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It has begun: Oregon-inspired tax on bicycles spreads to Colorado

Posted by on July 19th, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Ugh.

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…

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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.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @bikeportland on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

118 Comments
  • Jim July 19, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    CA already has a state sales tax, so very doubtful there will be a special tax on bike sales. $15 is NOTHING. It’s a few Peets coffees or beers. It’s very much ado about nothing.

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    • Adam
      Adam July 19, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      If it were a general sales tax, then fine. Specifically targeting bikes, though, makes no sense.

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      • Big Knobbies July 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm

        “Adam
        If it were a general sales tax, then fine. Specifically targeting bikes, though, makes no sense.”

        Why not? They specifically tax cars, big trucks, gasoline, income, etc. Fact is, Ds need more money. They are unwilling to demonstrate leadership necessary to fix the PERS train wreck, so we can expect to see a continuous stream of taxes out of Salem until they’re making enough to pay for PERS. And this is in a proclaimed marginally robust economy – think what it will be like if/when there is a downturn.

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    • JeffS July 19, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      If it’s NOTHING, then you don’t need to have it.

      If it’s NOTHING, then it should not be a law or a tax. If it’s NOTHING, then this legislator should be ridiculed for wasting everyone’s time. My position is the same whether you’re proposing to tax bicycles, golf clubs or tampons.

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    • Dan A July 20, 2017 at 7:17 am

      I’d rather spend $10 a month supporting BikePortland.

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  • N8m July 19, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Let’s tax the daylights out of studded tires and enroll those who purchase them onto work crews that fill potholes. Let’s see that get legislation.

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    • Kevin July 19, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Yes, that’s a really good idea. If we can’t ban them, we should tax them. They do a lot of damage, and most do not need them. If they use them, they should pay. Only fair.

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    • Eric U. July 20, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      we should really increase taxes on trucks,they are the ones that do all the damage and are the driver for roads to be as expensive as they are. I was on a back road that had a poor surface and wondered why. Then a semi drove past.

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      • Big Knobbies July 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        Have you checked into the amount of taxes paid for a typical truck?

        Looks like ballpark $14,000 as of 2007 in state and federal taxes:

        https://www.mackinac.org/8433

        Is that enough? If not, what would you propose that they should pay to transport the products you buy?
        More data:
        http://www.trucking.org/News_and_Information_Reports_Industry_Data.aspx

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      • Big Knobbies July 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

        $13,889 per year in state and federal taxes on trucks isn’t enough?
        https://www.mackinac.org/8433

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        • BrianC July 21, 2017 at 2:31 pm

          I read the article. I agree that $13k/year isn’t nearly enough. If trucks were paying ~$26k/year it would better reflect the true costs of truck traffic. Passenger car costs aren’t nearly enough either…

          Watching the big infrastructure bill move through Salem I kept thinking… We can’t even *maintain* what we currently have. So why are we buying *more* of it?

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    • SE Rider July 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Interestingly, Colorado doesn’t allow studded tires, and their roads are much, much better. Of course they also do WAY more plowing and use road salt in the winter.

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  • George Dorn July 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    $15 really is close to nothing, but if CO adopts the same $200 threshold it could still be the difference between a crappy Walmart bike and a slightly better, more reliable bike.

    It’s a tiny nudge toward crappier bikes for buyers who do care about $15.

    But really, it’s the principle.

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  • Kevin July 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    I am still processing the bike tax and formulating an opinion. I appreciate the coverage you have provided, and I respect your opinion. I don’t like the tax on principle, just like I don’t like the fact the gas tax and auto registration fees pay for only a small portion of the cost of road development and maintenance.

    This gets me thinking of other things I don’t like — such as limiting access to popular outdoor recreation areas due to overuse. As much as I find permitting obnoxious, I understand why it exists, and I support its ultimate objective.

    Which gets me back to the topic at hand. It’s only $15, which frankly won’t stop anyone from buying a bike that is covered by the tax. Maybe in rare cases at the margin, but overall it won’t.

    So what does the tax get us? It gets us “skin in the game,” and “a seat at the table,” apparently. What it doesn’t do is influence the anti-bike sentiment that is prevalent to some in our community. In the near-term they will be anti-bike regardless, although perhaps they will feel a righteous victory in getting cyclists to “pay.”

    But what do we get? We get a pretty good transportation funding package that’s fairly pro-bike, pro-transit and pro-pedestrian. It also gives us some “moral equity” to continue conversations around how cycling is a net benefit to the community.

    How will all this play out across the country? I just don’t know. But perhaps we just may find that we get much more from the tax than we give up at the time of purchase. Perhaps we should look at this not as a loss, but as an inevitability as cycling matures in our country as a viable form of transportation.

    Best,
    Kevin Vandemore

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 20, 2017 at 6:14 am

      Thanks for the comment Kevin. I would love to agree with you, I just see things a bit differently at this stage of the game. Perhaps you are right… but I haven’t seen the prevailing politics or cultural trends around cycling shift in a way that would lead me to believe your rosier outlook.

