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A TV station interviewed me about the bike tax. Here’s what I said – (Video)

Posted by on July 24th, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Watch the full interview below.

Until last week, I probably expressed more of my thoughts about Oregon’s new bike tax on Twitter than I had here on the blog.

Sometimes when I have a lot to say about a complicated, or sensitive, or generally unwieldy issue, it’s hard for me to organize all my thoughts into coherent sentences (I know, a bad trait for a writer).

So when a KATU (local ABC affiliate) producer reached out last week and asked if I’d be on their Your Voice, Your Vote show, I was happy to oblige. I was on the Sunday morning news show five years ago and had a great experience. Back then the topic was a proposal to license bicycle riders. After both myself and the man proposing the idea had a chance to explain our views in a neutral setting, the proposal went away and was never heard about again (hmm, I wonder why?).

Then and now, I relished the opportunity to explain my views in a calm and professional format with an experienced broadcast journalist as moderator. It’s the opposite of arguing on the Internet.

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Last Thursday I rode down to the KATU studio to have a conversation with Steve Dunn, a respected veteran of the news business who has covered Portland for 30 years. Using his notes from a pre-show interview I did with a KATU producer a few days earlier, Steve and I had a 15-minute chat about the bike tax. He asked good questions and I think the interview is a helpful addition to what I’m sure will be an ongoing discussion.

Watch it below (if the embed doesn’t work, you can watch it here):

As I say in the interview, this tax raises a lot of concerns. It’s important that Oregonians understand what it means beyond the $15 and it’s important for advocates to understand how we got here and what it means going forward.

If you have any questions about this issue you’d like to ask me feel free to do so in the comments and I’ll reply. For more on my views of the bike tax see this article in The Washington Post and listen to this episode of the Outspoken Cyclist Podcast.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

— 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
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rick

I strongly believe that Oregon needs a tax or fee for metal-studded tires for cars. The state of Washington has one. Just yesterday, I saw a person driving a truck with metal-studded tires by Sylvan. More than 83 degrees outside in July.

9watts
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9watts

No luck trying to watch the interview in either of the locations suggested.
Are others able to view it? Maybe something to do with my computer…

BradWagon
Subscriber

I always cringe when people tell me to “ride home safely”… Like, yeah I’m riding a bike in an environment that kills 30k people a year, I am acutely aware of the threat to my safety. But don’t worry I will be overly cautious to subsidize the lack of care exhibited by auto drivers, thanks for the reminder of my secondary status on the road.

Couldn’t ask for a better public voice on the issue Jonathan, sensible and tactful responses. Thank you!

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

We totally need a tax on studded snow tires. Every major road and freeway that hasn’t been recently resurfaced shows the worn ruts from studded tires. I understand that emergency vehicles need the ability to run studs, and the few people who live on very steep hills may as well. Everyone else can get around just fine on studless snow tires. I’ve run studless snow tires for a decade of winters, and have never encountered a situation in which they didn’t work.

Bankerman
Guest
Bankerman

I have been reading this website for years; I have not been on a bike since high school, but I am interested in the topic (yes, I am one of those lazy individuals who drives everywhere).

Reading Jonathan’s last sentence above, and considering all of the similar remarks I have read here over the years regarding the lack of respect for bike riders, a thought comes to mind: what is the bike community doing to reverse this public perception of “scorn and ridicule”? I do not mean this as a flip comment; while I no longer ride a bike, I have no issues with those who do. Many groups, businesses, government agencies, special interest organizations, etc. conduct such campaigns in an effort to improve their public image. However, I am not aware of any organized effort to publicize a positive image of bike commuting.

Ted
Guest
Ted

Well done, Jonathan!

Al
Guest
Al

Well done on the interview, Jonathan. You covered all the major points well and I, for one, am glad to have you as a spokesperson on this topic.

Bankerman makes a good point. Technically, the League of American Bicyclists is the org that should tackle advocacy. I have been an avid cyclists since I found myself to like bicycles more than other kids in the 80’s. While it has been nice for America to finally get on board with the sport thanks to LeMond and later Armstrong, like it or not, there seems to be a backlash against cyclist recently. I’ve suffered pretty much everything from having stuff thrown at me from cars to being run off the road. So, while cycling is much better than it used to be and Oregon is much better than many states I’ve ridden in, I still get honked at now and then and yelled at to get off the road just for pedaling in the bike lane (happened just last week on Stark and 94th which has ample bike lane space).

I think the main points that drivers are missing are:
– cyclists are also drivers
– cyclists are actually saving drivers money and reducing THEIR traffic
– cyclists are saving the state money not only on infrastructure but healthcare

So if the League is delinquent in getting this message across and I think they are, at least in Oregon, then what do we do? Who else can we turn to?

This bicycle sales tax is a warning. We shouldn’t ignore it.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

My favorite part was this bit:

JM: “I don’t know if you ride or not…”

SD: “I do have a bike”

nmr
Subscriber
nmr

Thanks Johnathan, glad to have you speaking for those of us opposed to the tax.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Good interview Jonathan. When I first flipped past the channel I rolled my eyes and thought “ugh… more tired debate about bikes.” Then I realized who was on, and flipped back, and glad I watched. I think Mr. Dunn also did a good job of not being hostile, which is all too often the case.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

Suit jacket and tie by bike, well played! Nice job in the interview.

Bikela Rebate
Guest
Bikela Rebate

So, if I buy a new bike with a plug in rechargeable electric light, can I call it an electric vehicle and collect the $2,500 rebate for 5,000 lbs. Teslas the state passed with the tax on 30 lbs. bikes?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I’m glad you posted this. I caught the last 3 minutes or so while flipping channels on Sunday morning, but was glad to be able to see the rest of your interview.

All good points made, especially the one about it being illegal to spend any of the funds collected from a bike sin tax on anything other that MUPs. To me, that is a slap in the face. It says, “pay us money so we can make a cluttered place for you to go play somewhere else”. It isn’t aimed at getting more people to trade car trips for bike trips—which is the key to congestion relief—it is aimed at getting people who already want to ride a bike not only off the road but away from the road (and any desirable destinations thereon) entirely. If it promotes anything at all it is the notion that bikes are toys, don’t belong on the road, and aren’t worth consideration as a means of transportation. It likely won’t do a thing for congestion, and could merely invite more people to drive their cars to places where “bike paths” exist so they can ride recreationally to nowhere in particular.