Bike tax coming to a city near you!!
I think cycling tax is dumb. Here's why. By building multi-modal roads, you are providing access to all in your communities, something that should be required anyway.
By doing that, you make your communities more attractive. This brings people in, drives local businesses and spending, etc.
The added cost to add employees to run your tax program on bikes/bicyclists would probably cost as much, if not more than the revenue it would generate, leaving you in the same place (or worse) before you started to tax cyclists.
Need more revenue? Try this: Enforce auto traffic laws. Particularly ones that are supposed to keep cyclists safe. One here in Pittsburgh comes to mind - PA has had the safe passing 4 foot law for over a year now, and city cops have only handed out one citation that I'm aware of. This law is routinely violated in the city limits, along with others, such as speed limits, turning on red, u-turns, and no other end of issues.
Oh noes. I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid.
The Colorado Springs plan is actually pretty common-sense. Chicago's proposed annual fee? Not so much. With that said, a modest tax on the purchase of bikes and accessories makes some sense.
I've thought for some years now that the Pittman-Robertson tax should be expanded to cover equipment for ALL outdoor recreation activities that occur on public land. This would include car camping, backpacking, mountain biking, paddling, etc. It would increase funding for wildlife conservation, as hunting decreases in popularity and these other activities increase due to demographic changes. It would also serve to further legitimize mountain bikers as a user group of public land (possibly even on properties where bikes are currently prohibited).
A similar tax on road/city/urban bikes would improve funding for bike facilities in the city. But it has to be done intelligently, or it will drive business AWAY from local businesses, and DIScourage use. I gotta say, a $25 annual tax (really, it's just another way of attempting to license cyclists) from the city on riding my bike would piss me off to no end. A 0.5% or flat tax on the purchase of items I'd already be buying wouldn't bother me.
Isn't taxing cyclists like a reverse carbon tax? I know very few cyclists who don't also own cars (one to be exact) so it's not like we don't pay road taxes in addition to the income and sales taxes we pay. As I see it, cyclists cause less pollution, wear on roadways, noise, etc. On the other hand they do need a place on the road (usually beside a car) or sidewalk that has the snow cleared, but so do wheelchair users. Are we going to impose a special tax on the mobility impaired to pay for all the sidewalk cut outs? Tipping the balance, statistically we're less apt to burden the public healthcare system with chronic illnesses because we're generally less prone to obesity, smoking and diabetes. I read some time back that Chris King gives it's employees some type of credit for riding, maybe Chicago should try that to lower the traffic congestion and other problems related to high amounts of vehicle traffic, they can't raise sales tax any higher because it's already the highest in the country.
It's an imperfect situation all around, really. If cycling facilities were sufficient to keep riders safe, and pedestrian facilities were sufficient to keep pedestrians safe, we wouldn't be needing to find ways for more. Ideally, "preferred" uses should be untaxed, with taxes increasing both by size/weight of vehicle as well as the number of miles driven.
But it would take an enormous effort to change the mentality that currently values cars more than bicycles in cities. That mentality is not going to be changing anytime soon in the US until it becomes prohibitively expensive for more people to drive cars.
I think you're (unfortunately) right on the money with your last comment. Some years back a high ranking British official was fired for commenting that the solution to traffic jams in London was traffic jams in London (insinuating that people will quit driving in downtown London only when it becomes impossible). Of course, she was correct, but that didn't make her opinion popular.
Seems like all a tax would do is decrease the number of bikes out there. My roommate bikes to work maybe 6 times a year in the summer and a few times to the store. People like him would probably just stop riding entirely rather than pay an annual fee.
I think the issue with a purchase tax is where it ends up placing the burden. I would support a purchase tax it but only as a percentage tax or only on relatively higher end, maybe $500+ bikes and then on some parts. If it were a yearly tax it would have to have some kind of income waiver. I live right on the edge of an area that has a high % of low income residents. There are guys around here collecting scrap metal in bike trailers or cans in garbage bags they hold on their handlebars. Some of these folks dont have any transportation other than their bike. As much as I will complain about the cold I have seen some people toughing it out without good gear and I wouldnt support anything that would make it more difficult for them to get around.
