Dear PoPville – Would you be willing to pay a Bike Tax to improve roads?

Photo by PoPville flickr user JRoseC

“Dear PoPville,

I came across this blog post from Straight Outta Suburbia and thought you might want to bring this idea up to readers: would bikers be willing to pay a bike tax?

Basically, the thesis of the author is this: roads are paid for, at least theoretically, with state and federal gas taxes. These are intended to serve as “user fees.” The people who use the road the most pay for it the most. Bikers often complain about the poor condition of roads, lack of bike lanes, etc. But they also don’t pay the gas taxes needed to maintain those roads and create those bike lanes.

Would they be willing to pay some sort of bike tax to get those improvements? If they are, it would probably provide some cover from fiscal conservatives who oppose these improvements because of their costs.”

113 Comment

  • I’m fine paying a bike tax, but in proportion to the costs of bike friendly features. Considering bikes contribute virtually no wear to roads. Additionally, car user fees contribute only around 50% to the costs of roads, so the premise of the question is flawed. Most bikers pay the sales, property, and income taxes that pay for the other half of roads. I am more than happy to pay for a bike lane or cycle track, but bikers pay their fair share for most roads already.

    • Most passenger cars don’t contribute wear to roads either.

      Nature does 85% of the job. Transport trucks do the rest.

  • Cyclists pay taxes too. Cyclists pay taxes too. Cyclists pay taxes too. How many times does it need to be repeated before people understand that??

    • Do cyclists pay license and registration renewal fees? In some areas you have to register your bicycle, but I’m not sure about DC. I’m not trying to cause controversy, but I’m assuming that these would be the same kind of tax. I could be wrong.

      • I am not sure of the exact figure but the majority of cyclists are car owners. So they already pay taxes to improve our roads.

        • Exactly, I’m a bike commuter because it’s faster and cheaper than driving to work or using transit.

          But I also own a vehicle and pay all of the associated fees and purchase gas just like everyone else. Now, I don’t purchase a lot of gas because I have a hybrid and don’t drive all that often, so maybe you should institute an additional tax on hybrid drivers too since we are generally under-taxed vis a vis other drivers.

          Of course that disincentivizes the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles, which presumably is something we want to incentivize (just like bicycling, which has the added bonus of freeing up road space for cars and trucks).

    • Cars don’t use bike lanes, so why should drivers pay to support them? Just saying that the logic has to go both ways.

      • I always see cars in the bike lanes, just saying.

      • Yeah, tell that to marion barry.

      • I see cars in the ‘bike and bus only’ lanes in Chinatown all the time. I’ve even had them cut me off and honk at me in them. I also see cars parking in the bike lanes all the time. Bike lanes wouldn’t even be needed if drivers would obey the laws. Hand up your cell phone and relize that you’re in a congested urban area;you’re not getting anywhere fast during rush hour.

  • If I pay a bike tax, does every other car driver have to pay a car tax for their proportional share to make up for the difference between spending on roads and the money brought in through the gas tax? If so, yes, please collect my pennies per year.

  • Bullshit.

    What DC needs is a tax on drivers coming in from Virginia and Maryland and/or congestion pricing so peole pay more to drive into downtown.

    Bikes SAVE the city money by putting fewer cars on the road or people on metro.

    • I’ve heard this “Tax DC and MD drivers” statement numerous times, but how would it be enforced?

      • Raise parking taxes. Oh wait 😉

        As far as gas taxes, so ridiculous that they weren’t indexed to inflation. It has been 18.4/gallon since 1993. Which makes sense because construction costs in 2011 are surely the exact same as they were in 1993.. lol.

        Now seems like the absolute perfect time to raise it. As gas prices are falling. It will offset the fall in prices, give us money to fix our crumbling infrastructure, and stop people from thinking that driving just themselves around in a Navigator is a good idea.

      • The same way London does it.

      • What Kyle W said.