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      • bikeninja July 20, 2017 at 9:19 am

        I agree with Jonathan that motivations matter just as much as the act itself. If a bicycle sales tax is put in place with the genuine desire by all parties involved to raise revenue not otherwise available to improve the safety and utility of cycling then it might be a good thing, but if it is put in place as collective punishment for a group some see as opposing their retrograde, auto-centric vision of the world than it is not good and should be opposed.

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        • Adam
          Adam July 20, 2017 at 9:31 am

          Politicians in Oregon are so out of touch when it comes to cycling. The bike tax is the most recent quibble, but they also continually refuse to build quality cycling infrastructure, and opt for cheaper infra to serve the already strong riders. The only way we can even build good infrastructure in Oregon is if it’s funded as part of another project like a transit line or a massive brownfield revitalization. This scenario makes bikes the easiest thing to chop off the project to save money.

          We need a dedicated pool of money just for cycling, and not just a percentage of a greater pool like ConnectOregon (which can’t even fund protected bike lanes anyway). We also need politicians that actually get it, who don’t just provide lip service. I used to think Earl was one of the good ones but it seems that even he doesn’t get why a bike tax is a terrible idea.

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          • Matthew in Portsmouth July 20, 2017 at 10:41 am

            I actually oppose earmarked revenue programs (like the gas tax is often touted to be) because that then becomes an excuse not to raise taxes that should raised (e.g. gas tax) or to starve programs of funding when the earmarked tax fails to keep pace with the minimum cost to run the program. I would prefer all taxes be paid into the general fund, and all government programs be paid out of the general fund.

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            • David Hampsten July 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

              Most states in fact pool all revenues into a general fund; Oregon is unusual in setting aside gas tax revenue by law for road projects. The difficulty in pooling resources is when there is a “crises”, such as the upcoming bankruptcy of Oregon PERS pension fund, or god help us, any future Earl Blumenauer memorial freeway bridge over the Columbia River (i.e. CRC), then no revenue will go to road maintenance or bikeways, just prisons, schools, pensions, debt, and pet projects.

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          • wsbob July 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

            “Politicians in Oregon are so out of touch when it comes to cycling. The bike tax is the most recent quibble, but they also continually refuse to build quality cycling infrastructure, and opt for cheaper infra to serve the already strong riders. The only way we can even build good infrastructure in Oregon is if it’s funded as part of another project like a transit line or a massive brownfield revitalization. …” adam

            Oregon politicians are obliged to try keep the state’s budget out of the red. Incidental reports from the news seem to consistently indicate that hardly more than 15 percent of road users are using the roads for biking. Similarly, not much of an increase in taxpaying people are asking for big investments in biking infrastructure. Those aren’t great reasons for politicians to try come up with big plans to spend a lot money so people that don’t want to deal with motor vehicle traffic, can ride on the streets and roads around at 10mph on their cruiser bikes.

            Get more people of the type of rider you’ve said you are, asking for bike infrastructure they’re willing to ride in the dead of winters’ cold and rain, and Oregon’s politicians just might be more inclined to spend more of the state’s budget on that kind of infrastructure.

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    • Matthew in Portsmouth July 20, 2017 at 9:22 am

      I agree too. I also think that the same people who are anti-bike are anti-transit, which is probably why there is no money for light rail in the transport package. Personally, I love using my bike and Trimet in combination to commute. When the weather is good enough, and I don’t have errands/shopping to do that necessitate driving, I take Trimet from N Portland to Clackamas, and cycle home.

      My experience is also that many of the people who hate bicycles clogging up “their” roads, also hate other road users and are the ones cussing out other drivers and generally behaving in the most obnoxious manner possible.

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    • soren July 20, 2017 at 9:36 am

      It gets us “skin in the game,” and “a seat at the table,” apparently.

      do you have any evidence to back up this, dare i say, naive claim?

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      • Kevin July 20, 2017 at 10:42 am

        Hi soren,

        No, of course not. I tried to acknowledge this with my qualifier, which didn’t come across as sardonic as it was typed.

        It’s all rhetoric at this point and perhaps I do have on rose colored glasses, but I want to make the best out of the situation we have. What I know is that the landscape is different now than it was before the bike tax. We owe it to ourselves and our community to push the conversation forward.

        I will keep pushing for active modes of transportation because I believe it’s the best way to support my goal of making our community more sustainable, more livable, and more equal.

        Best,
        Kevin

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        • VRU July 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

          Mainstream democrats supported the bike tax as a sop to conservative democrats/republicans in order to gain their support for the transportation bill. The underlying motivation for this provision was punitive, not constructive. Now that this awful precedent has been set, additional punitive legislation is much more likely when conservatives (democrats and republicans) regain a legislative majority.

