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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 12, 2008 at 1:52 PM

Taxes on bicycles

Not the time

Cyclists pay for public infrastructure through our share of property and sales taxes. Are you complaining about trails like the Myrtle Edwards Park or improvements to public spaces along the viaduct that benefit all members of the public [“Impose license fee on King County cyclists,” editorial column, Dec. 7]?

Did you see King County’s report: “Communities Count 2008”?

It stated, “On road vehicles are a leading contributor to air pollution, which also contributes to environmental and human health problems. Traffic congestion causes stress and reduces the amount of time spent with family or exercising. Incorporating alternate means to commute to work such as biking or walking benefits the health of people and the environment.”

It’s not time for cyclists to pay a license fee. Licensing would deter cycling. Improvement of public space should not be burdened onto people wanting to travel on public rights of way by bicycle and who already pay fair share of taxes for local infrastructure.

King County should begin taxing motorists further through establishment of a transportation benefit district already allowed by state law.

King County has no interest in providing barriers and disincentives to bicycling.

— Beck Michaels, Seattle

An easy target

I hope that James F. Vesely’s intent was only to kick the hornet’s nest with his Dec. 7 editorial regarding $25 bike fees. If not, perhaps more facts and less condescension toward the cycling community could support his position.

I am a “serious” cyclist and would pay more for better bicycle facilities. I agree there is a need for frank discussions about user fees and other means to provide adequate funding. However, his point that the King County helmet law is an existing user fee doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

He also did not consider the actual cost of his proposal. For the average cyclist, assuming 500 miles per year, the suggested $25 bike fee would cost $0.05 per mile. With the $0.36 per gallon state gas tax, motorists averaging 20 miles per gallon pay less than $0.02 per mile. So the average cyclist is supposed to brave the fringes of our unfriendly roads to get to a disjointed, incomplete trail network and pay twice as much per mile.

This is the time when we should be encouraging more people to ride rather than erecting barriers.

Our transportation system is already heavily subsidized; I find it ironic that the one mode that is self-powered takes the most heat for it. Cyclists just seem to be the easy target.

— Kirk Wilcox, Lake Tapps

Doesn’t match up

James F. Vesely’s editorial suggesting a bike tax completely misses the mark on many levels.

First and foremost, taxes are a disincentive. Government tends to tax the things people should do less of, and create incentives for the things that build strong, healthy communities.

Cycling as transportation addresses three crises at once: congestion, pollution and obesity. Thus, the government should encourage cycling, not punish cyclists by instituting an additional tax.

The government uses our taxes to pay for lots of services. To think that you will directly use every service that your tax dollars pay for is absurd. But indirectly everyone benefits from such programs as schools that build an educated citizenry, or public transportation that reduces congestion. Bike infrastructure benefits even those who have never pedalled a stroke.

Cyclists already pay taxes in the form of income tax and sales tax. Furthermore, the percentage of transportation funding that go toward pedestrian and bike facilities, at 2 percent, does not match up to the 37 percent of road users who don’t drive.

A bike tax would do more harm than good.

— Sarah Bronstein, Seattle

Comments | More in bicycling, Taxes

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