I would also love to see more enforcement of traffic laws for everyone as a way to generate revenue. If the drivers (and cyclists as well) were always doing what they were supposed to there would be less need for bike specific infrastructure.
Last edited by scubaklook; 12-26-2013 at 04:34 PM.
I would be wiling to pay a tax to the county on bike equipment I bought even on line. I would object to paying it to support either the next town over (closest LBS) or Madison, WI or wherever I order stuff from when I don't ride there. I also own a lawn tractor and leaf blower. Maybe $40 of road taxes there. Reclaiming the road tax is such a PITA, I don't bother. They don't have enough police to do squat about blatant driving infractions unless there is an accident. "He was distracted" Really means I can't be bothered to write him up because he didn't actually hit you. So no way they'd enforce an annual license fee unless you were in an accident.
I like Nate's idea of sporting goods tax if the funds went to the state level with appropriate project pools allowances for it to be used on federal lands in state (to keep it out of Washington's hands unless designated to a particular park). A sticker for voluntary donations to the pool of funds would be a good way for activists to put their money where their mouths are and to point to when motorists say you aren't paying your way. That would be a great way to pay your share of an out of state purchase that was not taxed. Maybe a voluntary program initiated by cyclists in high bike population areas could be the start of something good that could expand to their states and go national.
This quote says it all:
"... thanks in part to a city so serious about accommodating them that it deploys mini-snow plows to clear bike lanes....
The snow-clearing operation is just the latest attention city leaders have lavished on cycling,..."
"Lavished", really? When was the last time you heard plowing a road for cars talked about like a luxury?
When bikes are really considered transportation, and we have limited access toll roads for speedy bike-only travel, I will be happy to pay. In the meanwhile, they should be paying us for reducing congestion, air pollution, and wear and tear on the roads compared to motor vehicles.
just need someone with the balls to sue the city for double-taxing them since their municipal taxes pay for snow removal anyways.
If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!
If the facilities were even close to equal we could have a talk about bike taxes, but unless Chicago is some bicycle utopia (I've only been there a couple times, so going off memory) Chicago doesn't deserve to even think about taking extra money from cyclists. To me it looks like cyclists are becoming the latest scapegoat for incompetent politicians and idiot members of the public to blame for tax/road/gov't/etc problems.
In most cities people are complaining about a lack of parking, 1 vehicle parking space can easily accommodate 10 bicycles. So I'd say that alone makes cyclists something you want more of, so call us even on the taxes.
And pedestrians should pay a tax on shoes and here's a good one - our councils and guvmnts are talking about a tax on water estimated to have fallen on your property - not because of the public impact of handling runoff from said water (even cumb dunts know that's what rates are for), but because people saving water in tanks are costing money to the public water utilities!
On one side we have bureaucrats supping and sipping on finest lunches while working hard at dreaming up new ways to tax us to pay for their excesses and on the other we have a user group so innocuous and semi-educated, we actually get together to discuss how it may be a good idea!
It's like listening to the anti-immunisation lobby. There are no half truths in fact. A tax is a tax and it WILL NOT keep you safe on the road. It will, however, pay for some lovely lunches and overtime bonuses in council and parliamentary offices.
So I'm reading all these posts and I'm thinking about the Tokyo Rail Station where I saw hundreds of thousands of bikes with no padlocks and of an article I read where the Dutch have to remove stolen bikes from rivers to keep them navigable and I think about the contrast of governments. In Japan, bike thieves can be held for 23 days without formally being charged (based on possession). In Holland, who knows? So here's my idea. Let's start treating bike theft like theft. Let's add a standard "recovery fee" to convictions for theft (regardless of the Bike's value) and to Pawn shops who receive stolen bikes. Currently, if a pawn shop (most states) buys a stolen bike the owner must pay the pawn ticket to recover the bike. It should be the other way around. If Thieves and "Fences" pay the victim for their loss and pay a fine/tax to local government it creates a win/win.
