City Club members soundly favor excise bike tax
By Andy Giegerich
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
City Club members approved, by an 83 percent to 17 percent count, a motion to recommend that Portland add a bicycle excise tax to fund safer roads.
City Club of Portland members have resoundingly approved a recommendation that, if enacted by elected officials, would add a 4 percent statewide excise tax on new bike sales.
The idea is to use the money to fund safety and research. The group’s advocacy committee will begin working on ways to take the proposal to elected officials.
Eighty-three percent of those voting supported the motion, with 254 backing it compared to 51 members against it.
Sales taxes of any type have garnered little public support in Oregon.
The City Club’s study committee that worked on the proposal found that “bicycling is underfunded in Portland and recommend(ed) better infrastructure, enforcement of transportation laws and community-based bicycling to improve bicycling conditions.
City Club members rejected a motion to license and register bicycles.
Some 52 percent of Sustainable Business Oregon readers, in an informal poll late last month, indicated they’re against the proposal. Another 38 percent favored the idea.
“As a society, we need to encourage biking, and a second tax on adults who ride a bike (second because 97 percent of them also drive a car) discourages it,” wrote Cathy Konsella Hastie in response to the poll. “I do not support usage based taxes as the principal way of raising money, otherwise my daughter would owe the library about a million dollars by now.”
“If we are ever going to move away from carbon based energy and change behavioral patterns we need to reward bikers, build an adequate — and safe — biking infrastructure and penalize automobile use,” added reader Tom Breunig. “A penny-a-gallon gas tax could go a long way towards creating a better biking environment. Despite Portland’s ‘bike friendly’ status, the biking environment here is still very dangerous.”
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