q

              People that drive motor vehicles, aren’t vulnerable to people that bike. People that drive and ride in motor vehicles, are vulnerable to people driving motor vehicles.

              A program for training and licensing late teens and older people in riding a bike safely and capably in traffic, could work relatively easy. It could be free of charge to the applicant, and semi-voluntary, as in…it could be the choice of the person riding to decide whether to study, be tested and get the license…unless they don’t use good road use practices when actually riding, and are stopped…at which point the officer could issue them a citation, requiring that they do the program.

              That’s somewhat comparable to what can happen when someone is stopped for not wearing a seat-belt while driving. That happened to my sis. The citation she was given, allowed her to take a DOT safety course in lieu of the fine…at least I think that’s how it worked, though I’d have to ask to be certain on the specifics.

              Bike advocates keep asking for more and more from the public, is support of biking. What are people biking, willing to offer as a gesture of their sincere dedication to fulfill their part in having the road be a safer place for everyone to travel by? I don’t want to say ‘Nothing’, because riding rather than driving, in itself represents some gesture, but probably not enough. I understand people biking, being reluctant to support a tax on new bikes…but they should be willing to offer something. A willingness to encourage education of people biking specifically for riding safe and well in traffic, could be an important move forward

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              • q May 16, 2017 at 10:46 am

                Not sure why you included my quote in that.

                I said I thought non-bikers would resist paying for licensing of cyclists. You’re saying if cyclists aren’t going to support a tax, they should offer something. And the “something” could be a licensing program for cyclists that non-cyclists pay for. So you’re proposing that cyclists tell non-cyclists, “We’re offering that you pay to license us”.

                That puts us right back to my comment, that people will resist that.

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              • wsbob May 16, 2017 at 11:54 am

                I included your quote, because I think that just as people biking benefit from the training, testing and licensing of people driving, so would people driving benefit from the training, testing and licensing of people biking.

                And people biking are comparatively, the vulnerable road user…there are far fewer of them on the road than there are people driving, meaning…that the cost of a licensing program for people biking, might be relatively modest, and for the improvement in road safety such a program would offer to all road users, it occurred to me that people driving (though actually, I mean all Oregon taxpayers.) might be happy to shoulder that cost.

                The something I had in mind that people biking might “…offer as a gesture of their sincere dedication to fulfill their part in having the road be a safer place for everyone to travel by…”, was to advocate discussion of and support for the training, testing and licensing of people biking.

                To date, here on bikeportland, gauging from the reaction in comments of some people that apparently regard themselves as bike advocates, there consistently has been strong resistance to encouragement of responsibility taken for safe road use by people biking:

                …rejection of a proposal to have tail lights be part of standard equipment for bikes…rejection of encouragement for people biking to use at least some hi-vis gear when riding in low visibility conditions…rejection of the requirement that bikes stop at stop signs and stop lights…rejection of the idea that people biking be obliged formally acquire techniques and procedures specific to handling a bike safely in traffic that included motor vehicles.

                That consistent rejection of most any proposed obligation made of people biking and using the roads, doesn’t shape up too well when bike advocates ask for things to make conditions for riding a bike on the road, safer and more enjoyable than it is now.

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            • El Biciclero May 16, 2017 at 11:27 am

              Indeed, those who have restricted themselves to driving-only as their means of getting around resent the apparent freedom of those who have allowed themselves multiple options. Drivers who insist on licensing bicyclists or registering bicycles (my own assumption here) are more concerned with “fairness” and punishing what to them are “freeloaders”—spreading the misery around—than they are with safety. Think about why we license dogs, but not cats. When is the last time anyone got mauled by a house cat? When drivers insist on bicyclist licenses, it is similar to saying, “I know my dog bit your kid last week—but your cat tinkled on my azalea! You should license that thing!”

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              • wsbob May 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm

                It’s the type of sarcastic, negative, contemptuous thoughts expressed in your comment, even if you mean them to some extent as a joke, that I think may be working against progress towards public support of better and more extensive infrastructure for biking. Good for cheap laughs, maybe, but actually, I think that kind of mindset is costing people that bike, and want to bike, a lot.

                It’s going to take some true vision to get public support for practical biking infrastructure that goes much beyond the standard main lane adjoining bike lanes installed piecemeal hither and yon with in little to no connecting network. Whenever a serious discussion arises about that, to have it devolve into people tossing brickbats back and forth, I think just puts the realization of better conditions for biking and walking, further down the road. Have your fun, but please be a little more circumspect in having it.

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              • 9watts May 16, 2017 at 1:35 pm

                Exhibit A: Bob Huckaby

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              • q May 18, 2017 at 11:16 am

                I thought El Biciclero’s comment was apt and appropriate. He was commenting about a position, not the people taking the position. He was writing it here, not saying it in person to anyone. Based on his past comments, he’d be a persuasive spokesperson for cycling interests if he were speaking to people who want cyclists to be licensed or who don’t think the general public should pay for cycling infrastructure.

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              • 9watts May 18, 2017 at 12:02 pm

                wspob: “sarcastic, negative, contemptuous”

                Really? El Biciclero? Maybe you have the wrong guy?

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              • wsbob May 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm

                q at: q May 18, 2017 at 11:16 am

                q…below, is the section of bic’s comment that I particularly suspect is intended to be as I said: “…sarcastic, negative, contemptuous thoughts expressed in your comment, even if you mean them to some extent as a joke, that I think may be working against progress towards public support of better and more extensive infrastructure for biking. Good for cheap laughs, maybe, but actually, I think that kind of mindset is costing people that bike, and want to bike, a lot. …” wsbob

                “…those who have restricted themselves to driving-only as their means of getting around resent the apparent freedom of those who have allowed themselves multiple options. Drivers who insist on licensing bicyclists or registering bicycles (my own assumption here) are more concerned with “fairness” and punishing what to them are “freeloaders”—spreading the misery around—than they are with safety. …” el bic

                It’s not appropriate or constructive to summarily refer to people driving as having restricted themselves to driving, when that’s not necessarily, or actually I should say, often is not the case at all. Or to suggest that an interest on the part of people driving, in licensing some people to ride bikes, is born mainly out of resentment for people that have options for road travel in addition to driving or riding in motor vehicles. And towards punishing people.

                Here on bikeportland, which is at least a weblog covering bike and transportation related issues, and to some extent, though sometimes I wonder…a bike advocacy weblog…it’s popular for people favoring biking, to bash away that people driving. The old ‘us vs them’ lockstep habit seems very tough for some people to break.

                I happen to know from reading and posting to this weblog for a lot of years, that el bic has said he drives truck, as well as riding a bike. As a result of that experience, he’s got, or should have, a little broader, balanced perspective on who are the people driving, and what their actual range of interest in having people that bike in traffic be trained, instructed and licensed to ride a bike in traffic, might be. That perspective is not reflected in his comment though I wish it were.

                q…this weblog comment section is not a private email. It’s a public forum. When people post comments here, they’re not just speaking to their buddies…they’re speaking to the public. bic is slamming people that drive, because that kind of meanness towards people that drive, is popular, and I dare say, supported on bikeportland. Unfortunately, because this a public weblog, those kind of comments don’t stay just here at bikeportland. The public, many of whom have to drive, get wind of that kind of extreme perspective.

                Anyone taking the kind of extreme perspective el bic has indulged in, does not to me, seem likely to have much chance of being a persuasive spokesperson for cycling interests to people interested in considering licensing of people that ride, or that have reservations about paying for bike infrastructure.

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              • 9watts May 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

                I think it priceless that you are attacking El Biciclero for the tone of his post here. I find him to be wittier and gentler on those with whom he disagrees than just about any of the regular commenters (myself definitely included). I’d pay money to watch the two of you match wits any time, any place.

