Bike-friendly Oregon has added a tax on new bicycle purchases. A state senator from Grand Junction, Colorado is pushing his state to do the same.
To many cyclists, this appears to be a silly and petty attempt to get them off the road and into cars "where they belong." But really -- a $15 tax isn't going to stop too many people from buying a bike. (Although, it's going to cost the states more to collect the taxes than what they receive. Still, it's the principle that counts -- right?)
But maybe this is the very kind of thing that would legitimatize the presence of cyclists on the road -- at least in the minds of some drivers. If bikes had a license plate with tags they would be screaming -- "Look! I belong here, too!"
The deeper more troubling issue is our incessant worrying over someone getting a "free ride" in society. Will we start taxing walking shoes because pedestrians should have to pay for sidewalks? We don't have enough collective sense to realize that society as a whole reaps a plethora of benefits when individuals leave their cars home to walk or pedal --
- less stress on the transportation infrastructure,
- healthier population needing fewer hospital beds,
- increased mental health levels,
- reduced criminal activity (cyclists and pedestrians are more tuned into what's happening on the street than drivers),
- less dependency on dirty fossil fuel -- foreign and domestic,
- reduced carbon footprint,
- cleaner air,
- clearer thinking which adds to the national productivity levels...
Personally, I wouldn't mind the $15 tax but let's look at the bigger picture before we jump too quickly onto this tax train. There is more at stake here than a few tax dollars.