        I would note that the city (Gray and even Kwame Brown, Navigator-lover that he is) this year raised the parking garage tax rate from 12% to 18%, which goes towards the objective John K was advocating.

        As for raising parking meter rates, this may not be as targeted to commuters as raising parking garage rates, but it might help encourage alternate means of transportation that place less of a burden on the roadways (but good luck getting Jack Evans to vote for that).

      • Tolls coming into the District

      • Many drivers in the area already have an EZPass unit in their cars—and if that were used for congestion pricing, even more cars would get them.

        As for the rest, here’s my thought: With the EZPass “gate,” set up cameras at every road entrance to a certain area of town (say, downtown-ish) that record every plate number.

        DC plates drive for free everywhere, since it’s our city anyway and we’re taxed without representation.

        Non-DC plates get something like 5 free trips into/out of town per year (so tourists don’t have to deal with it); after that, they’re charged the toll plus an additional 10% or so (billed to the address of record for the license plate) to encourage folks to get an EZPass.

        Pricing would be based on congestion, time of day, etc.

        • yeah, right. first of all, Congress would have to approve it, and MD and VA’s reps would lead the charge against such a bill. Who would even introduce it?

          second, a whole bunch of businesses would leave the District. Government agencies, too. Look at how much PG and Montgomery County have been fighting over where Health and Human Services will sign a new lease to see how willing other jurisdictions are to have those jobs.

          Third, unfair restriction on interstate commerce. Huge constitutional issues.

    • +100000000000000000

      It will be enforced like any other city toll is enforced (on the major entrances to the city). It doesn’t need to be much to be effective either.

    • I’m honestly confused by how this would work, so if someone could explain it to me, it would be greatly appreciated.

      I live in DC but commute to VA so would I have to pay everytime I come back into the city to go home? If that’s the case, then I’d feel like I’m being punished for not living AND working in DC.

      • Ditto for me to MD.

      • The point is not to punish. That is the biggest problem with America’s concept of taxes. They are not a punishment, but an investment and represent the costs of living in a civilized society. I’m not sure about a reverse commute like yours, but nobody would be punishing people from Virginia and Maryland for working in DC, simply asking them to pay their fair share to drive on our roads. This is not a new or out there concept.

        Additionally, the tax should be an incentive for some of those folks in Virginia and Maryland to use Metro–be it directly from where they live, or a drive to the nearest Metro stop and parking nearer to public transportation than driving all the way into the city. DC is overdriven. This is why whenever there’s a flake of snow or the earth starts shaking it takes drivers hours upon hours longer than normal to get home. Too many people drive in this town, and our Council is failing us both by their symbolic leadership (Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown) and by not exploring real ways to discourage people from driving.

        • the federal government writes very large checks to DC every year. Comparable to cities of our size, we’re doing pretty well. No reason to impose a tax that will scare away businesses, diners, and shoppers.

          • Um, no. What the federal gov’t gives DC does not nearly make up for the lack of property taxes DC could collect were the federal government and foreign embassies and others exempt from property taxes. And cities in other states also benefit from state governments — and other cities also are allowed to charge a commuter tax for the wear and tear on roads and water and sewer systems.

            A GAO report analyzed the whole problem a few years ago. DC residents cannot afford the amount of money that needs to be put into infrastructure and that the feds really needed to up investment by billions of dollars.

          • saf

            Lou’s right – and forgetting the other part. Costs imposed by the federal government burden the city in a unique way.

          • while lou might be right that DC loses out on tax revenue from federal property, without the feds located here, lots of businesses wouldn’t locate here either (law firms, lobbyists, media, govt. contractors, etc.) And people who work for those businesses, plus federal employees, wouldn’t live in DC and buy stuff here. So if the feds up and left, sure we’d have more taxable property, but I’d be willing to bet we’d have less tax revenue.