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              • q May 18, 2017 at 5:35 pm

                wsbob–I may respond further later, but for now I’m just trying to absorb the information you gave me about the comments here not being private emails, and trying to come to terms with this new knowledge that they can be seen on the internet.

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              • q May 18, 2017 at 10:41 pm

                wsbob–it seems that you’re responding to something other than what El Biciclero wrote.

                For instance, he wrote, “those who have restricted themselves to driving-only…”

                You replied, “It’s not appropriate or constructive to summarily refer to people driving as having restricted themselves to driving, when that’s not necessarily, or actually I should say, often is not the case at all.”

                But he didn’t do that. He wasn’t saying all drivers restrict themselves to driving only. He was speaking only about those who do.

                Once you make that correction to your assumption of what he was writing, it should show that the rest of what he wrote was much less negative and extreme than what you’re thinking it was.

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              • El Biciclero May 19, 2017 at 2:05 pm

                wsbob, let me correct a couple of things:

                As q stated, I did not in any way make a sweeping generalization about all drivers by somehow assuming that anyone using a car has restricted themselves to driving-only. That would be patently absurd, as I, myself both drive a car (you must be thinking of another commenter having driven a truck for a living), and ride a bike for transportation.

                Also, I have many different motivations for commenting here, depending on the context. Many times my motivation in commenting is to challenge assumptions, rather then outright persuade anyone of anything. Sometimes, that must to you sound shocking. In this case, with respect to mode choice, how many people who drive absolutely everywhere are truly incapable of riding a bike or taking the bus for some trips? They may assume they “can’t” do it, but any able-bodied person who does not avail themselves of transportation modes other than driving has indeed artificially restricted themselves to driving-only. Maybe they have a choice but have chosen to live so far away from work and services that they feel riding to those places is “too far”. Maybe they have have a choice, but have crammed their daily schedules so full of tightly-abutted appointments that anything other than driving would not allow them to attend them all. Maybe they have convinced themselves that riding is too dangerous. Maybe they never learned to ride a bike, maybe they don’t like helmets, maybe they don’t want to be seen as a weirdo—whatever the reason, unless it is for some physical disability, it is usually self-imposed. Of course there are those against whom the system is tilted, who must work two or more jobs and risk getting fired from any of them for showing up late—there are counterexamples, which is why I most definitely did not broad-brush all drivers as self-restricted.

                I do indeed have a broader perspective on roadway use than most people who only drive. I feel the frustration of “congestion” more than usual—but I know there is an alternative, and if I really don’t want to sit in traffic, I can use that alternative—and I don’t feel one bit like a freeloader for doing so. I also feel the weight of our cultural attitude that tells me if I ride a bike, I am inviting disaster, so don’t be surprised when it strikes—it’ll be your fault. I feel the frustration of sitting at a left turn signal that will not detect me, of being aggressively tailgated by drivers while I’m doing the actual speed limit, of being overlooked and disregarded by drivers, construction site managers, businesses, roadway and traffic engineers, and by a certain, seemingly large, segment of our population that thinks bicyclists are “crazy” simply because they cannot imagine themselves doing it. As a driver, I actively look around every parked car, every bush, every intersection, every dark curve in the road for bicyclists and pedestrians. If I come upon a bicyclist taking the lane, I know that they are not “forcing me into oncoming traffic”, but merely to slow down for likely less than 20 seconds or so. If I’m going to turn soon, I will stay behind a bicyclist rather than attempt to overtake and then turn in front of them. I treat bicyclists I come across as traffic, even if they aren’t doing it like I’d do it.

                Insert witty, yet earnest and apropos closing line here…

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          • wsbob May 15, 2017 at 9:40 pm

            “What you’re proposing might result in greater safety for cyclists, but would not substantially benefit the motoring public. I don’t agree that “they might gladly pay it, if it could result in safer use of bikes on the road.” Since most drivers won’t see a benefit to themselves from this program, they would insist that cyclists pay the cost of cyclist licensing.” glowboy

            Bearing in mind that compared to people driving, people riding bikes are the vulnerable road user, the kind of problem I believe people driving are having with some of the people riding, is poor road use procedures: failure to signal, or signal properly, poor road use maneuvers, and so on. People on bikes abruptly popping on to the road, not effectively equipped for basic visibility to people driving. .

            Sure there’s bad drivers too, but they’re not the vulnerable road user. And, I’m not thinking that everyone that drives would be favorably supportive of bearing the costs of a bike road use education program for people biking, but I believe many people that are good, responsible and conscientious drivers…and I do feel they are the majority of road users…would possibly be glad to bear the costs of such a program. If not permanently, at least initially for say, just to grab a number…10 years to introduce and try such a program out.

            People biking aren’t just a bunch of nobody’s on the road, and neither are people driving. Everyone on the road is someone’s kid, or father, mother, sister, brother, neighbor, and I think many, if not all people using the road, are keenly aware of this, and try drive, ride, or otherwise use the road, accordingly. As it should be.

            Here in the U.S., advances in infrastructure for safe use of the road with bikes or on foot, is slow in coming. It’s exasperating to me to regularly read comparisons of the U.S. to European countries that are comparatively very small and very densely populated. Cities like Portland, Beaverton, or any other sizable city in Oregon, are far away from being like the European cities where it’s said that people biking, randomly make lane changes without much signaling, don’t wear bike helmets, and on and on. U.S. cities are not like those cities for riding conditions.

            To me, bike advocacy has just seemed to be kind of stagnant in terms of making really major gains in improvements to conditions for biking here in Portland, Beaverton and other cities. Part of the reason, may be that people biking, have not been willing to bring much to the table to bargain with. They ride, sure, and while that does in theory at least, help with motor vehicle use congestion mitigation, I don’t think it’s as clearly as visible a gesture to overall safe road functionality, as dedication to supporting safer riding on the road would be.

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    • HJ May 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Because 1. Cyclist licenses are a money losing proposal for the state, and 2. Most cyclists already have drivers licenses.

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      • wsbob May 16, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Considerations and procedures for riding a bike in traffic that includes motor vehicles, are in certain important ways, seriously different from driving say, a car in traffic with mostly other motor vehicles in use on the road.

        Even though they have a license to drive a car, many people may lack the knowledge and skills to safely ride a bike in traffic. Easy and safe to ride a bike where no motor vehicles are in use….not so easy or safe to ride a bike in traffic with motor vehicles in use, coming from every which way, stopping suddenly, turning abruptly, not all signalling as their operators should be doing.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Asking cyclists to “pay their fair share” is akin to asking people with disabilities to pay for reasonable accommodation from others. We already get the sh!t end of the deal in terms of infrastructure, asking us to pay for sh!t is just offensive.

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      • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm

        Except you have a choice to ride a bike versus not having a choice to have a disability. That’s not a good analogy.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 8:27 pm

          True, I understand the difference. But I think the analogy of having to pay just to bring you up to the same level as everyone else still fits. It would be like making women pay extra compared to men because their health care needs are different. Oh wait, we already do that and it’s BS.

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        • Kathy May 12, 2017 at 9:57 pm

          Many people’s choice is to ride a bike or walk.

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        • Dan A May 13, 2017 at 8:33 am

          There are lots of people who can ride a bike, but can’t drive.

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          • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm

            And probably more vice versa.

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            • Dan A May 13, 2017 at 8:47 pm

              Really? Kids 3 to 15 can ride a bike but not drive. Same with unlicensed adults. I’d bet there are more people in those groups than people who are physically unable to ride a bike.

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              • El Biciclero May 14, 2017 at 1:20 pm

                Uh, I know a few, and daily see hundreds of licensed adults who are unable to drive a car. That doesn’t stop them.

