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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.”

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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 jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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rick
Guest
rick

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

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

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.)

BB
Guest
BB

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

dwk
Guest
dwk

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.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

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.

Mary
Guest
Mary

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.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

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

SD
Subscriber

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?

BrianC
Guest
BrianC

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

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.

HJ
Guest
HJ

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.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

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.

m
Guest
m

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

JL
Guest
JL

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.

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

“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.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

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

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

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.

Shit Sandwich
Guest
Shit Sandwich

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.

Ben
Guest
Ben

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?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

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.

Adam
Guest
Adam

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 (http://oregonbikelist.com/list) 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.

m
Guest
m

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.
Recommended 1

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.

SD
Subscriber

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.

q
Guest
q

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.

q
Guest
q

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.

The eBike Store
Guest

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?

Andrew Margeson
Guest
Andrew Margeson

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.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

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?

q
Guest
q

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

rick
Guest
rick

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

John Liu
Subscriber

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.

q
Guest
q

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

q
Guest
q

Will tandem bikes be exempt up to $1000?

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

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.
https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages/vehicle/plateregular.aspx

Susan
Guest
Susan

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!

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

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?

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

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

David
Guest
David

Adam H.
Hahaha! You must not have ever met a politician.
Recommended 2

FTFY

SD
Subscriber

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

Mark Smith
Guest
Mark Smith

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

john prentice
Guest
john prentice

soren
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**.
Recommended 1

“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.

Josh Chernoff
Guest

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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?

Dan Kaufman
Guest
Dan Kaufman

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

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

q
Guest
q

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.

Tired avenger
Guest
Tired avenger

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

X
Guest
X

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?