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          • Kevin Vandemore July 20, 2017 at 12:08 pm

            I understand what you are saying, but how the tax got here doesn’t change the fact we now have but one option — to move forward. How we do that is what will count.

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            • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm

              “the fact we now have but one option — to move forward”

              Not sure I follow.

              Your post above parrots all sorts of foolish talking points by those who (apparently) don’t understand the sociological and ideological repercussions of this bike tax. If that is what you consider moving forward then I’ll submit that we are not limited to that one option.

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            • Adam
              Adam July 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

              I agree that we should move forward. This bike tax was a step backwards, so to move forward, we should repeal the tax. 🙂

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              • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 12:22 pm

                tempting but I’m afraid very nearly impossible without digging the entirely avoidable hole the tax opened up even deeper. The genie is out of the bottle. If we were to do as you say the symbolic/ideological damage to the popular grasp of how differential modal demands on and contributions to transportation funding work would be untold.

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              • Adam
                Adam July 21, 2017 at 12:33 pm

                At this point, we will have to wait a few years, then point to the likely outcome that this tax did not bring in nearly as much revenue as predicted, and that it causes a noticeable drop (or in the best case, continues the stagnation of) cycling mode shares. However, since this was likely the goal of the GOPers who supported the tax in the first place, I’m not sure how far this approach will go. I mean, they didn’t listen when we pointed out all the reasons this tax was a terrible idea, they surely won’t listen when presented with actual evidence to support our fears.

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      • Adam
        Adam July 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

        I have “skin in the game” because I live in Oregon and deserve safe transportation options. As does everyone else. How much I should pay is irrelevant. In an ideal situation, we’d be collecting revenue and distributing it according to need, not according to who pays the most.

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    • Bay Area rider July 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Yes today the tax is “only” $15 but guess what is going to happen in the future. When the bicycle advocates ask for more money to fund more and better infrastructure then the politicians are going to say “If the current $15 tax isn’t raising enough money for you then we are going to have to raise the tax.” Tomorrow the tax may go from $15 to $30 and then from $30 to $60. Basically every time now that advocates ask for more money for infrastructure in the future then there will be pressure to increase the tax to raise the increase in funding that is wanted. The nose of the camel is under the tent good luck in trying to keep the rest of the camel out of the tent from this point forward.

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      • BrianC July 21, 2017 at 11:45 am

        Hmm – Let’s make a straw man! Sounds like time to license bicyles! How about $60 every two years for each bike! That should raise some funds for those pesky bike projects all of those bike advocates keep whining about…

        Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it…

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    • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      “It gets us ‘skin in the game,’ and ‘a seat at the table,’ apparently. What it doesn’t do is influence the anti-bike sentiment that is prevalent to some in our community.”

      Some people apparently think this, but I am unable to follow this logic at all.
      As I see it, the quote above is just spin.

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  • Adam
    Adam July 19, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Why is a tax on bicycles the only tax that republicans like? They want to cut taxes on everything else. Also, whenever they talk about fairness, I just imagine a toddler stamping their feet shouting “it’s not fair!” Seems like a good metaphore for our political climate.

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    • BrianC July 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Because if you don’t ride a bike – taxing bikes doesn’t impact you! It socks it to those “losers” in society that can’t afford an “appropriate” mode of travel… Like a car!

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    • Big Knobbies July 21, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      In the House vote a lot more Ds voted for it than Rs: 28 Ds for it, 11Rs for it:
      http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35741072-75/oregon-house-passes-3.8-billion-transportation-tax-and-spending-bill.csp

      Similar story in the Senate I suspect with their 22-7 for/against vote; although I could not find the Senate vote count by party. Guess they’re not too proud of it.

      Your Democrat governor will sign it, if she hasn’t already.

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  • mran1984 July 19, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Boats don’t damage the water huh…they sure do when a motor is involved. ***portion of comment deleted due to personal insults***.

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  • rachel b July 20, 2017 at 1:02 am

    “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.”

    Huh? Can he really be that obtuse? Or (more likely) does it just suit him to pretend to be?

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    • Chris I July 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Probably a little bit of both. Deep down, he knows that it isn’t true, but he probably isn’t playing with a full deck of cards, if you know what I mean.

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    • Gary B July 20, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Beyond that, I’m interested in what tax they pay. I know some states require boat registration, but ATVs and snowmobiles? (Genuinely have no idea).

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      • KristenT July 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        I think ATVs and Snowmobiles pay for permits, and of course gas taxes when they have to fuel up.

        I’m not an ATV or Snowmobile person so beyond that, I couldn’t say what taxes there would be. Excise tax on purchase similar to cars?

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      • El Biciclero July 21, 2017 at 12:33 pm

        Colorado Boat Registration (with link to form).