        • Not sure your earthquake example is all that great because Metro had to slow down to 15 mph after that event and the system was as backed up as the roads evacuating people last week. Similarly, if there’s some sort of terrorist attack either directly on a Metro station or more generally in the city with some kind of poison (gas, rad/nuke bomb, etc.) it’s likely Metro would have to shut down, stranding lots of suburbanites in the city.

          Still, your main point is a good one – DC needs to figure out a way to reduce the amount of commuter cars coming into the city for work. It seems some sort of tax (I think the parking tax is simplest and most likely to work) is the best “market driven” option since it forces people to individually reconsider their choice to drive and to plan for themselves how to get to work without a car.

      • set up a toll using cameras for cars entering DC with out of state tags that would send you a bill (monthly/yearly) , and it would exclude the DC tags

      • Easy;have the employers collect the tax. They know where their employees live.

    • +1

      Totally agree. This could work if MD and VA drivers who drive into DC each day and clog DC roads pay a toll or yearly tax for the ability to park in DC. DC drivers would be issued a permit or sticker that would let them park for free. This wouldn’t be a punishment, just a way for people who use DC roads to pay for DC roads.

    • @PoPVille, would be sweet if you added a Google +1 button to all posts and comments – so I could +1 this comment.

    • ledroittiger

      While this is a good idea in theory, there is no way the city would discourage people from driving into the city. That’s absurd. Especially with the metro having as many problems as it does. Get real.

  • Seriously, gas taxes don’t even come close to covering the amount spent on roads. The little “theoretically” conditional glosses over this fact and makes the entire post moot. Though I give credit to PoP for finding a creative way to inflame a biker vs driver debate.

  • Roads are already subsidized by all taxpayers, including cyclists, even though cars and trucks cause more wear and tear on roads than bikes by an enormous factor. increasing the gas tax by a nickel would raise far more $$ than any proposed bike tax anyway. I only wish the nation’s mass transit and intercity rail networks received as much support as do roads.

    • Cars cause almost no wear and tear on roads. Overweight trucks and freezing and thawing cycles cause 100% of wear and tear.

      • when we say “roads” are we also including signs, trafic lights, and all those other things that go along with roads?

      • Cars cause wear and tear on people. Check out the Struck in DC blog.

        • Tell me about it. The five panic attacks I’ve had in my life happened on five separate occasions while driving in Northern Virginia. I also had back/neck problems and was heavier back when I was several hours a day driving. After the snowstorm that caused the epic traffic jam getting out of DC, I was so sore I couldn’t get out of bed the next day. Driving takes a huge physical and mental toll on people.

      • Hate to break it to ya, but car liquids, such as oil and anti-freeze actually destroy the integrity of the asphalt causing it to fail.

  • Sounds like an awesome idea! I’ll do you one better: Raise the gas tax to the level where it actually pays the entirety of new road construction and maintenance. Then charge bikes a proportional rate equal to the damage they do to the roads. I’ll gladly pay my five or ten bucks per year – and so will thousands more, once gas jumps to ten or fifteen bucks a gallon. You can believe that politicians wouldn’t be pushing for new roads to nowhere anymore, since they’d see the rapid drop in cars on the road leaving them with even less in the coffers to spend. Sign me up!

    • If gas was $15/gallon, a loaf of bread would cost $20.

      • Yeah – and Wal-Mart/Target wouldn’t be so cheap anymore!

        We could turn this into a Fossil Fuel that would be fun! 🙂

    • +1

      Also, if roads were built for bikes not cars then they would be far cheaper. My bike and I weigh about 250 lbs. The average car is more like 4,000 lbs and big trucks are 20,000+.

      • how would you even get your bike if there were no roads?

        • the premise of the letter to PoP was that we should all have to pitch in for using the roads whether we bike or drive a car. Of course the whole idea behind that was thoroughly debunked earlier in the comments but if you want to ignore that then I’m saying that you don’t need to build bike lanes and bike paths the same way you build normal roads because they aren’t going to take the stress of heavy cars and trucks. As a result it would be much cheaper.

