Skip to comments.Now They've Done It: A Sin Tax on...Bikes
Posted on 03/08/2013 5:22:06 PM PST by Kaslin
Well, it took longer than I thought, but a government has finally out-greened itself. In the great state of Washington, the legislature wants to tax… wait for it …breathing.
“Holy exhalations!” you say, “Is it true?”
Yes old chum, I’m afraid it is. It would appear the folks on Washington’s equivalent of a capitol hill have come up with a transportation package that tabs out at 10 billion clams, which is a lot, even for a coastal state. Okay, that was a lousy play on words. MOVING ON THEN…
Actually $10 billion is a lot of money, even in a day and age in which the national debt probably increased by that much in the time it has taken me to put the period at the end of this sentence.
So from where will all these dollars flow? Well, from a gasoline tax naturally. Anymore you can’t have a left-wing state without a gasoline tax on all of those icky carbon spewing vehicles. C’mon, you should have been able to guess that one on your own!
But according to a handy flyer provided by the Seattle Times, a gas tax is only part of the plan. There is also an increase in the commercial gross weight fee, a Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, a Hazardous Substance Tax, two bonds (“Bond” is a nice word for “taxes”, by the way.) and… drumroll please…a $25 tax on bicycles that cost more than $500. The legislators in Washington figure that should garner about a million bucks for roads.
Yup, Washington State wants to tax bikes. The legislature there want to tax gas saving, non-polluting bikes powered by the human machine that emits no disgusting substances to befoul the air. You might be tempted to say “Hey, bicyclists use the road, they ought to pick up at least some of the tab.” And you would be right. But according to one legislator, it is the amount of carbon exhaled by cyclists that merit them getting hit with this tax. And imagine my chagrin when I discovered it was a Republican spouting this bit of nonsense. In an article on The Examiner website by Mikael Thalen, GOP State Representative Ed Orcutt is quoted as saying: “A cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride."
Insert laugh track here.
So, a Washington Republican finally succeeded where Jacque Cousteau, Sir David Attenborough, England’s Prince Phillip, and Ted Turner could not- he has pinned climate change onHomo sapiens. And apparently also on his semi-high-end bike.
I know folks who eschew cars for bikes because of the cost and because they want to lessen their personal carbon footprint. That’s fine, do as thou wilt, oh pilgrim. They are put out by motorists who don’t give them the space they need, or call them “dirty hippies” as they drive by. Conversely, I know motorists who are annoyed by what they perceive to be an elitist attitude by cyclists, who seem intent on making themselves a nuisance on streets and roads. That’s a debate for another time. (Personally, I just wish they would not ride so close to the white line on the side of the road. I always think they are going to swing out into traffic.)
What is germane to this discussion is that bicycles have at best a barely discernible impact on roads. That, and in this case we are essentially talking about what amounts to BREATHING TAX. The problem with that is breathing is one of those things everyone does. Unless you are a fetus, a corpse or an astronaut, you are at this moment inhaling and exhaling; and apparently inflicting damage on the atmosphere.
A story goes that Mark Twain was once trapped by a bore who lectured him at length on the Great Hereafter. The man said to Twain: “Do you realize that every time I exhale some poor soul departs this world?” Twain is reported to have replied “Really? Have you tried chewing cloves?”
Apparently for the elected officials of the Evergreen State, chewing cloves will not suffice.
They feel it is time to tax people simply for existing.
Oooo! I’m sending this on to the City Council in ‘The People’s Republik of Madistan.’
The Liberal heads that will be exploding will be ever-so-much FUN!
I’m not very familiar with bicycle prices, but I bet there will be a lot of them in Washington for $499.
Don’t do it, you’re just giving them new ideas.
This is not news. It's been their policy in just about every country where they come to power.
Any quality bicycle is going to be a minimum of $300 at a department store, and you probably cannot get a decent bike for anything less than $500 at an independent bike shop.
They want to tax you coming and going. The fact is that bicycle riders do pay for themselves when they ride bikes, because they are not incurring any costs to society, forvthe most part.
...and how on earth is the government going to know what you paid for a bike unless... why of course... they’ll have to mandate registration and licensing of bikes like cars. Voila! More taxes! Yay!!!
Insert Seattle joke here ----->
This is being pushed by a Republican in a snarky effort to humiliate Democrats.
“.....it is the amount of carbon exhaled by cyclists that merit them getting hit with this tax.”
Shouldn’t fast walkers also pay a breathing tax.
All that yelling at sporting events... there is some more money!
I suspect that 20 year olds have greater emissions of carbon dioxide during longer lovemaking sessions.
You’re right it is. The question though is: Will they get it? Liberals are not that smart with their pea-sized brains
Was pulled back and the guy apologized for his statement.
I think you are correct. That’s exactly how I interpreted the action as well.
TRUE! It was a tongue in cheek comment made by conservative Ed Orcutt and the media (dumb as it is) took it wrong.
The irony is that the left loves bicycles, but they also love taxes and many see cyclists as using the roads for free.
The other irony is that while he was poking fun at global warming they all missed the point of regulation CO2.
Demonstrating absurdity by being absurd....Rush would be proud.
If you car drivers were more careful, you wouldn’t need bike lanes. :)
And if bicyclists actually obeyed traffic laws, they wouldn’t get plastered so often. Don’t even try to deny this, I work on a transportation choke point that is very popular with bicyclists. I see them blowing through red lights, stop signs, blocking traffic by riding 3-4 abreast, ignoring signs directly giving them instructions, etc... One of the greatest days I had at work was when a bicycle club was doing a ride with hundreds of militant spandex clad two wheeled fudds. A county Sheriff’s deputy was returning to town from a call and got blocked by militant two wheelers in a curvy road. He waited until a safe stretch and cited every one of them for impeding traffic. The schadenfreude was delicious listening to those metrosexual he/she’s whine about being cited.