        The thing that isn’t clear is whether only “large” or motorized boats are subject to registration, or whether it includes canoes/kayaks/rowboats as well. There is a checkbox for “sailboat”, which may or may not have a motor, so one could conceivably conclude that canoes or kayaks might just fall into the “other” category and still be subject to reg. Interestingly, ATVs and snowmobiles are covered on the same form at different rates.

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  • Shonn Preston July 20, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Yea, no. I believe their moral agenda(greed) in the face of ever declining gas tax revenue leads the already blind following of the “climate hoax” crowd. They know it won’t last forever. They need to own it or sell it all for a profit before even the frack oil runs out. I believe a small taxing only gives more rhetorical fodder for those who would claim ‘not enough’, and treat cyclists on the open roads with even more disdain. ATV, boats and snowmobiles all rely on trillion dollar infrastructure and war machine obtainment empires. The damage created, sadly is much, much worse than mere carbon offset, petrol sheens or groundwater runoff pollution. It’s death. Death incarnate for the commodifiable autocentric dependent. All roads lead to ruin.

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    • bikeninja July 20, 2017 at 9:12 am

      As “Bill and Ted” would say, ” Im not Worthy”. Can I use “commodifiable autocentric dependent” in my comments too? This is much better than auto zombie as it is much more accurate and descriptive and doesn’t malign the walking dead.

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      • John Lascurettes July 20, 2017 at 11:51 am

        You’re mixing up your pop culture references:
        “[We’re] not worthy” = Wayne’s World
        “Be excellent to each other” = Bill & Ted

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        • BradWagon July 20, 2017 at 4:07 pm

          Ninjas don’t have time for movies John.

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  • Mike Reams July 20, 2017 at 7:02 am

    “how many rights do we give to cyclists that we don’t give to everybody else on the road? ”

    The government does not give you rights. You are born with them. They are part of your humanity. The government may grant you privileges but, never rights.

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    • Pete July 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      But I’m still wondering what is the answer to that rhetorical question, regardless.

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    • wsbob July 21, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      With laws, the government acknowledges rights people have, and puts that into writing for people having difficulty understanding or accepting the existence of these rights.

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  • Ryan Aslett July 20, 2017 at 8:27 am

    I think Im actually a fan of this tax, and Im shopping for a new touring bike right now. I feel like this tax is honestly pretty minor in comparison to all of the other onerous ideas that the angry auto advocates have floated (license plates etc), and that like Kevin said above, it completely removes the phony moral ground they used to stand on that cyclists weren’t paying for the safety and usability upgrades that we have been agitating for. As cyclists we know that we pitch in our fair share to keep the roads maintained, and place a very minor maintenance burden on those roads. But now we at least have some token tax to point to whenever we ask for a protected bike lane or better markings or new separated paths that nullifies that obviously incorrect argument that “if cyclists want better infrastructure, they should have to pay for it”.

    My hope is that this tax, which is estimated to raise about a million a year, will make it much more politically possible to incorporate cyclist focused infrastructure spending that will end up costing more than a million a year. We might actually be getting a good deal here.

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    • Adam
      Adam July 20, 2017 at 11:10 am

      But now we at least have some token tax to point to whenever we ask for a protected bike lane or better markings or new separated paths that nullifies that obviously incorrect argument that “if cyclists want better infrastructure, they should have to pay for it”.

      Because the bike tax money is going into ConnectOregon, it can’t legally be used for protected bike lanes or lane markings. Separated paths, yes, which amount to expensive bike bridges or shared use trails.

      The fact is that that bikes are being taxed to pay for paths that will be too narrow, not in the road where we can access businesses, and that we have to share with people walking.

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      • Gary B July 20, 2017 at 11:52 am

        I think Ryan’s point was that we have a rhetorical rebuttal, not that this fund has to actually pay for request. Much like a driver will say they deserve a wider I5 because they pay for it, we can pretend that our bike tax pays for those bike lanes.

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      • Bjorn July 20, 2017 at 3:51 pm

        Bike bridges, you know that thing that we need when we are trying to cross a freeway that has cut the city in half…

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        • Adam
          Adam July 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

          I’d rather the state spend money on capping I-405.

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    • Doug G. July 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Opponents of bicycle infrastructure will not look at this tax and think that people who bike now have skin in the game. They’ll just move the goal posts. Before the tax it was “Cyclists don’t pay their fair share!” After the tax it will be “Cyclists should only get as much as they put in!” The tax raises $1 million/year? Chances are they’ll say that your state should only spend $1 million/year on bike stuff.

      That’s always been the way. They complain when cyclists break laws and complain when they follow them. Anything that disrupts the status quo will provoke that reaction. There are no easy fixes, and no bones to throw that will appease people who oppose change. There’s only change and moving forward as fast as possible to get over these kinds of debates.

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      • Adam
        Adam July 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm

        Yep, this.

        “Cyclists always run stop signs!”

        “Okay fine, I’ll come to a complete stop at every stop sign.”

        “Ugh, cyclists are always slowing me down!”

