Thursday, March 12, 2009

$27/year bike registration?

Next door in Oregon, the House of Representatives is looking at House Bill 3008, which would require bicycles to be registered. $54 initial cost, and $27/year thereafter.

The revenue collected would theoretically be used for "bicycle related transportation improvement projects." I believe it's worth noting that the four sponsors of the bill are all from rural areas in Oregon. (And perhaps since they don't sit in urban traffic every day, we need to understand that they might see cyclists as "the problem" rather than "the solution.")

More information can be found HERE.

OSU Economics Professor Patrick Emerson has an alternative viewpoint on his blog - HERE. He says, "The appropriate public policy is to subsidize bikes, not tax them." (Emphasis added.)

It's an easy case to make. Taxes should be levied for one of two reasons - either 1) to raise revenue that's needed by the taxing body to support the service, infrastructure, etc., or 2) to discourage an activity or behavior that the taxing body finds undesirable.

Surely bicyles don't take much toll on the infrastructure. And considering the alternatives, is bicycling something we want to discourage the citizens from engaging in?

I think I'll go with the economist instead of the politicians on this one.

6 comments:

bob t said...

I would be in favor of registering all vehicles (including bicycles) with the everyone paying the same amount per pound of vehicle weight.

Bikeboy said...

Hey, Bob, you might be onto something! At 10 cents / pound a bicycle might cost $3 to register.

Toyota Camry (3300 pounds) - $330

Hummer H2 (6400 pounds) - $640

Clancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clancy said...

Let's try again. I like Bob's idea.

bob t said...

On second thought it would probably be only fair to include the weight of the average adult in the calculation of total bicycle weight. Perhaps 200 pounds (bike + rider) would be about right?

I would be willing to pay $20 a year if others also paid 10 cents a pound.

Maybe something like this could be phased in over 5 years starting at 5 cents a pound and increasing by 1 cent a pound each year. This would give people time to change their ways.

Bikeboy said...

Getting "serious" about registration fees...

Certainly basing the fee on vehicle (either "net" or "gross") is a step toward fairness.

But also, there's no denying that it's unfair to tax solely on the weight, without factoring in miles traveled. I.E., should the Hummer driver pay the same, whether he drives 1000 miles or 50,000? And you also have the issue of out-of-state drivers (or registerers) who pay ZERO in registration fees. (So maybe the gas tax is the fairest.)