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            • Dan A May 13, 2017 at 9:30 pm

              Numbers from 2009 indicate 210 million licensed drivers in the US, compared to 306 million population.  Remove the 7 percent with suspended licenses, and that’s 195 million.  So, more than 36 percent of us can’t drive.

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              • David Hampsten May 14, 2017 at 5:30 pm

                So if 36% of Oregonians cannot drive and Oregon has a population of just over 4 million, then 1,440,000 residents cannot drive. Apparently 22% of those are under 18, so roughly 1,123,200 people are over 18 and cannot drive in Oregon.

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              • SE Rider May 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm

                “can’t” or “won’t/don’t”? (I’ll give you people < 15 years old)

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              • David Hampsten May 15, 2017 at 1:32 pm

                Sorry, good math but bad logic on my part. 22% of the 4 million are under 18, so then 1,440,000 – 880,000 under-18s = roughly 560,000 or 14% are people over 18 and cannot drive in Oregon. And perhaps yes, some choose not to drive, and some may be too old or challenged to do so. And of course the unregistered motorists.

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              • Dan A May 15, 2017 at 4:13 pm

                You want to change my definition to fit your argument? Hmm, rather than do that, I’ll clarify my point: I believe there are more people in the US who cannot currently drive than there are people who cannot ride a bike. I’m counting people who physically capable and legally allowed to perform said activity. People without a valid license can’t legally drive, so they don’t count.

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              • David Hampsten May 16, 2017 at 5:27 am

                I’d love to know where in the US one cannot legally bicycle and why you might exclude such people, but my main concern is that most people under the age of 15 can probably ride a bike (though I have yet to see data that shows this), but most cannot legally drive a car. Since we are dealing with a tax that is generally paid by “adult” consumers buying $500+ bicycles, it’s the “over-18s” that we are more concerned about. With that in mind, how do you defend your argument?

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              • Dan A May 16, 2017 at 7:45 am

                What argument? Now you’ve got me confused.

                Adam said that asking cyclists to pay more is like asking people with disabilities to pay more. SE Rider said that it’s a choice to ride a bike, rather than a condition. I read that as ‘a choice to ride a bike vs driving a car’, to which I stated that there are more people who can’t drive than there are people who can’t bike. So they aren’t choosing not to drive – they currently can’t drive.

                We frequently frame the conversation under the assumption that people can always choose to drive if they want (Do you want good infrastructure and a safe route to work? Drive a car!), but the reality is that only 2/3 of us can wake up in the morning and choose to drive somewhere. The rest of us (and yes, I include our children — why wouldn’t I?) depend on crappy or nonexistent gutter infrastructure to make our way to work and school without being mowed down by someone who ‘chose the right way to travel’. And really, is that the choice we are trying to present to people? If you don’t want to be taxed 5% for side paths so that distracted drivers don’t run you over, you should just choose to drive a car instead? I’ll tell my kids that.

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              • wsbob May 16, 2017 at 10:17 am

                “…We frequently frame the conversation under the assumption that people can always choose to drive if they want (Do you want good infrastructure and a safe route to work? Drive a car!), but the reality is that only 2/3 of us can wake up in the morning and choose to drive somewhere. The rest of us (and yes, I include our children — why wouldn’t I?) depend on crappy or nonexistent gutter infrastructure to make our way to work and school…” dan a

                I suspect that people’s road use with a motor vehicle, is largely a result of having to drive or ride in a motor vehicle, rather than making a choice to do so. For many people, the range of choices by which they can meet their travel needs, are very limited. They can drive, or be chauffeured, often the easiest, most accessible means of travel. If it works out, they may be able to take public transportation.

                If they’re really lucky and have the initiative, they may have the physical ability, and the range of travel needs that will realistically allow them to use a bike to meet those travel needs. Most people in the Willamette Valley, in the larger cities and towns, likely don’t have the circumstances that would allow a bike to be their ‘go to’ option for meeting their travel needs. So it’s back to driving, or riding in a motor vehicle.

                The percent of all road users that ride, which is what? Around 8 percent, and maybe 20 percent on the heaviest traveled bike commute routes in Portland? …just doesn’t garner great public support for major allocation of roadway for use with bikes.

                I think a greater percent of the public, most of whom drive or travel by motor vehicle, might come around to support for higher quality, more extensive and functional bike routes incorporated into a connecting network…if there were at least one single example of such a system somewhere in Portland, or maybe Beaverton. Unfortunately, the mindset for creation of such a system, simply does not seem very tangible at present. Provision by the public for modest biking infrastructure is willingly, but somewhat grudging made. Ideas like the proposed bike tax, somewhat appease the people that particularly object to putting much money into bike infrastructure that they feel few people use, and irresponsibly at that.

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              • David Hampsten May 16, 2017 at 5:34 pm

                Very good. Thank you.

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  • Buzz May 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    And yes, there should be a hefty tax on studded tires, the fact that isn’t in this bill is unconscionable.

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  • SD May 12, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    The $500 cut off will prevent big-box stores from paying and instead will bleed local bike shops that operate on thin margins and provide much more than bikes to the community. Why doesn’t all of the pro-business blather from the legislature apply to bikes? Or do we just support mega-corp businesses with huge tax breaks?

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    • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      So you think a 5% tax (which of course the shops will pass on to consumers) will dissuade a significant amount of people to buy a bike from that shop (keep in mind that’s $50 on a $1K bike)?

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      • SD May 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm


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        • Cyclekrieg May 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

          Really? If $50 is going to make or break you on $1000 purchase, you shouldn’t be making that purchase right then.

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          • SD May 12, 2017 at 12:55 pm

            Talk to people who work in bike stores. I’ve seen people try on bike shoes in a store for 30 min and leave to go buy them on-line to save a few dollars. A lot of people shopping for bikes that are 1-5k will comparison shop on-line first or call around for prices before visiting a bike shop. If there is a $50-200 difference, they won’t even go to the bike shop. I am not saying this is smart or good, but it happens.

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            • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm

              And those same people are still going to do that. Retail in general has much bigger problems than this tax.

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          • SD May 12, 2017 at 1:10 pm

            Not a question of breaking someone. People will just save $50 by buying somewhere else.

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            • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

              Like where? If they’re not already buying online, I don’t see this as enough to push someone over the edge.
              If you’re talking Washington, I would guess there will be some kind of clause put in for that (esp. given that some shops will offer you tax free purchases there).

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          • Batiya May 12, 2017 at 1:14 pm

            Low-hanging fruit. Because it’s far easier to go after — and judge — middle-income bike riders than to tax corporations and the wealthy.
            I see a lot of bending over on the part of Street Trust here.

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  • BrianC May 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    My thoughts on taxes… (From watching how our representatives are trying to fund this, and other bills.)

    I like government services. I think taxes should pay for them. I can see a lot of things that I think government, with proper oversight, could provide.

    I am generally *not* in favor of the increasing use of special fees levied against various *users* or beneficiaries of government services.(1) I am in favor of a progressive income tax, with funds going to the general fund. To be distributed by the legislative process. (I hate the idea of a sales tax.)

    I *think* all of the angst in Salem could be “fixed” by bumping the income tax rate of the top bracket 1 or 2 percent.(2)

    Bottom line – stop scraping the bottom of the barrel for fees. Just bite the bullet and set the income tax rates high enough to pay for the services required.

    (1) – Ok, one exception. How about a $1 gallon tax on gas.
    (2) – Yes, I’d pay more if this happened, but I wouldn’t notice any difference in the long run.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Why would you disproportionately impact cars that use gasoline as compared to those that are electric or hybrids? Do they not both use the infrastructure?

