Should bicyclists pay user fees?
In Oregon, three Republicans and a Democrat have filed a bill to do that. One of them gave his view of the responsibility of bicyclists in an earlier interview to BikePortland.org:
"On the way to work this morning, coming to an intersection, I stopped, and here comes a bicycle right next to me, right through the intersection...and that is a daily thing...and until we get a handle on that and hold them accountable....they're creating a hazard out there. They're on a public highway that's designed for motor vehicles, not for those other uses...and to put everybody who's driving a vehicle into a situation like this...I think it's not right."
Alright, that suggests a certain anti-bicycle mentality, but what about the concept of contributing to the maintenance of bike paths? By the way, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, who has filed legislation this year requiring bikes to stop at intersections with traffic signals, proposed a statewide bicycle tax/registration system many years ago.
Oregon's got all sorts of interesting ideas for making money. At the start of the year, I wrote about its idea to tax drivers by the mile, because they stopped buying so much gasoline when the gas tax went up. This week, Gov. Pawlenty ordered $5 million to be spent to study the idea for Minnesota.
(h/t: St. Paul Issues Forum)
This post's brevity and misleading quote don't do much to clarify your question about user fees. You're trying to tackle at least three issues here; sharing the streets, car vs. bike behaviors, & registration/user fees. I'll respond to the latter one.
I do about 50% of my commutes by bike, 50% by car. So, I'm already paying road and gas taxes to the state. Plus, I pay state sales tax on the bikes & accessories I use.
And note that I said bikes, plural. I have 3 bicycles set up for commuting, each for unique conditions and uses; snow/rain, short errands, distance. A car's excess horsepower and space allow a single car to be equipped for all of these conditions. Should I be required to pay three registration/use fees even though only one bike is on the road at a time?
I'm not opposed to paying a fair share towards maintaining our transportation infrastructure, but if these fees are being imposed due to a sense of spite by drivers (which your post suggests) we'll be taking a step backwards.
I think you've misinterpreted Rep. Kahn's proposed legislation is correct, Bob. Currently, the law requires bicyclists to abide by the same traffic rules as cars, with a few exceptions. (https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=169.222)
Stop signs/lights are not among these exceptions, though many cyclists ignore them anyway.
Rep. Kahn's bill would basically allow bicyclists to treat stop signs/lights as yield signs. If, after slowing down and taking a look around the intersection, they saw that no cars were approaching, they could proceed through without stopping.
Check it out:
I have a car, a motorcycle and a bike. I pay registration on 2 of the 3, yet only 1 is on the road at a time. Why not extend it to bikes as well?
(in all honesty - before we start a interweb word war, this is a devils advocate case)
if you can get stop lights to change for bicycles consistently, and have motorists (all of them) realize that as a bicycle I have as much legal right to be on the road as them... I might be willing to pay an extra tax.
in the mean time I have to deal with people throwing things at me... shouting obscenities at me... and attempting to run me off the road, or possible kill me (never bothered to catch up and ask them their intentions.) Oh and lets not forget flashing their brights at me, because they have an issue with my 2W battery powered light, so clearly I need 120W of car headlights in my face... which of course adds to the difficulty of seeing where your going and not hitting pot holes...
There is a bitterness towards bicycles from a lot of motorists, and all you need to do is talk to a single bicyclist to hear plenty of stories about them...
Last thought, if we are going to start charging people to bicycle on roads for road taxes, what are we going to do for mountain bikers who don't even touch the road? would I have the option to not be taxed if I simply stayed off the roads, and stuck to dirt?
like dc1515 I have a car, m/c and bicycles. Actually, between my wife and I, we have 7 bicycles. If the state starts charging a registration fee, we could face a significant cost hit; one number I heard was $54 for a 2 year registration. For our seven bikes, that would amount to nearly $400 - which is probably more than my three bikes are worth.
Perhaps the question shouldn't be about bicycles in particular. Maybe instead we should start asking whether we want to live in a user-fee based society. Should everything have a fee attached, so only those who directly benefit face a charge? Or should there be certain amenities - a quality of life baseline - that are provided, and only the luxury items incur a charge?
City parks used to be entirely free. Now there are parking fees & off-leash dog park fees. Should we attach a fee to using the walking paths around the lakes & along our rivers & streams? It certainly costs a lot of money to build & maintain those hundreds of miles of paths. Perhaps we could also put up toll booths on all our roads - and directly charge the users - and only the users - of those roads. It certainly seems like that would be a more 'fair' system. But would it be more desirable?
Or how about a fee per pound of vehicle? Wear and tear on the roads is a portion of what user fees and taxes are used for and the heavier a vehicle the more wear and tear it creates.
So, using bsimon's example of $27 per bicycle per year and using the weight of my bicycle and myself at 180 pounds, that comes out to $0.15 user fee per pound per year per vehicle. On my 6,000 pound SUV that works out to $900 per year and on a 50,000 pound semi that would be $7,500 per year. I think I found the answer to our state's budget crisis. Just make sure every vehicle is charged not by the mile, but by the pound!
One last thing and I'll shut my yap. Imposing user fees on bicycles will almost certainly result in:
1) lack of compliance
2) more personnel at MNDOT's "bicycle registration department"
3) wasting law enforcement's time enforcing bicycle registration non-compliance
I'm in favor of user fees and taxes on transportation forms we should discourage (single driver vehicles, oversized vehicles not used for work, etc.) and support things we should encourage (biking, mass transit, carpooling, etc.). That's a concrete step we can make toward reducing CO2 emissions and dependence on foreign oil.
What a stupid idea! This looks like mindless suburban-rural/Republican bluster. The lard-asses in their coffins think they are the only people who pay taxes and resent any money not spent directly on their needs (cardiac stents and gastric bypass surgery mostly).
That's no way to have a democracy and certainly isn't patriotic, but don't tell them that.....
Taxing vehicles by the mile has giant negative privacy side effects. Most of the proposed implementations use GPS tracking and extensive record keeping to figure the miles traveled. The next time you end up anywhere near a court those records will be subpoenaed and will end up in public. Want to adopt? Why was your car parked near that seedy bar a month ago? Get in an accident? Your insurance company can find out you were speeding 27 times in the last year alone, so your coverage is retroactively canceled.
It's a bad idea to be avoided at all costs.
Rich.....GPS tracking is normal for commercial vehicles and nobody is dragging their GPS records into court. BTW how often do you go to court???!!!
However the simple way to tax vehicles by miles is to just raise the gas tax. That would effectively tax miles and put money in the system.