10 March 2009


I keep hearing and reading this from motorists who don’t like bicyclists and see them as “freeloaders”, and I am really getting tired of it. Who died and made you guys the tax police for crying out loud? Please explain to me just exactly what you mean by 'it's that simple'. And now we have these four legislators in Oregon who want everyone to be forced to register their bikes at a cost of $54 every two years or face a $90 fine. There would be a $25 fine for failing to notify the State when ownership changes hands, too.

I read this “cyclists are freeloaders” garbage in the blogs. I read it in the editorial pages and I read it in the “sound-off” forums. I hear it from motorists who yell at me and tell me to get off the road that was built for them. Well excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but you are totally missing the point. Let me pose a question to you. The sidewalks in front of your house are paid for with highway and property taxes. I'd like to know just exactly when you plan to register your Nikes, because I PAID FOR THOSE SIDEWALKS with my gas taxes, auto registration, drivers license and other highway user fees, as well as the property tax I paid on the home I own. Where do you get off sharing my road without paying your fair share of taxes when you go out for an evening walk around the block?

So, truly, it is simply NOT THAT SIMPLE. There are a whole lot of issues to discuss, a lot of different stated and hidden agendas in any taxation proposal. For some reason, some people who drive a car and don't ride a bicycle seem to think that ALL people who ride a bicycle don't drive cars and therefore don't pay taxes for the roads. That line of logic is seriously flawed.

For the past 2 years I’ve chosen to ride my bicycle to work instead of driving my car. It keeps me healthier, it removes one vehicle from the I-5 gridlock problem coming into downtown and frees up just one more parking space. If the weather is particularly bad, I will ride the bus and will occasionally drive if I need to do something after work (10 times in 2008 I did this, compared to 208 times I rode my bicycle). On weekends, I am engaged in recreational cycling. Most of the time, I put my bike in the car and drive to where the ride starts. Often, I will drive as far or farther than I have ridden my bike. Just exactly what is the difference between your tax dollars paid to use the road and my tax dollars spent to use the road? If yours are paying for the roads and mine aren’t, explain why. Did not those very tax dollars I spent, just like you, pay a fair share of 'other improvments' as well? If not, why not? Get out from behind the Us-versus-Them mask and defend your position!

Just because somebody on a bike at any given moment is not actively putting quarters into the slot machine of tax collection does not mean that person is not paying their fair share of taxes.

If you want to make it fair and balanced, then let us make everything we do subject to tolls and user fees.

My house isn't on fire so I don't want to pay for the fire department. Let's make only those people who CALL the fire department pay for them. That is a fair and balanced approach, right? I don't know what kind of work you do, but I've seen the bill for putting out a 1,500 acre wildfire. I know what it costs. So let's make the person who started the fire pay for it. Or perhaps the person who had property that was protected should pay. But certainly, I should not have to pay for it should I?

My kids are not in school anymore so I don't want to fund schools. Why should I pay to educate YOUR children? I already paid for mine. I'm sure that will assure your children, funded totally by your efforts will receive a fair and balanced education.

I don't use the highways in Pennsylvania or Texas or Florida, so I don't want any of my federal highway tax dollars to go to those states. Why should they get my money?

Let's make every single thing subject to use fees for just that single purpose. I don't own a house in New Orleans, so I don't want any of my tax dollars going into rebuilding that city. Let the people who live there pay for it or let the city die.

Every time you enter a national park, you should pay the staggering use fees that would be required if the parks were not subsidized by my federal income taxes. Every time you drive onto an interstate freeway that was paid for by my and my parents federal taxes, pay the tolls that would be required to maintain THAT particular roadway. You want fair? You want balanced distributrution of wealth and responsibility? The possibilities are endless.

When you go down to the city park, pay to use it. We can install entry booths and charge admission to the playgrounds. Think of the jobs created by such an endeavor. Charge the kids to use it. Maybe by the hour. And the public restrooms? Charge for them. Seriously! MY tax dollars built them. My money is literally going down the toilet since I'm not the one using those services. Why should I pay for your luxury? Why should you go free? And what about the skateboard parks we've built over the past several years? I paid for those, too. Why aren't the kids paying a use fee for them?

Then there are places like the Ballard (Hiram Chittenden) Locks and the three draw bridges that I pay for with my tax dollars. The only reason those draw bridges open is to allow pleasure and commercial vessels to move between Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington. Every time a boater passes through the locks, they do so for free. Every time the bridge goes up so the sailboat can go through, it is for free. TO THEM. But NOT TO ME. Make the bums pay, I say. Why should I pay for it? I'm not in a boat. I'm on a bike (or in my car).

Unless and until you are willing to agree to this kind of system, get off your soap box about bicylists not paying taxes or sharing the load. We do plenty, thank you. If you want to hate cyclists, hate us. But at least be honest in your hatred.


jobob said...

Bingo. I don't have kids so why should I have to pay to educate other peoples' kids? Gahhhh.

MimiTabby said...

Wonderful bit of writing. And what about the cyclists who are marginal? What about those people who don't have homes, who can't afford cars, who don't have addresses? Are we going to burden those people, who are already just barely getting by, fortunate to have bicycles? I really think this bike registration thing is wrong for many reasons.

eldiente206 said...

This is an article that needs to be in the paper. Well stated. Perhaps we cyclists can bill the state for the tires that we have to replace for the potholes and debris that is left on the road by the cars driving on the streets we pay for.

North Florida Randonneurs said...

Amen brother and hallelujah. This really does need to be put in the editorial section of the paper.

I seem to remember a line in a movie about "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." I think the cyclists in this country are a growing population due to many reasons and getting madder by the minute at the way we are being treated. Fair use tax indeed.