Urban Velo

Washington Car/Bike Tax Proposal

gastaxThis Seattle Times article details a $10 billion transportation package brought forth by House Democrats that would raise taxes on gasoline by 10 cents, increase car tabs and charge a fee on bike sales.

The fees would generate $10 billion dollars over a period of ten years that would get funneled into a number of highway and bridge projects. Now, I’m not a resident of Washington State and I’m not about to figure out the ratios on this, but I’m going to hope that whatever funds are raised through bicycle sales fees proportionately mirror the amount of funds spent on bicycle specific transportation needs, because as is explained in the article, it seems like all this money is going to benefit automobile traffic, save a bridge upgrade or two.

The bicycle sales fee was apparently an appeasement to drivers who feel cyclists “don’t pay their fair share”. Considering the benefits of cycling, low impact on roads, and subsidies to the automobile industry and its drivers, this sort of appeasement seems entirely unnecessary.

I won’t soapbox on this too much, however. If you are from the area and have a more nuanced perspective on this transportation package, feel free to add your opinions in the comment section.

About Scott Spitz

Commuting, touring, kid hauling, couriering, mechanic work, sales, advocacy, fixed, free—Scott has had his hands in it all over the years.

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  1. ChrisFebruary 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    It looks like the proposal would be a $25 fee on sales of bikes over $500. They hope to bring in a million dollars over the course of 10 years.
    To me its embarrassing that we even have this included in the proposal, I dont see how they would even enforce or pay for this program with the $100K annual revenue they appear to be projecting. What about selling the wheels separate from the rest on bikes over $500, tax or no tax? $500 wheelset get a fee too? $500 service ticket? What if that ticket replaced over XX% of the original bike, would that count as a bike over $500? Framesets over $500? Will there be documentation to show you have paid this fee, or will it be an additional responsibility for bicycle shops to deal with?
    And then to add insult to injury, this is “a nod to motorists who complain that bicyclists don’t pay their fair share”?! Rather than appeasing those who have a fundamental misunderstanding of how roads are payed for, we should try educating the public about where this money already comes from.
    I imagine a voluntary state-wide bicycle fund would raise a lot more than 100K a year for bike/pedestrian infrastructure. The annual auction for the Bicycle Alliance of WA raises almost that much in one night every year.

  2. PeteFebruary 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Sell an expensive new bike piece by piece, each piece being under $500.

    Problem solved

  3. SmittyFebruary 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Lived here forever and Washington has always had one of the most regressive tax systems in the country. Not a big surprise that more sales tax is as creative as they get in Olympia. Trying to hit cyclists with a tax doesn’t suprise me. But since I saw the governor and his entourage cycle past my home a couple weeks ago there’s a chance we have a friend in the governor’s mansion who might lean on his fellow democrats to find that $1M some other way. Still, I don’t mind paying something if it will make the idiots shut up about cyclists not paying their fair share. There is just no explaining to some of these people how most of us cyclists pay the same taxes they do. I roll up 4,000 – 5,000 miles a year commuting on my bicycle and find that drivers for the most part here are tolerant of cyclists. Most share the road. There are a vocal few who feel the roads belong to cars and don’t mind sharing that opinion along with their middle finger at the occasional stop light. Same as anywhere, I suppose. I am also one who believes we don’t need to spend money on separate bike lanes when we have 4 million miles of paved roadway in America that I can ride on already. I’d rather see the money go into public transporation improvements that will get more people out of their cars. But I suppose the upside for funding new roads is that means more roads for me to ride on!

  4. kristinFebruary 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Moved to WA 2+ years ago. So many things about this state make me want to go back to Oregon. We pay out the a$$ here for everything and nothing gets done. I remember all the years I lived in OR and the state had an income surplus and they’d kick it back to all the taxpayers. Sigh.

    ALSO WTF PUBLIC TRANSIT ANYONE!? No, let’s just fix potholes. Great. I agree with Smitty – there are a lot of people that simply will not ride bikes for transit for their own reasons. But they would take transit if it was 1) faster 2) easier 3) cleaner 4) wider-reaching.

  5. Washington State's New Transportation Tax Plan - Bike in Review | Bike in ReviewFebruary 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

    [...] blogs have sounded off on the proposal, all questioning the reason for the bike tax.  I would love to [...]

  6. ascpghFebruary 27, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Seems another subsidy to the interests which receive road and highway fund for repair work, reaching into whatever pocket in a bill under whatever deception necessary to give cover from the actual collection of these obligations and distribution of their proceeds. States are losing big on fuel taxes; they use baseline budgeting to spend those receipts ahead of time and if volume fuel consumption is down, they need to replenish the sum of taxation somehow because no one would ever expect the all-doing, pure as snow government to tighten up and reduce their budget, ever.

    One million dollars? That’s it? I will assure you that once you familiarize yourself how fast government can run through $1M this will look like a simplistic, cosmetic, token swipe for the benefit of the road workers interest. They probably spent that much on consultants fees to assess the number of urinals in public buildings last month.

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