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      • BB May 12, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        The problem with your argument is that you don’t care, you just hate the idea of having to pay more for precious gasoline.

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      • Chris I May 12, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        The gas tax is easy. Any other tax is going to have higher administration costs, and waste. Do you want to put an ODOT GPS tracker on your car? I know I don’t.

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      • Dan A May 15, 2017 at 4:19 pm

        I missed your solution. Is it in this thread?

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  • El Biciclero May 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Even if a tax were imposed, and even if it were successful at raising funds for “bike” (intentional quotes) infrastructure, the real winners would be motorists. Drivers would potentially get more ways for bicyclists to be kept out of their way, but what would bicyclists get? More Multi-use (NOT “bike”) paths? Would bicyclists end up paying to be mixed with pedestrians, while drivers got streets that were less and less populated with bicyclists? Do we end up trading being hated by motorists to be hated by pedestrians? I guess we’re hated enough by everyone now, so what difference does it make?

    I’d pay a 10% tax on frickin’ inner tubes, if it would guarantee some bike “superhighways” that were clear of both cars and pedestrians, and connected some of the outlying suburbs with each other and with Portland proper. But what we would likely get are two-way “parking-protected” bike lanes (ask the guy I almost witnessed getting killed yesterday by a right-turning concrete pumper how “protected” he felt at Broadway and Jackson), 8-ft. wide MUPs with concrete seams and dog leashes strung across them, and disconnected segments of green-painted, yet door-zone-occupying bike lanes.

    Appeasement doesn’t work.

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    • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      I know you use the Highway 26 path….what do you think about that new Sylvan exit sign that ODOT has planted in the path, without telling anybody about it first?

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      • Brian May 12, 2017 at 1:55 pm

        What the hell is that about and how many dolares did it cost?

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        • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 2:27 pm

          The Sylvan exit sign used to be on a span over the highway, but I think they decided to put an electronic info board on that span instead, and move the exit sign onto a huge post, which currently takes up half of the path. I assume they’ll eventually fill in the cement around the post and we’ll get some of that space back, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority. They conveniently neglected to mention any permanent changes to the path in the press release announcing the temporary detour.

          “As part of an ODOT project to add new electronic signs on U.S. 26 and I-84, there will be short-term impacts to the multi-use path along the south side of U.S. 26.

          ….The path will remain open during daytime hours, but will be narrowed to 3 feet minimum width to accommodate the work zone.

          …The closure area is part of a work zone for an ODOT RealTime project, which will provide real-time traffic information on roads to help travelers get where they’re going more safely and efficiently. The work adjacent to the path involves drilling foundations for a new electronic sign.”

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      • El Biciclero May 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm

        Heh. Well, yeah—I didn’t mention that little perk of being bound to “bike” paths. They can be torn up and constricted by encroaching poles (in this case, a friggin’ 3-foot-diameter mast for a “smart” electronic sign board to tell drivers how much the rest of their drive into town is going to suck) without the slightest bit of input or review by users.

        Outside of these poles and the concrete seams and dog leashes though, this is one of the better MUPs in the area at what, 12′ wide? If you can survive the crosswalk at Skyline/Scholls Ferry, it’s not a bad way to get halfway downtown. The rest of the way? you’re on your own: you’ve got a long, winding route through the zoo (which is botched up by reservoir work currently), the shoulder of 26 down to Jefferson (closed/blocked—with no warning signage for bicyclists—until “fall” by more “smart” sign work), or a longer route over Hewitt to Montgomery, Broadway Dr., or Fairmount to Marquam Hill, all of which end in pretty steep descents for a commute.

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    • Ryan May 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      From the few British-based bike sites I’m occasionally on, it does seem like building more off-street bike infrastructure can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Some drivers feel that if there’s an off-street path anywhere nearby, then that means no cyclists should be on the road, even though they have a legal right to be there. So then they get even more abuse than they would have possibly gotten otherwise. Seems like the more non-motorized infrastructure that becomes available to cyclists, the less tolerant drivers are to cyclists that are on the road (which isn’t a high bar to begin with).

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 4:23 pm

        Drivers in Portland already feel this way about greenways. It’s likely why there are barely any main business corridors with cycling infrastructure.

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  • GlowBoy May 12, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Bargaining chip, sure. Maybe an ultimate compromise might include a bike tax if it included more for cycling than just dedicating the tax to recreational paths. But not yet. Caving in now (even while passive-aggressively stating opposition under your breath) is very lousy negotiating strategy. I expect horse-trading, and compromises, and the final outcome not including everything we want. But you always start by asking for everything you want, if not more. Otherwise you lose the game.

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  • HJ May 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    All a tax on new bike sales would accomplish is hurting local bike shops. You kow exactly the kinds of small businesses our legislators like to claim to support. If you really want to finance the roads try a tax on studded tires. Heck if you want you can even include studded bike tires just to make people happy. Those are what are really destroying our roads. Frankly I find the idea of paying a sales tax (seriously? The old sales tax debate again?) on a bicycle before on studded tired pretty offensive as it punishes people who are helping our roads flow, as opposed to the studded tire crowd that’s doing the opposite.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Yep, this tax will just lead people to buy bikes online. It’s already hard enough for a small bike shop to stay afloat. Though, given how friendly to big-business our state leadership is (remember when Gov. Brown took money from Comcast?) I am not at all shocked by this legislature.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        Yet there seems to be a whole lot of shops in town. Far more so than other cities.

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      • jeff May 12, 2017 at 2:45 pm

        I really doubt it. Most riders don’t know a thing about bike assembly, set-up, or maintenance.

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      • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 3:21 pm

        Unless they got it from dealers in Ohio or Colorado, the online dealers would be legally obliged to charge Oregon customers the tax if the bikes are over $500. Interstate commerce and all that. Not sure about Wiggle UK though.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 4:24 pm

          Just like how amazon is “supposed” to charge sales tax, right?

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  • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    No matter what cyclists pay, there will be those who will always maintain it’s not an equitable amount and have the mistaken assumption that they fully fund their own usage of the resources.

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    • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      This is a landmark moment. I fully agree with you.

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    • q May 14, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Exactly. The response by those people will be:
      –“Big deal”.
      –“You mean I should be happy that 100% of bikes already on the road are paying ZERO taxes?”
      –“Pass a law that all bikes have to pass a driver’s test and then maybe I’ll think there’s been some progress”.
      –“I’m supposed to be thrilled that the bike pays $25 ONCE when I pay TEN TIMES that gas taxes alone every year?”
      –“How does this solve the fact that they’re all on our streets totally uninsured?”
      –“Now that they’ll be getting their own bike paths, let’s go after the real solution–getting them OFF our roads and ONTO those paths”.
      –“Obviously since their own group supported this tax they don’t believe their own argument that bike paths benefit drivers, otherwise they would have opposed the tax”.
      –and so on…

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  • m May 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    We need a state wide sales tax. Not a one item sales tax. Really stupid idea.

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    • Mike Sanders May 12, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      That has been tried thru various measures over the years…eight attempts so far, if memory serves. Each time the proposal gets beaten, and each time by larger margins than the previous attempt. Another try would result in a big bucks campaign which would probably set a record. Sales taxes don’t sell in Oregon. Another try would be a major political disaster that might haunt us for years.

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      • B. Carfree May 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        Fair enough. In that case, we need a tax on television commercials and bulk mailers. Follow that up with a ninth attempt at a sales tax and we’ll have our state budget in fat city. Every so often, when we run low on money, we can just put the sales tax or a GMO labeling tax back on the ballot and collect more ad-tax money.

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  • JL May 12, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Bike tax already happened in Oregon in the late 1890s- early 1900s. At first Oregonians were happy to pay the bike tax that went directly towards bike paths. After a few years of drivers ruining the nice bike paths, cyclists were less willing to pay the tax.

