Enjoy the Free Ride While It Lasts

| Just when you were convinced that your bike is a free alternative to driving, a bill is proposed in Oregon that would require cyclists to pay a $54 registration every two years. Wayne Kriger, the bill’s chief architect (and, natch, a non-cyclist), says bike riders should help pay for the roads they use. Just be glad he didn’t propose a Pay As You Drive fee. (HT: Greg Hum) [%comments]


I'm conflicted about this one-- on one hand, there's no reason cyclists should be exempt from paying for roads if drivers are paying for them (especially since bad quality roads are probably more dangerous to cyclists than anyone else). On the other hand, there are so few bikers that will this even make a difference? And it seems to be a good way of disincentivizing something we should be promoting more of.

On another note, I'm curious about where this figure came from... are car drivers paying the equivalent of $27 a year for roads? Via tolls, or is this the cost of a car registration over several more years?


I do not know anything about cycling in Portland, but where I live and bike to work everyday I do not enjoy much in the way of amenities geared toward cyclists. I would be more than happy to pay $27 a year if it went toward well-maintained bike lanes, bike-friendly intersections, and the like.

Brian Kirk

I have read about what a friendly state Oregon is to bikers & now they pull this crap! It's more than likely that even those bikers have a car in their households; so now they are being double taxed! Give me a break.


Are they going to make walkers pay a registration fee to pay for the sidewalks they walk on too?

Emily WK

"I'm conflicted about this one- on one hand, there's no reason cyclists should be exempt from paying for roads if drivers are paying for them"

Actually, as a tax paying citizen, I pay for the roads even though I don't own a car. There is a very common misconception that gas taxes pay for more of the roads than they actually do. Also, I do much less damage to the roads than a car does, so I'm paying for a LOT more of the roads than I proportionally "use."

I wonder if the guy that proposed this thinks that cyclists don't pay taxes.

Also, how does he plan to have this enforced? Pulling over cyclists to check their registration? Are we all going to get license plates? Ugh.


I guess I'd have to ask how much it costs to include bicycles on roadways and then ask is it worth offsetting this cost? Then as Ber said, shouldn't pedestrians be taxed for their use of sidewalks and roads? And if so, isn't that included in income tax? *Or as I call it, the "You exist" tax.*


This is insane. Taxes are used for two reasons (correct me if I'm wrong): 1) affecting behaviour and 2) raising revenues.

Since the revenues aren't significant, the assumption would be that this tax is designed to curb behaviour. However, cycling should be considered positive behaviour! If anything, there should be some sort of tax break for cycling instead of driving.


Roads are paid for in part by property taxes and county bonds, which cyclists also pay. A bicycle also uses a very small portion of the road and causes far less damage resulting in reduced maintenance costs. It seems like this works out to bicyclists already paying more than their fair share.


These proposals fail to recognize three important facts.
1. Most cyclists also own and drive cars and so are already paying for the roads;
2. In almost every city, streets and their maintenance are paid for through sales and/or property taxes, not vehicle registration fees or even gas taxes; and
3. Cycling creates public goods. By taking an alternative form of transportation, cyclists alleviate some traffic congestion, they reduce air pollution, and cycling is exercise which improves the health of riders (potentially reducing the burden on the health system).

Luk Arbuckle

All taxpayers pay roads, regardless of whether or not they use them directly.

cyclist/inline skater/car owner/transit user

Converting a car driver to a cyclist would actually create a reduction in road costs. I can't say if it would be more or less than $27, but it would reduce need for more roads, and cost less road damage so I suspect it saves money. It's even possible that paying the cyclists instead of taking money from them would result in road user revenues more closely matching expenses if it reduced heavier vehicle use.

I worked on our city's cycling committee at city hall as a citizen member for 8 years. Here's the certain reality. These bike registration schemes, which were proposed regularly, usually by people or groups who found cyclists to be an annoyance, never made sense to implement because the bureaucracy costs and enforcement costs (police and municipal courts) always projected to exceed the revenue - forget about the road-repairs.

Joe, Portland Oregon

This bill has no chance. For some reason Oregon pols are trying to tax anything and everything right now, just seeing if anything will stick. The sponsor is pandering to his base, nothing more, nothing less.


How much wear and tear can a bike do to infrastructure? Is it equal to $27 a year? That's 25% of what I currently pay in yearly registration fees for my car.

I would have to agree with Meg that this sort of tax would be a definite disincentive to an activity that has health and other benefits.


As Mrs. Lovejoy would say, "Won't somebody please think of the children?"

Do they have to pay the tax as well?


Everyone with a mountain bike should claim they only use it off-road...


This is insanity. Bikes do absolutely zero damage to roads. Heavy trucks do 8-10,000 times the damage of a passenger car yet get off easy. Hopefully this guy's constituents vote him out next time he's up for reelection.


Matt, 15

Hard to claim that if you're riding it down the street. What I want to know is where they're going to find cops who are:

1) In good enough shape to catch young people on road bikes (which I assume would be the largest population of those in non-compliance)


2) Ok with busting cyclists who aren't ok with yet another incredibly stupid tax

Both of these are assuming the enforcers would be on bikes, as it's almost too easy for a bike to ditch a car in urban areas.


I'd agree to a tax if it guaranteed maintenance and safety of bike lanes. But that aside, what about the environmental benefit of bicycle commuting? Remember, because I bike to work, I'm taking a car off the road. That's an improvement in traffic, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a reduction in wear and tear to the infrastructure, and a health benefit for me (which I can pass on to my offspring). Every day I ride I'm reducing our dependence on foreign oil by a gallon or so (but increasing my dependence on domestic craft beer). With all that, you'd think the government should be paying us to ride to work!


This is absurd. Would you make people register their bodies to walk on public sidewalks? Should rollerbladers, people with wheelchairs, and mothers with baby carriages have to pay special usage fees as well?


Perfect.... You tax cyclists and give the money to insolvent banks..... the great intelligence of our lawmakers....