  • The posting falls for the common idea that gas taxes pay for roads. The gas tax receipts fall far short of the amount of tax revenue that goes to roads and also falls short of all the true subsidies given to oil producers and refiners. I am not going to look for the study, but have read that each gallon of gasoline purchased actualy costs the US tax payer a few cents if you figure out all the various tax loopholes and such.

  • gotryit

    Let’s face it, people who oppose bike infrastructure generally oppose it from an ideological standpoint, not a practical one.
    Fiscal conservatism to them really means ”I want to be fiscally conservative about the things that you like and I don’t.” Real fiscal conservatives are working on things more important than paint for bike lanes.

    And sure, I’ll chip in for what I use. Or, more fairly, I should get a rebate for not putting as much wear and tear as I pay for. Raise the gas tax.

  • I’ll happily pile on. Motorists need to pay many times what they are paying in order to pull their weight. Bikes require relatively very little public infrastructure. Why are Americans so stupid about/for cars? For the record I am a long-time cyclist and a recent, reluctant motorist.

    • The American car culture was born artificially when Ford, Goodyear and Standard Oil colluded to purchase and summarily dismantle the American mass transit systems piece by piece. This, combined with the post-war boom of suburban home construction created a situation that forced people to buy cars, burn gas, and buy tires.

      Gotta love good ol’ American unfettered capitalism! Get your Big Government hands off my petroleum subsidies!

      • janie4

        The suburban boom you talk about – happened because people wanted to move out of the cities into bigger units, which were cheaper.

        And if you’re talking about the streetcar lines, which were horse drawn, then electric-powered, you could say that what Ford, Goodyear and Standard Oil (theoretically) did was break up a public transit monopoly, powered by a government fossil fuel electricial generation monopoly, and put in one that benefitted them – a public transit monopoly that was powered by petroleum, which also happened to give people the option to live in different types of units further away, which people chose to do.

  • the only feasible way would be to license bikes themselves or their riders, like autos. Yeah, gas taxes dont make up all the cost, but they do contribute.

    And, this is a similar debate on hybrid and electric cars who pay less gas taxes.

  • Gas taxes don’t even pay for a naive concept of road construction and maintenance. Tell you what – I would be thrilled to pay a bike tax as soon as motorists start paying user fees that cover the cost of road construction and maintenance as well as the cost of externalities from burning fossil fuels. Right now, I’m subsidizing those free-loaders through both my income taxes and my health.

    I’m all for a marginal benefit = marginal cost model of paying for infrastructure, and I think most cyclists would be pleased as peaches to move to one.

    • Right now, you’re subsidizing free-loaders through your income taxes, such as: families with children who attend public schools. Childless couples pay taxes that support the school system, because our society relies on schools — as well as roads.

      The majority of the goods you consume are brought into the city via roads, not bikes. Therefore, you make use of the roads indirectly.

      • I’m actually fine with paying for public schools, so long as they’re run well. There’s definitely a positive ROI there. There are very large net benefits to society of a well-educated populace. Though I don’t think we should actually be giving tax incentives to encourage fertility, as we are right now.

        Is our subsidization of road construction and fossil fuels a form of corporate welfare to the trucking industry? At the margin, I suppose it is. I say remove this government support and let the market clear. It wouldn’t be technically difficult to do so.

        • Drive around in Mozambique for a couple days and you will change your mind on this one.

          While I have no love for ‘fossil fuels’ and ‘car culture’, we live in an interconnected society and we all have to chip in for some stuff we don’t necessarily like or use.

          Rural areas would be totally screwed in such a transportation model.

          Name me one industrialized country whose government does not manage roads and I will buy you a drink!

