Opinion

RADIA: Two-wheelers are getting a free ride

Tri-City News
Tri-City News' contributor Andy Radia
— image credit: tri-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Here’s an idea for our friends at TransLink, our local governments and even the politicos in Victoria: If you want another revenue source to pay for road and bridge infrastructure, start registering and taxing cyclists.

It’s an issue that’s actually being debated south of the border right now.

The lively discourse was recently sparked after a Chicago city councillor proposed an annual $25 fee for that city’s bike riders.

“My rationale is that we have an increase in bike ridership in the city, have provided bike lanes for bike riders and they utilize the road, just like the people who drive cars and trucks,” Ald. Pat Dowell said in October. “If we have to register our cars, bikes ought to be registered as well.”

Other jurisdictions, both in the United States and Canada, have also pondered such a levy.

In 2010 in Toronto, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said that if he were elected mayor, he would introduce a $20 to $30 registration fee for bikes in Canada’s largest city.

“The suburbs don’t want to continue to subsidize these pet projects,” he said with regard to building new downtown bike lanes, according to the Toronto Star. “If those that want to ride bikes want to continue to change infrastructure and cost the taxpayer $4 million a year, then they should pay for it.”

It makes a lot of sense.

In Metro Vancouver, as well, bikers are getting a free-ride — figuratively and literally.

Every day, as a driver, I’m paying gas taxes, tolls and parking levies to help fund our roads and bridges.

A cyclist, on the other hand, is using that infrastructure and, in some cases, special bike infrastructure (i.e., bike lanes) but doesn’t pay any of those user fees. How is that fair?

Opponents to the idea argue that putting the bureaucracy in place to charge cyclists a licensing fee is too costly.

Well, there’s a simple solution to that: charge cyclists more to pay for that bureaucracy.

And while they’re at it, the powers that be need to start enforcing our helmet laws and use the fines collected to help fund road and bike infrastructure as well.

Biking is great for personal health and the environment. But it’s time to stop the free ride.

 

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