Should People Who Bike Pay Their Own Way, and How?

A common refrain among politicians who oppose bike infrastructure investments is that people who bike don't pay for those projects. What's a bike advocate to do?

1 minute read

March 21, 2017, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Boise Bike Lane

Dave Cieslewicz, of the Bike Federation of Wisconsin, explains how he responds to a fairly standard question posed to bike advocates: Why don’t cyclists want to pay for their own bike lanes?

As Cieslewicz notes, the idea to tax bike riders goes beyond idle musings. A few years ago the state of Wisconsin considered a budget amendment that "would have imposed a $25 'registration fee' on every new adult-sized bike purchase in the state." Thus, the question requires a good answer. Here, Cieslewicz provides his standard response to the line of inquiry:

…most cyclists are also drivers, so we do pay gas taxes and vehicle registration fees that go to fund roads, including bike lanes, paved shoulders and the like. When we ride state trails – and some local ones – we pay for trail passes. And then there’s the savings in wear and tear on the roads, the lessened need for expensive car parking, the reduction in pollutants and green house gas emissions and the personal health benefits that end up saving everybody money in the long run.

Cieslewicz realizes, however, that his standard inquiry can't defeat the "intellectual Teflon" of the political opposition. One idea that failed to achieve adoption was voluntary bike registration. In this post, Cieslewicz offers another idea: "expanded use of current local registration fee revenues." 

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