      • Our society does rely on schools, so childless people should have no problem paying for schools. Like J says, the ROI is immense. The roads are used for trucks, it’s true, and I suspect it’s a night when I can’t see them, but it does seem like commuters use the roads more than trucks. Why can’t they use public transit or bikes instead? Why can’t they pay a commuter tax to pay for the privilege of using the roads that are built for trucks bringing us our goods?

      • Schools are important for the health of our democracy and I’m glad to pay for them, and would be willing to pay more even though I’m childless.

        But OTOH, roads are a limited public good. if you had ever lived by a busy road, you’d realize how much pollution they cause. I lived by A1A in South Florida once and was constantly cleaning my house of the black dust. Think about how we’re all sucking that gunk into our lungs. A certain amount of road is a public good. But not the over-reliance the US currently has on them.

    • J — hold up a sec. While I agree the gas tax needs to be raised, there’s an even bigger problem here. When the Highway Trust Fund was set up in the ’50s to pay for the Interstates, the idea was that motorists would pay a gas tax and that the revenue from this tax would go directly back to road construction and maintenance. In this way, user fees truly would benefit the users.

      In recent years, however, we’ve increasingly seen road user fees be mismanaged and diverted to non-road projects. The resulting budget shortfalls for roads have therefore encouraged growing reliance on tolls (many of which ALSO don’t go back to roadwork). Your characterization of motorists as “free loaders” is therefore quite unfair. NY & NJ, for example, just voted to raise tolls for trucks crossing Port Authority bridges and tunnels to NYC to an astronomical $90! Motorists DO pay, in many cases through the nose, but are not getting much return on their investment. As a result, our bridges are crumbling, our highways deteriorate, DC has the worst traffic in the nation, AND it costs me $45 in tolls alone to drive my Volvo to New England.

      ALL road users should support fairly-priced user fees, but with those should come assurances that the money we pay will actually be used to keep our roads moving safely, efficiently, and affordably for all.

  • If this logic is applied to the poor, then they should be paying much more in taxes than the wealthy, because they use so much more of the public’s resources. “I don’t use crack, or shoot people, or lack health insurance, or have a kid I cannot support, or need welfare, so I should pay less in taxes.”

    I agree, even as a pure car person, that we should raise the gas tax through the roof, but this “I shouldn’t have to support the stupid car people” is right up there with the wealthy saying “why should I pay more for people who won’t work?”

    • This is the most sensible reply on this entire thread. No whining, just common sense.

      Everyone wants things, no one wants to pay for them though.

      I have a bike, and I want nice roads and bike lanes, but I already pay enough… Evil car drivers should pay more! Please…

      • Yep, agree 100%. Why has our country devolved into such an “all for me, none for you” society?

        Oh right, I guess it’s thanks to that great President who said “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

    • Because wealthy people benefit from the social services that poor people receive. If poor people weren’t educated, there would be more crime against the wealthy. If poor people didn’t get health care, there would be more diseases transmitted to the wealthy. The wealthy paying more taxes to support the poor is insurance for the wealthy.

    • Sorry – 10:59 was me; I didn’t notice I was not logged in as myself – didn’t want to look like I was afraid to leave my name.

  • Rather than charging bikers the trivial amount of costs they impose, a higher priority should be making sure that car drivers pay the full societal cost of using gasoline. I.e., directly charge them for the numerous ways in which taxpayers currently subsidize oil production and use, the environmental and public health negative externalities of producing oil and burning gasoline, etc. Most estimates are that the true societal costs of gasoline use are $10+/gallon, which is closer to what gas costs in most countries with effective governments. Once you do that, you could get back to asking bikers to pay their share.

    Full disclosure – I both bike and drive. I’m just asking for a fair allocation of costs.

  • C’mon, PoP. This is clearly baiting the readership. Next up: Should registered Democrats have their wages garnished to support Planned Parenthood?

  • In addition to the obvious economic flaws with this article…

    Bikers=Drivers. Drivers=Bikers. In 2009, 90% of AVID cyclists in the top biking county in Oregon (go figure) still owned and used a car.

