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Why a Bicycle Tax Might Not Be Pointless After All

Some bike advocates see fees as a useful starting point in an inevitable discussion about sharing road costs.
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Last week Democrats in the Washington state legislature introduced a $10 billion transportation package with a number of revenue elements. According to the Seattle Times, the proposal increased the gas tax by 10 cents every five years until it reached nearly half a buck per gallon, created a "car-tab tax" for .7 percent of a car's value, and a $25 sales fee on bicycles that cost more than $500. The latter item was included as "a nod to motorists who complain that bicyclists don’t pay their fair share."

As one might expect, the reaction from bicycle bloggers was swift and sharp, with Streetsblog calling the bike tax "pointless." A number of strong counter-arguments were raised in the discussion. 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.