        You can never win with the bike detractors. They don’t use logic in their reasoning.

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        • Adam
          Adam July 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm

          Another common exchange:

          “Bikers should just get out of my way!”

          “Okay, what if we built protected cycleways so that bikes have their own space on the road completely separate from motor traffic? That way, they won’t block traffic.”

          “But, how will that benefit me?!”

          “I just told you. They will be out of your way.”

          “But it’s not fair because I pay taxes and they don’t! They must pay, because I pay!”

          “I thought we were talking about blocking traffic?”

          *Driver froths at the mouth*

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          • David Hampsten July 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm

            More likely, from my conversations here with NC public agency staff:

            “Okay, what if we built protected cycleways so that bikes have their own space on the road completely separate from motor traffic? That way, they won’t block traffic.”

            Staff: “Bicycles should be riding on parallel streets. Cars are moving to fast from a lack of police enforcement, which we have no control over. It’s for their own safety. Our policies fully comply with North Carolina Vision Zero statewide policies.”

            “But bicycles are vehicles, the users need safe access to local businesses, places of employment, and their homes.”

            Staff: “Legally bicycles may be vehicles, but they are most commonly used as recreational vehicles, as most users view bicycling as a sport, rather than as a form of transportation. Most road users, including most bicyclists we’ve talked with, believe they should be restricted to bike paths, parks, local residential streets, and streets with bike lanes. For busy streets without bike lanes, they should be using sidewalks for local business access.”

            “What if there are no sidewalks?”

            Staff: “Then they should report the lack of sidewalks to our agency app for creating work orders. Sidewalks will then be studied, and designed and built if deemed necessary and as funding becomes available.”

            “When will that be?”

            Staff: “Soon. In the next 5-7 years. It depends upon funding from the state and local jurisdictions. We are confident that the legislature will fund such projects.”

            Yeah, right, like they do in Oregon…

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      • wsbob July 21, 2017 at 7:40 pm

        “Opponents of bicycle infrastructure…” doug g

        Who do you think are these ‘opponents of bike infrastructure’, not just here in Oregon, but across the nation? And why do you think they may have the pull they do on, I think, the many people, both ordinary citizens and those working in government, that are supportive of biking as a crucially importantl aid to resolving road congestion in many cities throughout the nation?

        Oregon now has its little token new bike tax, which is not a big deal, and if nothing else good ever comes of it, has opened the opportunity for vigorous discussion about why expansion in travel infrastructure for not just biking, but for other active forms of transportation as well, is essential for the viable future of the U.S. A sad fact is, I’m afraid that over the last thirty or forty years, not enough people have worked hard enough to present biking in a way that displays the potential it has as a positive element in meeting day to day travel needs of the nation’s population.

        If it had happened over the last thirty or forty years that biking had successfully been proven to be a great means of reducing or at least holding back the overwhelming of streets and roads during daily commute hours, would the general public be passively allowing government to be nicking people for spare change when they buy a new bike? I doubt it. They, the general public, would be patting the shoulders of every person on a bike that endures nasty, dark, wet cold winters, during the commute, encouraging them to keep going, saying things like ‘Hey, hang in there, keep going! Here’s a few bucks…get yourself a hot chocolate on us!’

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        • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm

          “If it had happened over the last thirty or forty years that biking had successfully been proven to be a great means of reducing or at least holding back the overwhelming of streets and roads during daily commute hours, would the general public be passively allowing government to be nicking people for spare change when they buy a new bike? I doubt it.”

          This would in other times and places be called leadership, foresight, planning. We never seem to have much of it to spare.
          I’ll ask you why you think many, many other countries did not opt to go for having the cheapest gas, did not labor under the mistaken assumption that by having the cheapest gas we’d gain a competitive advantage? Now look who’s ahead. How well that gamble worked out for us. We all have gas guzzlers parked in our double garages, and wide, crumbling roads and no meaningful experience relying on other modes. Our transport resilience in the face of looming threats is dreadful, worse probably than any other country’s.

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          • wsbob July 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm

            I’d like to hear from Doug G, but as to your question about other countries’ choices compared to those made in the U.S., I think the true answer is much more complicated than some people would like to think it is. Different circumstances, unique to each country, bring them to the choices they make.

            Here in the U.S. in the countries’ big metro areas, gradually, over future decades, there likely will be a continuation of land use and community planning, with corresponding travel infrastructure planning that will be designed to handle travel needs of a greater population density. This transformation is still in its early stages though. The U.S. is still mostly the nation of wide open spaces, where most people regard the motor vehicle as the number one travel option.

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            • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 9:10 am

              “Different circumstances, unique to each country, bring them to the choices they make.”

              A common retort. But I think this is mostly a copout, a way to suggest that we are somehow uniquely incapable of emulating these elegant solutions, stuck with the suboptimal circumstances we’re familiar with without actually examining what could be done.