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    • JL May 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      The bike lanes have been paid for repeatedly, i dont believe it is bikes doibg damage to the painted lines though.

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  • Allan Folz May 12, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    “to raise an estimated $2 [million?] a year.”

    And when the revenues don’t materialize (do they ever?) what will people say when Salem floats increasing the tax to 6%? To 8%? And expand it to include parts? And add a licensing requirement? Etc.

    Once you concede that cyclists should pay a direct-tax to offset their usage, you’ve lost the argument. All that’s left is biennial haggling over how much it’s gonna be this time.

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  • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    This feels like charging women a higher tuition for college to cover the cost of blue phones.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy May 12, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      That’s a pretty good analogy. I’d be curious as to how often those phones get used and what the implementation costs were. There is always the argument “we should do it no matter what it costs because it is right” versus “is it really feasible and worthwhile”? It really depends on whether you use it or not and the contingent valuation of such a service.

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  • bikeninja May 12, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I also think they are forgetting than in almost every other state in the union charging an additional sales tax on bikes would be easy because the sales tax infrastructure is already in place. Since there are no sales taxes in place in Oregon the infrastructure to report, collect, deposit and enforce such a tax from retailers would have to be created from scratch. This would certainly cost more than the revenue generated by the tax, so this measure seems pointless. other than to placate the auto zombies who think petroleum powered motor cars have a future.

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    • David Hampsten May 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      There are about 5 states without sales tax, including Oregon. They all collect the same info as the other 45 states, as they all use much the same software, especially in larger stores. Small shops will be hit hard, of course, but the reporting will be the least of it.

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  • Shit Sandwich May 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    To borrow Michael’s phrase, the bill already is a “shit sandwich wrapped in freeways.” Almost all of the money will go to increasing driving, pollution, global warming and to boosting freeway construction companies profits at the expense of regressive taxes on the poor.

    Instead of begging for crap scraps, bike and alt modes advocates should be negotiating from strength. Give us something that reduces pollution and increases livability or our thousands of highly motivated supporters will begin gathering signatures to refer this open-face shit sandwich to the ballot.

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    • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      This is the name you have chosen for yourself?

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    • wsbob May 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

      “…should be negotiating from strength. …” shit

      And what ‘strength’, might you think that would be, considering that the numbers of people using the road for travel with bikes, seems rarely to rise above 20 percent of all road use modes of travel?

      I think despite how bad negative consequences of excessive driving can get, the arguments in favor of bike lane travel networks that would be more functional and enhance community and neighborhood livability, still don’t resonate strongly with the general public…a great many of whom are very well aware that the roads have to work well for use with motor vehicles, if there’s much chance of them getting done what they need to do on any given day.

      By the way, while I realize in some quarters and occasionally to make a certain point, scatological language (that’s words for feces and whatnot.), happens…your weblog name and further use of that kind of word in your comment, sucks. It’s unnecessarily obnoxious in an appropriate for family viewing weblog for the discussion of bike and other travel mode issues.

      It is true though, that any group seeking to affect change, needs to try do so from points of strength. There are strong points favoring better, more functional infrastructure for travel with bikes. An important challenge is always, to figure out how to effectively convey this to the general public, persuasively convincing people that it’s important, to society as a whole, to invest their money in infrastructure for biking that’s is more useful overall than a nice bike trail to the park for a little weekend relaxation with the kids.

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      • Bike Strength May 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

        What bikers lack in numbers, they make up for in dedication. The NRA, although bonkers, has proven the power a small, very dedicated minority. When it comes to roads, so have truckers.

        To refer a tax measure, you don’t need anywhere near a majority of voters. Just a lot of dedicated volunteers. On the ballot, referred tax measures go down. There’s the leverage, the strength.

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        • wsbob May 15, 2017 at 11:39 am

          I’m not sure what you’re saying. If you’re talking about just getting a measure on the ballot for the public to vote on, that’s doable by a dedicated minority, with the help of volunteers. Once on the ballot though, the measure has to be good enough that people actually will vote it into law. The NRA…just checked the wikipedia page:

          …has 5 million members. Relative to total U.S. population, I suppose that number might be seen by some people as a minority. It’s primary objective though, is grounded on the second amendment, which has huge support from the U.S. population. NRA has a lot of money too…for ’13, 348 million dollars.

          I haven’t compared bike advocacy groups to see how they compare to the NRA for member numbers, money, and the basis for the objectives they seek to accomplish.

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  • Ben May 12, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    What’s the basis for that $2 million number? A 5% tax on new bike sales would require $40 million in sales of new bikes over $500 every year. How many people are they assuming buy a road bike every year? I know recreational riding is popular, but ~40 thousand sales/year popular?

    According to a Travel Oregon report, retail AND service sales in Oregon totaled $212 million in 2012. Doesn’t service make up most LBS revenue?

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  • Bjorn May 12, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    When I was lobbying in Salem I several times had the whole “mandatory helmet law” tossed at me, generally by Republican legislators who didn’t want to support any bike related bill without attaching that poison pill to it. There were some in the BTA who thought we should consider negotiating with it, but take a look around at places that have made that compromise, it hasn’t made cycling better, if anything it has made it worse. I feel this tax will be no different, it will be a slight discouragement to people thinking of buying a bike, and in the end improvements that might be promised in exchange either would have happened anyway or will not materialize.

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  • Adam May 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    It will be interesting to see what the nuts-and-bolts of this tax concept shake out to be and their potential affects, if it moves forward. Will it apply to storefront retail only? What about online sales going out of state? There’s a solid number of typically higher-end bicycle companies ( in Oregon that could be affected as well…. 5% on a $5000 bicycle is $250. Will partial builds be affected? And can we get a separate clause added to require building of single-track with the taxes collected from mountain bike sales?

    Next up… excise tax on shoes of any sort to fund infrastructure for people who also walk or run.

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  • m May 12, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Mike Sanders
    That has been tried thru various measures over the years…eight attempts so far, if memory serves. Each time the proposal gets beaten, and each time by larger margins than the previous attempt. Another try would result in a big bucks campaign which would probably set a record. Sales taxes don’t sell in Oregon. Another try would be a major political disaster that might haunt us for years.
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    So instead we’re going to have a GRT (which is a hidden sales tax) plus a sales tax on bikes sold in state. Again, no thanks.

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  • SD May 12, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Cynical interpretation:

    The bike excise tax is essentially an anti-Portland tax to make the overall spending palatable to Oregonians that resent that their tax dollars are being spent on bike lanes in Portland. It also helps Oregonians overlook the fact that most of the money will be spent on roads in the Portland metro area.

    Local bike shops are collateral damage.

    Box store bike sales are exempted because they have more than one lobbyist in their corner.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      Absolutely. It is the same reason that light rail is being explicitly excluded from funding.

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    • Mike Sanders May 13, 2017 at 8:06 am

      What gets me is the idea that ped/bike trails outside Portland (I.e. Columbia Gorge) must be regarded as “recreational trails” and therefore must be funded from a different part of the budget, while those inside Portland (I.e. I-205 Trail) are considered “commuter trails” and thus must be built and funded separately. That would make getting the Trans-America Trail built across Oregon tougher because you’d have to have separate funding for different segments. That makes no sense. Trails should be funded and built and maintained as a statewide system. States like Indiana and Ohio are doing that and getting key sections of the US Bike Route network built, as well as trails connecting to them. That’s the approach we should be taking.

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  • q May 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I don’t see bike lanes or paths as only–or even primarily–benefiting cyclists. I’d like to see The Street Trust reminding politicians of that.