    It’s absurd to create a false divide between cyclists and drivers. There is no vast social fissure between two opposing groups here. Society uses its roads. Society benefits when a more affordable and efficient means of transportation gains popularity. We all win!

  • Since oil is so evil, what exactly do you propose that we run cars on? Or are we supposed to abolish the car and just bike everywhere? The gas tax is just a structurally flawed idea. The reason we are so screwed is bc fuel efficiency has increased so much, which we also want to encourage. If we raise the gas tax, it will encourage less use of fuel, which will either decline the amount collected or cause another increase, just continuing a cycle. Instead, we should decide if we want a gas tax to persuade people to use less gas and we should also fund roads differently. Right now roads aren’t getting the funding they need bc the highway trust fund can’t pay for all the needs and the states are broke.

    Yes, I think bikers should pay a tax to subsidize the cost of bike infrastructure, but I think there should be more bike paths and bike lanes that are physically divided from roadways. Slapping some paint down on an existing road isn’t doing anything, it’s just making hipsters and people who spent a lot of money to learn how to use auto cads feel better. It’s the same road, must with more paint.

    As it is right now cars and bikes are in each others way… Both modes work best when they are segregated. Sort of the same idea as why the street car running in traffic lanes is a glorified bus.

  • The premise is nonsense, which cuts both ways. Gas taxes (state and federal) pay for only about 1/3 of the cost of building and maintaining roads. Sure cyclists pay other taxes. So does everyone else. If they want bike-specific features, sure tax cyclists a little more for the cost, but recognizing that they are saving the public money by cycling rather than driving. Still, get off the frickin sidewalk! Amen.

  • I was thinking I should get a refund, you know, to encourage me to bike more…

  • That’s a better idea than taxing bikes. The city saves money by taking cars off the road through incentivizing bike use. Unfortunately, there’s not really a good way to reward bike use.

    Well, maybe you could vastly increase the scope of BikeShare, so that people could actually use it for commuting. Like, to the extent that it’d more or less interchangeable with a car in terms of availability. If I had the choice of a *free* bike within a 1 – 2 minute walk of my house or driving my car, I’d always choose bike (weather permitting).

  • I’ll pay a bike tax as soon as pedestrians pay a walkers tax. Bikers don’t always have a bike lane but pedestrians always have sidewalks.

    • I’ll pay a walkers tax as soon as bikers stop at stop signs and stop lights as well as following the other rules of the road to which they never seem to adhere.

      • I’ll stop running stop signs and red lights when the cops actually enforce all the laws that cars break every day. If we ever get to the point when drivers don’t speed like motherfuckers within city limits, pass me at dangerously unsafe speeds, take dangerous illegal U turns, learn how to use their turn signals, not cut off cyclists in bike lanes while turning right, run red lights at dangerous speeds, talk on the phone while driving, open doors in the path of moving bikes, and when the police tow away all the assholes who double park in the bike lanes, yes, then I’ll stop running stop signs and red lights…… Until then, stop complaining about the behavior of cyclists!

        • I must confess that I don’t understand how this Sunsquashed @ 9:34’s comment is allowed under PoP’s new civility rules. Saying that all car drivers are “motherfuckers” and claiming that all practice widely dangerous behavior seems to me to be nothing more than an ad hominen attack.

          When PoP began enforcing civility in commenting, he said that calling an unknown landlord a “slumlord” was unacceptable. I don’t particularly care about this comment one way or the other, but I think that if civility rules are going to be enforced they should be enforced equally for all.

          Maybe I’m just not understanding the new rules …

          • No, I think you are understanding the *stated* rules just fine. What’s at issue is the capricious nature with which they are applied.