IN 09 San Francisco determined that the cost to run such a operation would be more then the revenue produced. What theses cities should be talking about is congestion & parking pricing strategies.
wrt the topic of plowing, specifically, here in Indianapolis, most of the bike lanes get plowed as part of the regular plowing process, using the same plows. The greenway paths get plowed using the smaller ones, but bikes probably constitute less than half of the users of those, anyway. And, it's done by the city parks dept, not the DOT.
I wouldn't call Chicago a bicycle utopia, but it does rank highly for bicycle use compared to other midwestern cities. I have several friends who live there and most do at least some of their commute trips by bicycle, and one of them is a lawyer (a young lawyer, who while he's on the lower end of the pay scale, still does fairly well for himself and could probably afford to drive if he wanted).
Right now, it seems that whether a city has a respectable network of bicycle commuting facilities has more to do with whether a particular mayor makes it a priority or not than whether it's considered to be important overall. At least across most of the country. Some cities like Portland, OR, have been working on bicycle facilities for many years so it has mostly weathered the vagaries of the political cycle. Here in Indy, though, attention to the bicycle as transportation has largely been associated with the current mayor exclusively. I am concerned what will happen with the current plan to build out bike lanes in the city when this mayor is no longer in office. Will the next guy in office hate bicycles so much that he rips out bike lanes like Toronto's mayor? Will the next mayor be indifferent, and stop the progress with the plan?
The current mayor has made it a priority by emphasizing that bicycle facilities attract young, educated, and talented people to build the economy of the city. That seems to be well supported by several studies, but it takes a longer view of things. It's not necessarily going to reap immediate rewards. What if the next mayor lacks this long view and instead dwells on immediate things that can be done during a term or two that can affect the city's pocketbooks?
Creating a completely new tax with a new administration would definitely not make financial sense unless bicycle use was high enough that the income generated was substantially higher than the costs of administration. That's true. But by structuring it as a sales tax on purchases puts it into an existing taxation framework that does not create a need for an entirely new administration.
The risk, though, is that the taxation within just a particular city's limits encourages people to shop elsewhere to avoid the tax. Going to a shop in a neighboring city/town that lacks the tax. Shopping online at merchants that don't collect said taxes. Etc. People are already doing a lot of their shopping online to avoid sales taxes.
The concept of making it a statewide tax does help to avoid the whole driving to the next town to visit a shop that does not have the tax, but mostly not the online shopping thing...until online retailers are required to collect sales taxes for the location of the purchaser (some online retailers like Amazon would like for this to happen).
There's nothing wrong with discussing stuff like this. There are certainly varying degrees of intelligent taxation, and plenty of examples of outright stupid taxation. The real question here is whether there is ANY reasonable sort of taxation possible for issues like this, or not. I'd suggest that reasonable taxation is possible, especially as cities with varying existing financial burdens try to improve/update their transportation networks to accommodate bicycles.
"It's not a new idea. The Netherlands, where a cycling lifestyle has long been the norm, had bike taxes from 1924 to 1941, when the Nazis did away with it in a gesture meant to win over the Dutch."
so if you're opposed to bicycle taxes, you're a Nazi!
Godwin's Law holds true once again
Originally Posted by mack_turtle
Being "pro" or "anti" anything doesn't constitute direct correlation with other sets of beliefs. I'm anti-cycling taxes, but not that way to win over the Dutch, hence my status as a non-Nationalist Socialist remains intact.
Originally Posted by mack_turtle
I posted something like this on my local forum.
"I realize the idea of being taxed for riding a bicycle sounds crazy. We are taxed in so many ways, it's unbelievable. However, I can see all sides of the argument.
First, I would like to comment on what the city of Chicago has done. Dailey, who started the bicycling programs did a wonderful job. After Rahm Emanuel, became mayor. I was surprised at his willingness to continue on and expand those efforts to make it his own.
This, at a time when the city is in such financial turmoil. Yet, they continue on...
We have a wonderful bike system in place that's second in the nation. Safe cycling zones, more and more bike paths and cycling lanes. In my mind, a small price to pay to keep those efforts going.
