After learning about Oregon’s new tax on bicycles, a lawmaker from Colorado says he wants to do the same thing.
ColoradoPolitics.com has reported that “influential” Republican Ray Scott (Grand Junction) wants to introduce his own bike tax bill.
“We will be proposing something similar. They use the roads also,” Scott reportedly posted on his Facebook page after reading a story about the tax in the Washington Times.
As part of his rationale, Scott says other types of vehicles pay a tax so it’s an issue of fairness. “If we’re not going to tax bicycles, then let’s not tax boats, ATVs and every other vehicle out there that already pay all these taxes… how many rights do we give to cyclists that we don’t give to everybody else on the road? I’m asking.” When someone reminded him that bicycles don’t damage the roads, Scott replied, “Snowmobiles don’t hurt the snow, ATV’s don’t hurt the dirt, boats don’t hurt the water and they pay a tax, maybe we should eliminate those taxes.”
So here we go.
Oregon’s “innovative” lawmakers have opened a Pandora’s box of bad bike policy that will influence politicians all over America. Get ready for a wave of bike tax proposals — that will likely be even more onerous that Oregon’s. Here’s why…
Oregon’s tax didn’t just happen overnight. It was the result of a political environment that took years to form: Starting around 2009, Oregon’s largest bicycle advocacy group, The Street Trust, became more conservative and opted to go-along to get-along instead of fighting hard against the tax; and recommendations for a bike tax came from unexpected and respected places — like Metro, Portland City Club, and the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel — well before the legislative session even began.
I believe many Oregon lawmakers, members of the Oregon Transportation Commission, and a significant amount of Oregon Department of Transportation staff genuinely like bicycling and understand it’s role and value to our system and our state. Can the same be said for policymakers in Florida? Or California? Or Colorado?
What happens when this idea takes hold in places that aren’t as bike-friendly as Oregon? In places that don’t have as strong of a bike-friendly buffer against the (often plainly anti-bike) inclinations of powerful politicians?
It appears we’re about to see.
Sorry Colorado. Sorry America.
UPDATE: A Denver TV station has also reported on Scott’s idea. “Maybe it should be a license plate? What do you think?,” they report him posting on Twitter in a story titled, No more ‘free rides’. And don’t miss this new article in The Washington Post: Bicyclists fear Oregon’s controversial bike tax could spread.