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    • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      “it completely removes the phony moral ground they used to stand on that cyclists weren’t paying for the safety and usability upgrades that we have been agitating for.”

      No matter how many folks here repeat this, it won’t be any more true for the repetition. Just like a lie out of #45’s orange mouth repeated twenty times is still a lie.

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  • Buzz July 20, 2017 at 8:48 am

    Anyone who actually believes this is a good thing is deluded, and that includes Earl Blumenauer. Anyone who actually believes this will somehow ‘legitimize’ cycling to non-cyclists is even further deluded.

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    • David Hampsten July 20, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      I enjoy being deluded, it counteracts my naivete. And you have to be very naive to keep doing bicycle advocacy as long as I have.

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  • drew July 20, 2017 at 9:04 am

    This bike tax nonsense could end if Trump would tweet: “the notion that drivers “pay for the roads” and are not heavily subsidized is Fake News”.

    The government SAVES money with each mile biked instead of driven. The false sense of motorist entitlement has been a hundred years in the making, and will not be easily reversed.

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    • rick July 20, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Did he build only parking garages or rebuild a city that had been vacated in the 1970s and 1980s? http://nypost.com/2016/02/07/how-donald-trump-helped-save-new-york-city/

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      • Spiffy July 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        I’m surprised it’s not titled “How Trump caused gentrification in NY”…

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      • Big Knobbies July 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        rick,
        Wow! Thanks for the link to that outstanding article listing many of his major accomplishments in NYC. Trump is an outstanding American and his life should inspire all of us. It’s wonderful, after 8 years of darkness, to see someone in the WH who loves the country, loves Americans, and has done so much to help his home town of NYC. He does not need the president job – he’d have been far better off personally and financially to stay out of politics, but because he loved America and the opportunities it gave to him and his family he wanted to give back so he made the sacrifice – working for $1 per year. Given the chance he will be one of our greatest presidents.

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        • Adam
          Adam July 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

          You’re still here?

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          • Big Knobbies July 21, 2017 at 1:23 pm

            A,
            Yup, I’m still here. Are you still crying about the election?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNbF9PI9Gjo

            🙂
            🙂
            🙂

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            • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 1:24 pm

              I think we may get the last laugh. It’s only been six months….

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              • Big Knobbies July 21, 2017 at 6:01 pm

                You may be right, I hope not of course. But, while we wait for the final verdict, let’s help Rachel get to 100,000,000 views. Only have 7.5 more years to giterdone.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut0TaegQ-kw

                🙂

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              • 9watts July 24, 2017 at 9:11 am

                You’re on a first name basis with this television personality?

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        • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

          …and you one of our greatest commenters here.

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        • wsbob July 21, 2017 at 7:14 pm

          “…He does not need the president job – he’d have been far better off personally and financially to stay out of politics, but because he loved America…” b knobbies

          You mean the sitting president, or maybe more aptly, ‘the tweeting president’, the guy said not to be much into reading, but big on watching tv? That guy? Oh. I’d like to think he is more than a little aware that he actually has been elected pres of the U.S., and isn’t simply starring in some tv show. If every once in awhile, he’d actually do something, that suggested the bearing and wisdom of someone qualified to be president of this country, that would be wonderful. I’m glad you’re happy with him, knobbies.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth July 20, 2017 at 9:30 am

    My biggest concern with these bicycle only sales taxes (and that’s what they are) is that they become the only source of revenue that the government is allowed to spend on bicycle infrastructure. When the windbags talk about registration of bicycles, do they intend to adopt the same model as autos? That is, when I buy a new bike (or a used one) I register the serial number (~VIN) with DMV, they issue a title to me. When my bike is stolen, will law enforcement make any effort to investigate the theft or recover my bike? Will more resources be put into cutting down bike theft? I think not.

    Those who complain about cyclists are generally not logical, or consistent. They are arguing from a position of prejudice and they won’t change until they remove the scales from their eyes and have a paradigm shift.

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  • Chris I July 20, 2017 at 9:43 am

    This is nothing new. Lawmakers in several states have proposed bike taxes or licensing requirements. They always fail, and local news stations always use the “story” to write clickbait articles.

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    • GlowBoy July 20, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      “They always fail”.

      Apparently, not anymore.

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  • GlowBoy July 20, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Now that Oregon has given it political cover, this terrible idea is likely to spread across the country quickly. What do you want to bet a lot of states won’t exempt bicycles under $200?

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    • Big Knobbies July 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Fortunately most of us only live in one state at a time……….

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  • Dave July 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

    I believe it will be in at least twenty states within two years–gonna spread like VD in a swingers’ club.

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  • Al July 20, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Perhaps someone could help me out here but I am now suspicious that this bicycle sales tax got the cycling community exactly NOTHING! That’s right, other than paying the tax, nothing else appears to have changed. Therefore, there won’t be ANY additional bicycling infrastructure as a result of the tax. Hear me out.

