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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 15, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Tax the cyclists

Pick on someone else

I was employed for 17 years until this past year at a biotech company downtown and I commuted to work almost every day. I have been subjected to rude, inconsiderate, unsafe and aggressive drivers a few of those days, but for the most part I have found drivers in Seattle to be courteous and aware of bicyclists. The same I feel is also true for the large majority of bicyclists [“Tales of two cycling cities, Chicago and Honolulu,” James F. Vesely editorial column, Dec. 14].

I also drive a car, and I think you will find that most bicyclists are also drivers, but the reverse is probably not true. This point is important, since many people that try to single out cyclists for not paying their way.

You would be surprised at how many bicyclists would support something like this [paying a cycling tax] if they felt that they were getting something in return. In actuality though, a “use” tax as you propose is normally proposed by someone who is a nonuser to pick on some group that they feel is getting more than their fair share.

A case in point would be the trail fee charged for use of our national forests. This was a politically motivated program that hasn’t paid much in the way of providing more trail maintenance or safety at the trailheads. If this program were equitable, it would have also charged true costs to timber companies, mining companies, cattle ranchers and everyone else who benefits from the use of the forests.

At this time, we should be encouraging as many people to get out of their cars as possible. I don’t understand how people can sit in their cars day in and day out wasting their time and gas. I do have to drive in our traffic occasionally, and I know that a few bicyclists are not the reason why I have to move at a snail’s pace during certain times of day.

If we could focus on providing more and safer routes for bikes and more efficient mass-transit choices, I think we can create a community in which all of us would enjoy living and one that we could be proud of as well.

If you really want to be provocative, propose a $1-per-gallon gas tax to fix our roads, provide for realistic mass transit, and to provide for realistic ways for people to get around effectively. Then you may get support for a bicycle tax from bicyclists.

Don’t pick on one group, such as bicyclists, without first paying attention to what is causing the problems on our roads to begin with.

— Rob West, Seattle

Comments | More in bicycling

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