            It is in fact possible in WordPress to define a set of words that would put a comment in a bin for moderation. This would seem to be an easy first line of defense against a lot of the name calling and such…

          • No, no, no. I did not call ALL drivers “motherfuckers.” Read my post again. I made no implication about the % of drivers who act irresponsibly. I only mentioned that bad drivers exist and should be controlled. When speeding drivers put my life at risk……I believe I’m completely entitled to state that they “speed like motherfuckers.”

      • Cars weigh 2 tons and are therefore a deadly weapon, killing 40,000 Americans a year. Bikes weigh at most 30 lbs. and kill at most 2 American a year. As long as drivers can break laws without repercussions, bikers can break all the laws in the world.

        • Slight over-simplification here. First, traffic-related fatalities are down 25% in the last 5 years (to around 30,000), indicating major progress in various safety efforts. Second, whatever number you use (40K, 30K), bicyclist fatalities are included in that figure, and about half of the fatalities seen each year as a result of bike-car crashes are the fault of the cyclist. While it’s true that a bike hitting somebody is not likely to kill that person, that’s also not a valid excuse for cyclists shirking their responsibilities to keep themselves and others safe on the road.

          And, for the record, I’m a bike commuter, every day. And while I certainly see horrible behavior on the part of motorists, it was 5 of my fellow cyclists that I saw go thru the red light at 11th and Rhode Island this morning, not our motorist “enemies.”

  • I would only pay a bike tax if the district installed Copenhagen style bike lanes and banned cars entirely from some select roads.

  • Road? Where we’re going we don’t need roads…

  • What would such a tax on cyclists be? Twenty bucks a year? For all the passion and vitriol about their rights on the roadway, it’s duplicitous to complain about contributing.

    Consider this, such a contribution could go toward safety issues that come with sharing the road. A public awareness campaign, enforcement of traffic rules/laws, better signage and dedicated bike lanes in both directions on every road would be a benefit to all of us.

    Some of us have no choice about driving to/from work (so please, STFU about free-loading), but I’m one who would bike more for errands and fun if I felt more confident that I won’t be maimed or killed by careless drivers.

    Who wouldn’t want to contribute to that objective?

  • If the taxes that are already collected weren’t so grossly mishandled by your infinitely corrupt DC government, there would probably be plenty of money for more fancy bike lanes.

    But I do like the idea of making people register their bicycles if they’re going to operate them on public roadways. It would be much easier to enforce traffic laws, especially via photo enforcement, if bikes all had big license plates on the back.

  • I guess I don’t understand the logic of the POP community: gas taxes only pay for a portion of road construction, so bikers shouldn’t pay for any portion.

  • No tax – I would be happy if cyclists simply had to follow traffic laws. And by that I mean enforcing them. And by that I mean also getting your f’ing bikes off the sidewalk. In the past few days alone, I’ve almost been run in to by a cyclist and have had people yell at me to move my dog – from the sidewalk – so they can ride by.

    We spent money on your fancy bike lanes…so use them.


    • Drivers never do that? You’re more terrified of a little bike hitting you and your dog than a giant car? So you’d rather use your energy to make bikers follow the law rather than making drivers?

      • I don’t actually think drivers drive on the sidewalk yelling at people to move their dogs. At least I’ve never seen it. 🙂

      • If you’ve ever been slammed into by a biker on the sidewalk, you might feel differently.

        Yes, yes. A car would be whole bunches and bunches more dangerous, but really, why does this have to be an all or nothing deal? The argument that “since other people don’t have to I shouldn’t have to” just doesn’t fly with me when we’re discussing public safety.

        So, until EVERY driver who breaks a law is caught EVERY time for EVERY infraction, other commuters (riding or walking) have no responsibility to obey rules that protect the public (and themselves, by the way!)?

      • As a driver, I don’t drive in bike lanes or use them as the “just a minute!” parking spot that many do. And I firmly believe that driving violations are also huge problems. My husband rides his bike to work, so I’m an advocate of peacefully sharing the road for everyone’s safety. That means in areas there are bike lanes, people on bikes should HAVE to use the bike lanes. Otherwise, Screw the bike lanes and make more room for cars, right?