    Each person on a bike is someone not taking up road space and wearing out roads in a car, and the better bike lanes or paths are, the more people will be switching from driving. Plus there’s the more cynical argument (for drivers who don’t like sharing with cyclists)–each bike in a bike lane or on a bike path is one less to share the road with.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 12, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      The only reason we even need cycling (and sidewalks, for that matter) infrastructure is because of all the cars making the street dangerous. The drivers causing the unsafe situations are the ones who should all be paying.

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      • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 8:19 am

        This is just so wrong. In the complete absence of cars (and any paved streets or sidewalks) we would all be walking/biking on dirt paths (1880’s style).

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        • Dan A May 13, 2017 at 8:42 am

          And we would finally have singletrack in Portland.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 13, 2017 at 9:58 am

          The streets were originally paved for bicycles, not cars.

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          • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 12:53 pm

            That’s possible for maybe 15% of modern day Portland.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. May 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm

              Perhaps we would not have so much sprawl in Portland if cars were not the primary mode of transport, and could get by with only 15% of the road space.

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              • soren May 14, 2017 at 9:47 am



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        • El Biciclero May 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm

          What makes you say that? If the majority of the population got around by these means (walking/biking), and there were no such thing as cars, I would bet that the demand for a few nicely paved thoroughfares would still arise. Without having to waste tax dollars on over-engineering for, and mitigating the effects of motor vehicles, we could have super-sweet paved bikeways/walkways that could be build very cost-effectively and would really need very little maintenance. Plus, there would be no argument over who “pays for” roads. Also, in a city like Portland, I don’t think we could get away with dirt bridges; there would be infrastructure, it’s would only be a matter of how it was paid for.

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  • q May 12, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Economically speaking, taxing over-$500 bikes should increase the price of under-$500 bikes. It makes bikes under $500 better deals than ones over $500, since every dollar pays for the bike, not a tax. Someone wanting a $1000 bike may not be moved to get a non-taxed bike, but someone wanting a $500 or $600 bike may be moved to instead get a better-deal, under-$500 bike, increasing the demand and thus raising the price of those.

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  • Portlands Electric Bike Store
    Portlands Electric Bike Store May 12, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Will the tax apply to bikes shipped to portland? How about bikes purchased over the internet and picked up in Portland? Or does it depend on where the person purchasing the bike lives?

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    • David Hampsten May 14, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      Usually it’s where the person’s shipping address is that counts when you live in a sales-tax state. When I order online from Oregon, they charge me NC sales tax (6.75%) based upon my ship-to address, but if I order something to be sent to WV, they charge that state’s sales tax (7%).

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    • David Hampsten May 14, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      If you ordered online and picked it up in Portland but paid with your credit card with an out-of-state billing address, the business is technically obliged to charge the sales tax of where your billing address is, but they might “forget” to do so (and often do). It also depends what state you live in – Colorado & Ohio have odd exemptions, for example. If you pay by cash, there are no questions asked, of course. And business-to-business transactions are tax free throughout the US, of course, as are transactions with 501c3 nonprofits.

      If you live in a sales-tax state and you bought an item from a tax-free state, and you somehow avoided getting charged, you are supposed to declare the lost sales tax revenue on your state tax form and pay it, but few people ever do.

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  • Andrew Margeson May 12, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    We can and should contribute $50 on a $1,000 bike purchase for these projects. What is this, about $5 per year over the life of the bike? We got off lightly. Would you rather have an annual registration fee? We cannot always oppose direct financial contributions to the cost of dedicated facilities without being perceived as freeloaders. Other user groups make indirect financial contributions as well.

    That said, if the bicycle community has a better idea, I’m sure Salem would be all ears.

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    • mh May 13, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Your bikes have a life expectancy of only ten years? That’s sad.

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    • soren May 14, 2017 at 9:46 am

      so i assume you are similarly eager to pay a shoe tax to support sidewalks. imo, some things are a clear public good and should not be subject to malicious taxation that panders to extremists.

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      • SE Rider May 15, 2017 at 12:57 pm

        Many (most?) in society view auto travel as a “clear public good” though.

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      • wsbob May 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        “…some things are a clear public good…” soren

        Apparently, it’s not at all clear to the U.S. public, that infrastructure for biking represents even close to being a public good on the level that infrastructure for travel and transport with motor vehicles are.

        If bike lane networks for travel within neighborhoods and between community to community and city to city were generally thought to be as important as are roads for motor vehicle use, the public would know what such networks are, and would readily prioritize funding construction and maintenance of them, way beyond the token level existing at present.

        People advocating superior bike infrastructure for practical travel and transport, rather than mostly recreational, with heavy commute riding on select few routes…have yet to make a strong case.

        This tax on new bikes proposal, is mainly a waste of time Something for conservative legislators to talk about to please their constituents back home. If they’re not missing the bigger picture, of how increasingly dire is the need for far better walking and biking infrastructure than exists now, I would certainly like to read that this is something they’re actively talking about.

        On a more positive note, specific to the walk-bike infrastructure improvement project on the 158th Ave west border on the Nike world headquarters out in Beaverton, signs that the work has made significant progress, are apparent. Riding by yesterday, I noticed that south of Jay, heavy equipment was there and had widened the area between the sidewalk and the huge berm. I’ve not really looked at plans or drawings, but have heard this will be a wide MUP, maybe 12′ wide? If so, that’s encouraging.

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  • Carrie May 12, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Are children’s bikes with 26 inch or 700c wheels that cost greater than $500 exempt or not? The rules as laid out don’t reflect the marketplace! How about when the majority of the days of those bikes are to non Oregon residents?

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    • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 8:17 am

      I don’t think those would be exempt, but the vast majority of bikes with those tire sizes are adult bikes.

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      • Carrie May 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm

        Unless your business is only selling children’s bicycles — then a tax on those specific wheel sizes hits really hard. So if they are exempting certain bikes because they don’t want to tax children’s bikes, then they need to work really hard to define what is a children’s bike (we could help do that, if asked).

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        • SE Rider May 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

          I think they HAVE defined kids’ bikes as anything with wheels less than 26″ (at least according to this bill).

          In view I think that’s fair. It’s going to be hard to discern between adult versus teenage bikes.

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          • Carrie May 15, 2017 at 7:42 pm

            It’s not hard in this price range — there are significant differences between adult and children’s 26 in wheel bikes. The proposal is wheel size, but my point is that wheel size is one of the least significant features of a specific children’s bike, again especially at this price.

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            • q May 15, 2017 at 8:59 pm

              What’s really the point of exempting children’s bikes, anyway? Someone buying a $500+ child’s bike is probably not poor. Obviously a main aim is to remove one argument against the tax, but beyond that I’m not sure that there’s a lot of logic to supporting the tax, but opposing it being applied to kids’ bikes over $500.

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              • 9watts May 15, 2017 at 9:08 pm

                I’ve been wondering the same thing this whole time. I’d really like to know.

                “Obviously a main aim is to remove one argument against the tax”

                How is that?

                I rather think it is a tortured gloss on our culture’s inability to come to terms with bikes-as-transportation, and its inverse: bikes-semiotically-marked-as-kids’-toys. So, since this is about paying for serious stuff like asphalt, kids’ bikes shall be exempted because they are not serious?!

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              • q May 15, 2017 at 9:25 pm

                I think the idea behind the child’s exemption is so tax supporters can head off arguments like, “The tax will discourage kids from riding bikes”, “I won’t be able to afford bikes for both my kids”, “the last thing we should be doing is making something so healthful and good for the environment–kids riding bikes–more expensive”, etc.

                And everyone knows you always have to show that you’re “for the children” in things like this.

                I’m not saying they’re good arguments. I also think you’ve got a good point that some people think of kids’ bikes as toys only.

