A proposed $10 billion transportation package introduced by legislators in Washington state includes a controversial $25 sales fee on bicycles that cost more than $500. Eric Jaffe explains why such a tax might not be a bad idea.
After the bike tax was reported in a Seattle Times article last week, the blogosphere erupted with recriminations and counter-arguments. "In explaining why the tax "simply makes no sense," the Seattle Bike Blog pointed to a study showing that riding actually saves local governments money. Cyclelicious noted the disproportionate nature of a bike tax compared to the excise tax on new vehicles purchases."
It's not that those arguments are invalid; in fact there are many reasons to question the value of such a tax (it will only raise $1 million over a decade, it may actually hurt business owners). But as Jaffe explains the real value of the fee would be as "an important starting point in an inevitable discussion about sharing road costs."
"In an ideal world, says [Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance], communities would understand that more bikes on the road mean fewer cars on the road, which in turn means a great deal of maintenance savings. But while bike advocates 'can easily rationalize how we pay our fair share of the road,' the fact is it's hard to explain that position to a car-centric world in a brief window of time. For that reason, a reasonable bike fee can be seen as a small price to pay for silencing the critics."
Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes
The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.
LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’
A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.
LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water
The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.
Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit
For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.
Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages
An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.
California's Stormwater Potential
A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.
Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.