My good friend Jamie sent me a link to this article from our hometown about charging a 2% tax on bicycle sales in the state (Maine) to fund adding paved shoulders to roads. (Maine, being a state completely covered in trees, rarely has paved shoulders or any shoulder at all, which often makes cycling a bone rattling experience and keeps many would be cyclists in their cars)
The comments after the article are not the greatest, but I figured I'd share the article and a few thoughts with you.
Article: "Cyclist's Put Brakes on Surcharge Proposal"
My Thoughts: Public roads are public. People who walk to work do not need to be registered, nor taxed to pay for sidewalks do they? Bikes do not need to be registered or taxed either. (although sales tax in many states does tax bike sales along with everything else) So why are cars registered? Licenced? Insured? etc? Obviously not because they use the roads, but because of their cost on society. Injuries, deaths, property damage, damage to roads, pollution, etc are all huge costs that must be paid for. Neither cycling nor walking incurs these kinds of risks on a scale anywhere near that of the automobile. (although deaths do occur, how many motorists do you think are killed by cyclists in crashes each year?)
Car owners do not pay to use roads, just like elementary school kids don't pay to attend school. That's why they are considered Public. Public roads, Public School, Public Libraries, Public Parks, etc.
Here's an awesome response that makes lots of sense from Ken Kifer's Bike Pages
"If we take this idea seriously that only those who pay gasoline taxes can use the roads, then we are going to live in a very odd world. Grade schools will have to be funded entirely from taxes on candy and toys, libraries from taxes on books and magazines, and police from taxes on guns and home security devices. People from one town won't be able to use any public services in another town, and foreign visitors will be out of luck altogether.
But the simple truth is that taxes are taxes. You pay a tax on your car, not because you drive it somewhere nor because the tax gives you any privilege to do anything, but just because the car is an expensive piece of property, just like your house. You pay a tax on gasoline just as you pay a tax on anything else you buy, and the tax on gas is higher for the same reason that that taxes on tobacco and alcohol are higher: their use creates a greater expense for the community. Motor vehicles tear up the roads, and bicycles do not; they pollute the air, and bicycles do not; they require heavy structures and large parking areas, and bicycles do not. There is no reason why every cent collected from automobiles should be spent to encourage their use. We don't do that with any other tax."
So let's all share the road and be grateful for the services we provide each other! Also remember that when you choose to get in a car, to get on a bike, to walk or take the bus, that you are impacting others and I think in addition to becoming aware of those impacts we should all accept the corresponding responsibilities and costs as well.
Drive safe, ride safe and be safe this week!