    – Before the tax: You apply for your bicycle infrastructure project to get funded by Connect Oregon.
    – After the tax: You apply for your bicycle infrastructure project to get funded by Connect Oregon.

    See the difference?

    Yeah, me neither. So how is the extra revenue, which accounts for single digit percent increase in Connect Oregon’s budget going to expand cycling infrastructure over and above what Connect Oregon was already willing to fund ????

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    • Big Knobbies July 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Al,

      It’s not. The state is in CYA mode. In an attempt to save PERS they are going to nickel and dime us every time we take a breath until we have no more nickels and dimes to take. 😉

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      • Al July 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm

        I fail to see how this has anything to do with PERS though. Please explain.

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        • Big Knobbies July 20, 2017 at 3:23 pm

          The state budget is in the hole largely due to irresponsible management of PERS. They want every penny they can get from ANYWHERE.

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  • Bjorn July 20, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Why not a special tax on shoes? Makes more sense really.

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  • Spiffy July 20, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    I agree with Scott…

    we should not tax snowmobiles, ATVs, and boats that are pedal-powered… they should be on par with bikes due to their lack of motor…

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  • KristenT July 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    So here’s the part that really irks me, and I’ll quote it so it can irk you too:

    “how many rights do we give to cyclists that we don’t give to everybody else on the road? ”

    Uh…. none. Cyclists have the same rights (and responsibilities) as other vehicle operators and pedestrians and etc etc etc. Cars, trucks, bikes, foot traffic– we all have rights and responsibilities. I would suggest that we give more rights (i.e. preferential treatment) to motorized vehicles than to people using other modes of transportation.

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    • Doug G. July 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      It sure sounds a lot like when people complain about any kind of out group getting “special rights” when in actuality all people want are the same rights as everyone else.

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      • John Lascurettes July 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        People operating motor vehicles don’t have rights as operators, they have privileges. People using roads, however, have the right of freedom of movement (as in, “about the country”). But the freedom of movement does not equal freedom to drive. Most people fail to understand this.

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        • 9watts July 21, 2017 at 12:20 pm

          “Most people fail to understand this.”

          Which is kind of amazing since 34 cents of every property tax dollar in Multnomah County goes to education….

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      • Big Knobbies July 20, 2017 at 8:07 pm

        Like these folks, right?
        http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/07/20/nhs-discrimination-breast-surgery-trans/

        And that’s from progressive Britain.

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        • KristenT July 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

          I like to get my news from reputable sources. Do you have something on this from the BBC?

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    • Pete July 21, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Count me sufficiently irked over that as well. Was trying to think of one…

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    • wsbob July 22, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      “…I would suggest that we give more rights (i.e. preferential treatment) to motorized vehicles than to people using other modes of transportation. …” kristen t

      If you’re saying, that you feel, the use of road infrastructure by people driving, is given greater prioritization than is given to people traveling the road by means other than motor vehicles, I’d probably say ‘That’s true’, because driving is the mode of travel by which the vast majority of people meet their travel needs, and one of the very top modes of travel by which goods and services are distributed to where they’re needed across the U.S. That makes driving, a fundamental component of the country’s economy.

      If you really are meaning to say “preferential treatment”, rather than something meaning ‘prioritization’, I’d have to think some to have an idea of how and in what situations that’s true.

      Generally, I think taxes on bikes are not a good idea. Also though, I think the fact they’ve been able to garner so much support, probably is due to people biking and believing biking to be a mode of travel, essential to enabling the road system to meet the travel needs of people in the U.S., are not doing a good enough job to sustain a clear understanding of this, across the public.

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  • X July 20, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    In the next ten years I expect that the state of Oregon will collect perhaps $15.00 from me by means of this sales tax. That’s how much I spent for lunch today, as it happens. I ride bikes on the road all the time. Besides the really bad symbolic meaning of this measure, a buck fifty a year isn’t going to get me anything useful. Sad and stupid.

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  • Jim July 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    As always, your put this in the crucible, reduce it down to its most basic element, and it comes to “Waa, I don’t wanna.” No amount of red herrings or deflections will change that.

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  • X July 21, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    I’d pay a lot for something real. I’d pay a hundred bucks a year for TriMet to go fareless (which would save me about $30 that I spend on tickets now). I’d pay $500 right now to get a bike freeway through Sullivan’s Gulch out past I-205. That’s my idea of a world-class bike facility which would put Portland (and Oregon) back on the map as a place that supports cycling for transport. I’m not unwilling to pay, but I am against a false symbolic action that doesn’t raise enough money to matter, makes us a laughingstock to everybody who cares about bikes or transit anywhere _and_ can only have a negative effect on our local bike industry.

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    • Y July 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      A monthly pass is $100.