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              • q May 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

                The kids’ exemption also reminds me of what happens when government bodies approve bad taxes or fees. It can be difficult for a politician to take a stand against a tax or fee, or even just to analyze whether it really makes sense, and what its ramifications are. It can be much easier to approve it, but throw in a couple exemptions (“doesn’t apply to kids or the poor”) to show you’re for those groups.

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  • q May 12, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Will this tax be known as the Vancouver Bicycle Retailers Stimulus Act?

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    • Andrew Margeson May 12, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      The Vancouver combined sales tax rate is 8.4%.

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      • Andrew Margeson May 12, 2017 at 8:57 pm

        I guess you might be able to travel to Vancouver, buy the bike, show you are an Oregon resident and be able to avoid the sales tax, but that’s a lot of effort to avoid $50 on a $1,000 purchase.

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        • q May 12, 2017 at 9:34 pm

          It’s certainly not something everyone would do. On the other hand, Vancouver’s a few minutes away by car for lots of people (about half a million, actually)–no more effort or time than driving across town, or from Portland to Beaverton or Gresham. And the effort needed to avoid the sales tax consists of pulling your driver’s license out of your wallet.

          5% savings isn’t insignificant on a bike that may cost $500, or $1,500 or more. Plenty of people from Vancouver shop in Portland to save 8.4% on things much less expensive than bikes.

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          • SE Rider May 13, 2017 at 8:15 am

            And Washington finds a way to charge tax on people that buy cars in Oregon. I imagine Oregon could figure out a way to do something similar for people who buy bikes in Washington.

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            • q May 13, 2017 at 11:26 am

              I’d guess they’d do that. And they’d also have to close the internet loophole, which is probably more of an issue than people buying in Washington. AND an inflation thing, to keep exempt bike prices from creeping up into taxable territory.

              Point is it will be more complicated than it sounds now, all for something that doesn’t generate that much money. On the other hand, as others have said, it’s better than systems that would be even more complicated, such as an annual tax.

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              • Stephen Keller May 15, 2017 at 10:27 am

                Bear in mind that a 5% bicycle excise tax will be accompanied by an overall increase in costs of bikes, parts and service due to the extra overhead to manage collection of this excise tax at the shops (and other vendors). According to the city of Portland page ( there are 72 bike shops in Portland. If we assume the extra accounting work amounts to 1/4 person per year in effort (10 hours per week), then we’re looking at around $560K to $748K dollars per year at $15.00 to $20.00 per hour. Add extra payroll taxes on top and you’ve easily got $10K to $20K per shop per year to administer this in Portland alone. Maybe my numbers are high, maybe it’s only five hours per shop per week. It doesn’t matter. Administrative costs will fall on the businesses rather than the state and will directly hit the bottom line.


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  • rick May 12, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Tax shoes, socks, soap, and toenail clippers ! Go tax wheelchairs and crutches ! Skateboards !

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 12, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    The 5% tax on new bicycle is ridiculous. It will raise a trivial amount of money ($1-2 million) while penalizing the road users who do the most to reduce congestion and don’t cause wear and tear on roads.

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    • soren May 14, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      it’s interesting to see that there is no estimate of administrative costs for this new tax. this is not going to be an easy tax to administer.

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      • Kyle Banerjee May 14, 2017 at 3:35 pm

        And good luck with the internet enforcement. This is only going to hurt local shops.

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      • Administrative Costs May 15, 2017 at 12:42 am

        Great point. Half the tax could end up going to collecting it. A whole new taxing mechanism and bureaucracy would have to be set up. Not to mention the wasted time of retailers and their customers.

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        • Dan A May 15, 2017 at 9:05 am

          Why not come up with a real user name and stick around?

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        • q May 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

          Ironically, if it ends up raising NO money, it may still have support, since one reason people are pushing it is that they think it will shut up opponents who complain that cyclists aren’t paying for “their” cycling infrastructure, so the political and PR value is still there.

          Of course then opponents will point out it didn’t raise anything, so they’ll want to either a) drop the tax because it’s dumb, or b) say it should be 15%. I’d guess “b”.

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  • q May 13, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    This all made me curious what that new Ikea bike costs: $499 (or $399 for Ikea family price).

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  • q May 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Will tandem bikes be exempt up to $1000?

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    • q May 15, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      It’s actually a serious question, and a situation similar to the “marriage penalty” in the tax code. If two people each get their own $499 bike, they get taxed nothing on a total purchase of $998 dollars. If they get one $998 (or for that matter $501) tandem bike, they get taxed.

      Or, one person buys two $499 bikes, one for off-road and one for commuting, and gets taxed nothing on their $998 purchase. If the same person instead buys a single, more versatile bike that works for both, but costs $501, they get taxed.

      I know these aren’t the prevalent types of purchases, but add them to the rules that will ultimately be needed for buying in Washington, buying on internet, buying components, etc. plus all the record keeping and collection costs…

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  • Eric Leifsdad May 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Note, we already have the “share the bike lane” blue license plates which donate $5/year to the BTA/Cycle Oregon — perhaps if it were $50, these drivers would begin to cover the damage their car does to the bike lanes they drive it in.

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  • Susan May 13, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    The benefits of bikes far outweigh bike riders’ use of the roads in terms of congestion, pollution, parking, etc. If this tax passes, will there be more space on bikes on mass transit (more hooks or carriers??) Perhaps we need a “week without bikes” like the day without immigrants to show the benefit. The busses and roads would be so congested!

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  • Mark smith May 13, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Flipping out about $5 on a bike sale sort of says something about someone’s state of mind. It’s not a big deal. It shuts up most of the loud mouths-the rest…well they are unhinged anyway.

    Oh wait, is someone unhinged about a fee that dwarfs
    the latest frappucinno at Starbucks craze?

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    • q May 13, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      It’s not $5, it’s 5%.

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      • El Biciclero May 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm

        Yeah, I would have paid $50-something in taxes for my last bike purchase.

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    • 9watts May 14, 2017 at 7:35 am

      “It shuts up most of the loud mouths”

      How do you figure that?

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      • Dan A May 14, 2017 at 5:28 pm

        If that’s the goal, wouldn’t corks be more affordable?

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  • Mike Quigley May 14, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Like most taxes, people are in an uproar during the talking phase, but go to accept them once enacted.

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  • David May 14, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Adam H.
    Hahaha! You must not have ever met a politician.
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  • SD May 14, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Taxing people who ride bikes instead of driving is like charging a special toll on people who carpool and use the carpool lane.

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  • Mark Smith May 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    It’s time for an across the board sales tax. 10 percent.

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    • dwk May 14, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Cycling sites are probably the best place to discuss tax policy…
      A 10% sales tax across the board is about the dumbest, most regressive, best way to keep poor people poor tax than I can think of.

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      • David Hampsten May 16, 2017 at 5:30 am

        Except the Portland Arts Tax, of course – a classic poll tax.

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  • john prentice May 14, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    like many higher-income bike riders, i buy frames and build them up.
    so this tax specifically excludes many wealthy folk and soaks lower income people. it’s worse than dumb — **it is malicious**.
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    “many higher-income bike riders”?? Don’t know the data here any more than you do, but I know a lot of bike riders and a grand total of 2 that do what you describe, one higher income, not one.

    Very very very few bike riders buy frames and build them up. Virtually all bike purchases are for fully constructed bikes.

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    • soren May 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      at higher price points the frame is often purchased separately and built up with a drive train of choice (sram, shimano, campy or a mix). so it’s trivial to avoid paying the tax…

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      • SE Rider May 15, 2017 at 4:09 pm

        Where are you getting this idea? It’s almost always cheaper for people to buy a complete bike than to buy a frame and “build it up, due to the price break that you (or rather the shop or bike company) get on gruppos.