Sure, we are already taxed for one thing or another. However,unlike other tax generated programs, this link shows that your money is being wisly spent and has really helped to grow cycling around Chicago."
Bikeways | Chicago Complete Streets
Where there is a hill, there's a way!
I would like to add this thought...
It seems there are plenty of cities around the world that don't want cyclists on any of it's streets. They do whatever ever is necessary to prevent cyclists from enjoying simple pleasures of riding. Some jump out and lash...roads were ment for the automobile.
I guess, it's so bad and universal, that a producer was looking for a way to fund a documentary about this issue.
However, Chicago, is on the other side of the spectrum. Chicago, encourages it's cyclists to enjoy all simple pleasures denied by others.
Yet, some still are unsatisfied.
Out of all the taxation, this is one I'll gladly pay.
Here is a link to that post.
Bikes vs Cars
Where there is a hill, there's a way!
Budget cuts have greatly reduced the frequency and quality of streetsweeping done in my community, so road shoulders and bike paths are increasingly littered with broken glass- I now stop on just about every ride to clean up what's possible by hand.
Standing there on the side of the road, looking at so many oncoming drivers busy texting and using cellphones, gives me some ideas for funding the streetsweepers. It's called enforcing the law, and it has benefits way beyond generating revenue.
^^ Hear hear!
Cellphone use is still legal here, but $100 for texting(first offense) could add up pretty quickly from the looks of it.
true about the street sweeping. The pretty busy road my house sits on gets sweeped (sharrows in front of my house, but two bike lanes begin within half a mile on either side), including bike lanes.
However, my route downtown and back is on a couple of one-way roads with complete bike lanes. There's a railroad underpass and while the route TO downtown is pretty clear, the route BACK from downtown is a mess to the point that the bike lane is buried under a couple inches of sand and gravel and other road debris, forcing cyclists out into traffic when going underneath that bridge. These posts reminded me that I was meaning to ask around and find out who I need to report that maintenance need to. It really just needs a street sweeper to clean the mess on a somewhat regular basis (it's a low spot that will continually collect debris after storms).
I will be doing a ride with the mayor and his "Office of Sustainability" tomorrow morning and if I'm lucky (there will be several hundred people there, most likely), I will be able to tell someone about it.
just checked that site for my city. it seems the city does not check it, but I did find there a link for the city's request submission site.
Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
Nebraska couldn't capture the data never mind fixing the potholes. We're always surprised when we travel in Colorado and see "Rough Roads Ahead" signs marking the "bad" section of highway. In Nebraska those things are assumed. We also have a few other choice oversights, like the cyclist being at fault when they cross a roadway from a bike path (regardless of the light/stop sign) because they are not walking and are therefore not pedestrians. We have a 3' halo for vehicles that pass cyclists, but it's not enforced. But my favorite was my buddy who was hit by a motorcycle. The cyclist was in the emergency lane (small asphalt strip to the side of the roadway) as required by state law and had just cleared a on-ramp from an intersecting road. (To be clear here, he had crossed the portion of the road where merging traffic go from the on-ramp to the highway and was back on the emergency siding beyond the intersection.) A motorcycle coming from the intersecting roadway was traveling down the ramp, saw the cyclist and swerved into him (on the emergency lane) taking both riders off their vehicles. The responding sheriff's deputy (inappropriately) tickets the cyclist and both go their separate ways. I hear this story and ask my buddy if he got the insurance information (to replace his jersey, shorts, helmet and wheelset) and he tells me "nope, we're both fixing our own vehicles." At this point I accurately predict that he will get contacted by the motorcyclist's insurer who will be seeking damages. By noon he's back at my desk telling me that the motorcyclist want's $5K for repairs and I hand him the state statutes (which are pretty clear) to give his lawyer. Three days later, he has new wheels, jersey, helmet, shorts and he gave his lawyer buddy a case of beer (on top of the fee included in the settlement) telling me that my research was all the lawyer needed to settle out of court. Still waiting for my case of beer.
Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
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