Are Bicyclists Free Riders?

| Do bicyclists contribute their fair share to the transportation network? An Oregon lawmaker thinks not, and has proposed a law requiring cyclists to pay a $54 registration fee every two years. A Portland bike blog interviewed the lawmaker in question, who explained the proposal this way: “[B]ikes have used the roads in this state forever and have never contributed a penny. The only people that pay into the system are those people who buy motor vehicle licenses and registration fees.” Considering the enormous benefits of investments in bicycle infrastructure, can even a tax-hating bicyclist concede his point, at a registration cost of just over 7 cents a day? [%comments]

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  1. Alex says:

    This is a crazy idea that goes against the whole essence of bike-riding. More people riding bikes would significantly decrease the amount of money the city has to spend on road repair and construction. If anything, the city should pay people to ride bikes, not the other way around.

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  2. Ken says:

    So a police officer is going to write seven year old’s tickets for riding unregistered bikes? What about a registration tax every two years on shoes since pedestrians also use roads and sidewalks? Doesn’t Oregon encourage green technology and isn’t a bike an extremely green form of transport – is this a tax would be discouraging a behavior that many would rather encourage?

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  3. discordian says:

    “[B]ikes have used the roads in this state forever and have never contributed a penny. The only people that pay into the system are those people who buy motor vehicle licenses and registration fees.”

    seems to me that most (adult) bicycle riders would also own a motorized vehicle.
    Or are they into taxing children?

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  4. luke says:

    i’m sympathetic with the bill providing a better way to identify bikers who break traffic laws (a registration number could be recorded), but on the rest i’m somewhat skeptical. feels like the lawmaker has a mild anti-bike agenda from reading the intervew. i figure that a larger portion of road improvement should be paid for out of general funds, in that all of us benefit from a good road system. even if we don’t drive, we buy things brought in on vehicles, or delivered to us. yes, there should be gas taxes and some road tolls to more directly tax heavy users, but just apply the 54 dollar tax to every citizen over two years, and use that for roads in general.

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  5. Rob Stevens says:

    And they shouldn’t have to. Bikes don’t hear up the roads the way 2000 lbs. riding on underinflated tires do. Why not fine the jerks who you hear are still driving around on bare pavement with studs?

    If the idea is to get less people driving, then why would you give anyone a disincentive to do just that?

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  6. Brian says:

    That makes sense in theory, however, how do you differentiate between bicyclist commuters and those who ride bikes for recreation? If I own 2 cars, drive to work, pay tolls, pay gas tax, excise tax, registration, license fees, etc… Didn’t I already pay my “fair share” of taxes? Does this apply to children as well? Is it only a matter of time before I have to start paying a fee to jog on the sidewalk??

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  7. derek says:

    I would pay the. Particularly as a resident of New York if New York were as good to bicyclists as Oregon is. It’s better for the environment.

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  8. Ali says:

    On looking at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/fees/vehicle.shtml you see that 54$ is the cost of registration for a car in Oregon. Now I would like to see the math because of which a 20lb bike does as much damage to roads as a car that weighs a 100 times that.

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