        Not to mention that many who are buying a frame to build up are likely doing it online, and not at a local shop. And if you are buying it from a local shop (or even online), people are more likely to have the shop build the bike for them making it a complete bike.

        I would love to hear from a shop like River City or Cyclepath about how many frame-only sales they make a year compared to complete bikes. Usually people with the most money to spend are the ones who have the money to have someone else build their bike (i.e. a complete bike). It’s us poors who are too cheap to pay someone else to do it.

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        • soren May 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

          you are making my point. this tax soaks lower- and middle-income purchasers while subsidizing enthusiasts (and people with more money than sense) who buy $3000+ bikes.

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          • SE Rider May 17, 2017 at 1:35 pm

            Lower income people aren’t buying bikes over $600. They’re buying Walmart-level or used bikes. This would hit many more higher income people who are much more likely to buy complete bikes over $600.

            I would be utterly shocked if Cyclepath or River City sold more than 5% of their bikes over $600 (or even over $3K) as non-complete bikes (i.e. frames).

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            • Dan A May 17, 2017 at 8:35 pm

              If that’s true, I wonder why? I’ve seen folks in trailer parks with some pretty nice cars.

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              • dwk May 17, 2017 at 9:20 pm

                “I’ve seen folks in trailer parks with some pretty nice cars.”

                Trailer parks? Right, you live in a nice suburb.
                I guess, I will view your comments in perspective.
                A regular elitist….

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              • dwk May 17, 2017 at 9:22 pm

                Of course this is moderated as usual.
                Dan A has to pay to get his comments posted.

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              • SE Rider May 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm

                Because most of them don’t value cycling as a viable option of transportation and only really cycle when they have to because they don’t have a car or can’t legally drive. Can’t say I blame them as they’re much more likely to live further away from their work and in neighborhoods with poor cycling infrastructure (something I would hope this tax would attempt to begin to rectify)

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              • Dan A May 18, 2017 at 2:20 pm

                Our son was in an in-home day care in a trailer park when he was a 1 year old. I was surprised one day when our day care provider decided to buy an Escalade.

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              • Dan A May 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

                “Dan A has to pay to get his comments posted.”

                That’s an interesting view.

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    • q May 15, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Maybe people will learn from that higher-end, separate-components approach, and today’s $600 or $800 bike will be tomorrow’s $499 bike, with wheels, seat, etc. sold separately.

      Even at $500, the ability to avoid the 5% tax is the equivalent of getting a free $25 upgrade to your wheels or seat–not trivial.

      The same approach works on a $2000 bike. You’re not avoiding the whole tax ($100) but you might be avoiding $50 that can be pocketed, or applied towards upgrades.

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  • Josh Chernoff May 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

    The best way I can describe the bike tax is that its like taxing people for getting cancer to fund research to find a cure why turning a blind on the companies who gave the public cancer in the first place.

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  • El Biciclero May 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    It’s late now, but one other issue I have with the notion that “bicyclists must pay their fair share” is that it plays right into the oft-mentioned false dichotomy of drivers vs. bicyclists. I’m both, and if a driver ever complains that “I” have my “own” lane that I didn’t pay for, I will invite that driver to get his/her money’s worth by joining me on a bike. I wonder whether someone who might decide to leave the car at home for one day and ride a bike instead would immediately consider themselves a “freeloader”. Or, would they instead feel as though, since they paid for that bike lane, they have every right to use it! If this mythical person subsequently decided that biking wasn’t that bad, and then left the car at home one day a week, two days a week—n days a week, where n <= 7, at what point would they begin to consider themselves a freeloader who wasn't paying their "fair share"?

    Bike lanes are not exclusive infrastructure! ANYONE is free to use them, but most people simply refuse to use the infrastructure that is available to them because they just don’t want to. Bus lanes would be available to everyone, but too many people just refuse to ride the bus. Too many drivers have the mistaken notion that paying for infrastructure like bike lanes, bus lanes, HOV lanes, etc. is “no fair” because I can’t use it. Well, that’s a false restriction. In very few situations is anyone literally unable to use non-car infrastructure; most people just object to “non-car”, and refuse. Well, if you’re going to refuse to use what’s available, why should that be my problem?

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    • q May 15, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Yes to all that. And think of how little each non-biking person would be paying for bike facilities compared to how much, for one example, people without children pay for public schools. Yet most people accept the idea of a large chunk of their taxes going to schools.

      And that’s true even though your argument that’s so true in regard to bike infrastructure–anyone is free to use it–works much less well in regard to schools. You can’t realistically tell much of the tax-paying population “If you don’t think it’s fair to be taxed for schools when you don’t have kids, then why don’t you just go have some children?”

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  • Dan Kaufman May 15, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    We need to get a bunch of folks to ride down to Salem soon.

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    • David Hampsten May 16, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Go to local “town hall” meetings. They’re easier to get to and you’ll enjoy them more.

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  • wsbob May 18, 2017 at 10:42 am

    “…And at the same time, it’s my job to see that through and our best strategy is to work with legislators to reduce the impact of any potential tax where it matters most [keep it focused on off-street paths, exclude kids bikes and low-income people]. We’ll have to weigh the proposal on balance with the rest of the package*.” gerik kransky

    I think kransky has the right idea about the need to be involved in the conversation at the legislative level about efforts to have infrastructure for biking be made better. Revenue somehow…(I’m doubtful that the proposed tax on certain new bikes is a good idea.), tied to specific bike infrastructure projects seems to me like something that would be very important.

    Otherwise, the money may be in danger of turning into a kind of slush fund, with it gradually being whinnied away to all kinds of different projects, with the end result being less and less tangible and worthwhile accomplished.

    I almost wonder whether improvements to practical biking infrastructure might more effectively be accomplished if specific projects were funded in some way similar to how parks districts and school districts call for funds in bond measures on the ballot. Or, as cities do to raise money for urban renewal district development. Those means of revenue generation at least are finite time period strategies. With them, the public doesn’t necessarily have to be saddled, forever, with a tax the public might come to have doubts about.

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  • q May 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I’m thinking if this tax makes sense, it would also make sense to make crosswalks coin-operated. Many already have the buttons to press. They just lack the little slot to put in 25 cents. It would be a perfect way to directly charge the users (pedestrians) who currently freeload off of gas taxes paid by drivers. Money would go to paying for sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians.

    And children would still cross for free, so don’t bring that objection up.

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  • Tired avenger May 26, 2017 at 9:05 am

    I read that as, “no tax on folding bikes” since the wheels are smaller than 26″.

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  • X June 1, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    I ride a bike on Portland streets every day. I’d gladly donate money if it would help get really useful bike infrastructure. Is there a quid pro quo attached to this sales tax? Where’s our Banfield Gulch trail?

    I don’t expect to buy a new bike anytime soon, probably not in the next five years. A sales tax on new bikes will generate no revenue from me at a time when the city is making significant investments, for example the NW Flanders bridge over I-405 and perhaps a bridge over I-84.

    That’s one thing that’s wrong with the sales tax.

    Another problem with the sales tax is that it is easily avoidable by people who do buy bikes. (One category of bike I’m missing is a folding bike with smaller wheels–hmmm) The Portland area has a growing bike industry and the sales tax seems like a petty slap at bike riders with the possible unintended consequence of gutting a growing segment of the local economy.

    Is it a good idea to apply a sales tax to just one item, when a general sales tax is pure poison in this state? The only way you could make this worse would be to require all riders to wear a helmet, and put a 20% sales tax on helmets. I do occasionally buy a helmet so that would mean about $15.00 a year in sales tax revenue from me. How much infrastructure could I get for $15.00?

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