        I’ve seen plenty of people on bikes looking at their phones and biking with headphones in their ears. The last number of days as the weather has been nicer, more people are on their bikes in my neighborhood, which is great – but it’s an area full of bike lanes that, as a tax payer, I support 100%. I also support you getting off the sidewalk.

        Simiarly to I don’t drive or park in your bike lane, my dog does not shit in your bike lane, so let her have some sidewalk.

    • I’m an frequent cyclist and I’d like to apologize for my assh0le brethern for shouting at you and your dog. Sidewalks, first and foremost, are for WALKING and although DC law allows us to bike on the sidewalk, it doesn’t mean we get use it like a bath path.

  • In my personal experience, while walking, I’ve had probably 4 or 5 very close calls when I’ve nearly been hit by a bicycle that ran a light or stop sign. I’ve never been nearly hit by a car, to the best of my knowledge. Which isn’t to say that doesn’t happen — I’m sure it happens all the time since cars outnumber bikes — but I’ve generally felt more at-risk of injury by bikes than cars (I’m not Jessica)

    • In my personal experience while biking I’ve had more close calls with pedestrians who jaywalk either against the light or midblock than I have had with cars.

      In my experience pedestrians–especially those with headphones or reading their smartphones–make an effort to look for cars but somehow don’t see bicycles.

      Actually the only time I’ve collided with a car was when both the car and I swerved to avoid a pedestrian who was crossing against the light and did one of those things were they go left, right, left, right trying to decide what to do and in our attempt to not hit them we hit each other. And of course the pedestrian ran away so when the police arrived there was no one to ticket and to hold responsible for the damage.

  • Note that Gas taxes only fund federal and state roads. The vast majority of roadways are funded through local tax dollars funded through Property Tax. Those bicyclists that own homes (or rent from owners) are already funding roads through those tax payments.

    Most of the time, cyclists are using local roads, not highways or state routes.

  • Maybe this is the environmentalist in me, but this is a terrible idea. We should be encouraging people to bike and walk to work in the morning, not enforcing a tax on those that already do it. To be honest, commuters who drive into the city each day for work need to be taxed or forced to pay a fee. If you want to drive your car through the city and congest roadways, that is your prerogative, but we shouldn’t be encouraging this. The environmental, economic, and health benefits of cycling, walking, and public transportation, more than make up for the cost to fix a road.

    I will also say that DC residents are (for the most part) great about taking bikes and the metro or walking around the city as their primary means of transportation. The majority of people driving in this city do not live within the city limits – they are MD and VA commuters coming in. While not all of them may have the ability (or the time) to take the metro into work in the morning – many of them do, so it’s important to push those people to do so.

  • People who bike to work as I do should get a tax credit! We help keep cars off the streets and metro cars and buses less cluttered during rush hours.

    • I’d give you that credit, if you actually paid the fines for every stop sign or light you ran and every other rule of the road you regularly violate…

      • Do you follow all the rules? You know that going over the speed limit by 1mph is illegal right? Glass houses and whatnot.

  • austindc

    Yeah, I’d probably pay a tax! I would love to see bike infrastructure like Amsterdam has. I’d be willing to pay for it. I assume we would need some sort of Department of Non-Motor Vehicles to keep track of all the bikers.

  • Wow, there are so many different types of bike riders (messenger, to daily commuters to weekend recreational). How does one assess this tax? When a person buys a bike? When they register their bike? Do children who ride bikes to school or just for fun after school, do their parents pay the tax, is there a tax for that or for those who only ride on the sidewalk? Seriously, where does it end and will pedestrians have to pay for sidewalk improvements? Bike infrastructure improvement is a city living improvement and should be a part of general operating cost imo. If more private bike sharing companies use public land to operate their stations there should be a leasing fee but a tax…

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