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      • X July 22, 2017 at 9:05 am

        As a citizen, I’d be happy to pay $100 more in taxes if that was the cost of making transit fareless. Not everybody buys a monthly transit pass. Unfortunately we don’t get to decide where our taxes go. And speaking of taxes, when do studded tire users start to “put some skin in the game?”

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        • Y July 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm

          Yeah, I get it. I was just saying that a year’s worth of transit is about $1,200 at the current cost of a monthly pass, and not $100. Now, it would be wonderful if we broadened the base and had all individuals (taxpayers, however you want to define it) in the metro area pay a $100 transit fee/tax/surcharge to make the systems free for all. That would wonderful and a heck of a deal (for the sake of this discussion I didn’t calculate out the cost/person based on TriMet’s operating budget and the number of people in the transit district. I just used the figure put forth.)

          Studded tires? Good question — the tire lobby?

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  • DIMcyclist July 22, 2017 at 12:09 am

    ““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.” – Scott

    Is Mr. Conservative Dufus saying that our legal rights (and road safety) exist only on a pay-as-you-go basis? That only whoever pays for them has legal rights? If that’s the case, maybe NRA-types should pay for their right to bear arms on a per-gun or per-bullet basis. No? Awww geee!

    Of course, Scott’s political weak point here is that- as a Tea Party conservative- he MUST stand for abolishing as much taxation & regulation as possible. He can be hit for daring to try to impose a new tax & new regulation on individual freedom.

    Funny thing about right-wingers; they all too often don’t see how vulnerable they are to their own arguments.

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  • Peter W July 23, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Let’s start a national crowd funding campaign to remove from office the next official who suggests such a silly idea (the one that says people who bike need to pay for the infrastructure which gets them away from cars trying to kill them).

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    • El Biciclero July 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

      “…a silly idea (the one that says people who bike need to pay for the infrastructure which gets them away from cars trying to kill them).”

      “Silly”? I still say this has been a very lucrative idea for many “families”: “Ya know, tings is gettin’ pretty dangerous around here, if ya knowhattimean. It’d be a shame for anyting to happen to youse. Fortunately for you, I have a very, uh, inexpensive protection plan of which youse can take advantage—for a small weekly fee, me an’ my pals here can see to it that no, uh, tragedy befalls you or your property here…Or, you can, uh, take your chances [shrug] and hope you get lucky [winks at ‘pals’]…”

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  • BeavertonCommuter41 July 23, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I support the State doing more to provide safe biking facilities, including protected bikeways; however, I’m not sure where it falls in among the State’s spending priorities.

    I hate taxes like these, i.e., user taxes, for infrastructure because roadways, like water and sewer, public safety, are a public good, in the classic economic sense. This is why governments typically have been responsible for the provision of these things. Which means that the State’s general collection of taxes would be used to pay for these things.

    Unfortunately, at all levels of government, we have permitted government to get too big and to do too much. There is no much spending going on at both the State and local levels that if we were to pare back the expanse of government spending on things that the government ought not be involved in, there’d be plenty of money to not just improve the condition of our public infrastructure, but also increase and enhance safe biking facilities which ought to be considered part of the government’s core transportation responsibilities.

    For example, By 2015, the State had doled out nearly $1 billion in energy business incentives. Why is the State in the business of attempting to pick energy winners and losers? The State has clearly demonstrated that it’s not very good at being venture capitalists, but here it is trying to pick these energy winners. Stop.

    The State spent $64 million on the Oregon Sustainability Center that clearly has no utility in providing actual services to state residents. Another $40 million for state employee travel that clearly does not provide a service to state residents.

    When you add these and hundreds of other “spending” projects up, there’s gobs of cash simply being wasted on the vanity of the Governors and State Legislators.

    It’s time to downsize the State’s government, rein in State spending, and get back to core services before we tax cyclists.

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    • 9watts July 23, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      “because roadways, like water and sewer, public safety, are a public good, in the classic economic sense.”

      Your equating roads with water and sewer provision and public safety is a familiar one, but I’m not so sure. The demands placed on the roads in question vary by several orders of magnitude, depending on the vehicle. I don’t think this variance translates well into those other realms you mentioned.
      And then there’s the (admittedly late) realization that cars are not long for this world (= public bad), which further complicates the approach you’re defending.

      “This is why governments typically have been responsible for the provision of these things. Which means that the State’s general collection of taxes would be used to pay for these things.”

      Taxes have in the past been used to pay for all sorts of questionable things. The time has come to re-evaluate whether autos-only infrastructure is still a sound investment, or if it is going to saddle us with stranded assets.

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  • Y July 23, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    BeavertonCommuter41
    For example, By 2015, the State had doled out nearly $1 billion in energy business incentives. Why is the State in the business of attempting to pick energy winners and losers? The State has clearly demonstrated that it’s not very good at being venture capitalists, but here it is trying to pick these energy winners. Stop.
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    One would presume to kindle well-paid jobs, and all the taxes that come with a profitable endeavor.

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