99% of bicyclists give the others a bad name. How many stop signs and red lights do you blow through because of your clip shoes? They should have GPS trackers and be charged by the lane mile to maintain their access to roads funded by dedicated gas taxes.
True, if you are talking about the spandex wearing exhibitionists who ride in packs.
Not true, if you are talking about the occasional single rider just trying to get from point A to point B safely. Been there, done that. Too many motorists treat us all like the pack jerks even if we obey the rules of the road, ride single file and don't crowd the center line. Worst offense is that that they try to run us off the road even when there is plenty of room to pass.
1st. I used to ride a bike year-round, but I don’t anymore.
2nd As a bicyclist, the only road rule I did break was not coming to a full stop, at a stop sign. I would slow down to a near stop until I ascertained that it was completely safe to continue. I did stop for all red lights, and any other traffic situation.
3rd.I cannot tell you, as a bicyclist, how often people drove without due care and attention. Even though I routinely rode near the curb, people would still drive past me with only a few inches to spare. They would also stop without reason or make right-hand turns without notice.
There are some bad bicyclists, sure. But experience has taught me that there are a lot more bad drivers out there, then bicyclists.
I remember quite a few years ago in my heyday (90’s) how we joked in the office about the ridiculousness of government. We used to joke that one day, “They’ll tax the air you breathe!” Well, we’re here now.
I have no problem with paying to help maintain the roads, as long as I get to have an entire full-sized lane to myself, just like any other vehicle. :)
These are the kinds of bicyclists I see all the time. I see a greater percentage of bicyclists behaving badly than motorists - and since I have a camera, it’s not just my perception.
Yet another obliviot bicycle operator - obstructing traffic, ignoring road signs and traffic controls and generally making an obstruction of themselves...
Typical pedalbikist - no lights, no helmet, no visible front or rear reflectors, no turn signal or gesture - probably will be wondering why nobody sees him when he gets run over by a municipal bus at night.
At first I thought I’d found the first totally law-abiding pedalbikist in Dallas. But then... well, watch the video.
This is an excellent idea. My motorcycle causes the same road wear as these clowns do, but I have to pay road taxes and fees every year. They should have to pay for the upkeep of the signals, the bridges, and everything else like motorcyclists. In fact, if they want to ride in the street, they should be required to be licensed and plated like a motorcycle.
No free rides for anyone.
Let me put it to you this way. I think that people tend to notice the mistakes of drivers in whatever vehicles they don’t like and will tend to minimize the mistakes of drivers they do like.
I can speak from experience on this matter. I was generally a good bicyclist, when I rode. As I said, I obeyed most rules of the road, and would only take chances when it was completely safe to do, including in regards to other drivers. I can also tell you, that at least once per ride, there would somebody who would drive carelessly enough to cause me to have concern for my safety, about two times a day as I rode my bike about 14 miles each way from home to work.
I don’t deny that there are unsafe and stupid riders out there, but there are just as many, proportionally speaking, stupid and careless drivers out there as well. I’ve seen them and I’ve been just about hit by many,of them, if it weren’t for me taking evasive actions.
I’m sorry, but no. I have reviewed my camera footage carefully from time to time and of the bicyclists riding in the street, 93 out of 100 will behave badly. Cars is less than 50 out of 100, motorcyclists are a little higher than that. It’s not just ‘noticing,’ it’s counting vehicles on the footage and tallying stats.
Then bicyclists should have the same 12’ lanes as any other vehicle.
Then you must be one of the 50/100 drivers, if you’re busy counting stats as you’re driving.
Nope. I’m counting AFTER. I have a helmet camera that catches it all for me so I can count later at my leisure.
Nice try, though.
Our respective differences could be due to the differences between our countries, like wider roads in Canada for instance. If your roads are narrower than us, that would cause some stress while passing a bicyclist.
Then they’d actually be legitimate road vehicles and share with all the other ones instead of having part of the road taxes siphoned off for a special lane that’s empty most of the time.
I ride a motorcycle, a very quiet motorcycle. What stress?
Further, they’re the ones ignoring traffic laws and whining when they get caught or blame car drivers when ignoring the rules results in splattered pedalbikist.
If you’re expecting them to contribute equally, than they need an equal share of the road, or else cars would bully them onto,the side of the road. It would, effectively, cause them to pay a disproportionate share of taxes, as they would pay an equal amount of road tax, but not get an equal share of the road.
Who pays for the bike paths? I'm not allowed to drive a motorized vehicle on them.
There should be a $5,000 tax per year on all bicycles with an exemption for anyone under 16.
Elite bicyclists have leveraged "Smart Growth" initiatives to claim a car lane for themselves. We are routinely seeing roads with two car lanes each way being reduce to one each way with a bicycle lanes replacing the lost car lanes. These lanes are paid for with revenues from gas taxes. Bicyclists contribute squat. They add to longer trains of cars in the reduced lanes increasing gridlock making travel longer using more gas thereby adding to the supposed CO2 pollution. Bicyclists are anti-green all the while praising themselves. They are fakes.
And I think all cars should have a billion dollar liability insurance, because taking a life, even if by accident, is priceless.
Hey, the EPA opened this door when it declared CO2 a “pollutant.”
Courts would disagree. Not just in the case of bicyclists, either.
I was just meeting one absurd statement with another. Any taxes that would have to be charged need to reflect actual costs that bikes inflict on roads. Very few people, and there bikes weigh enough to do any damage on the roads.
I am not advocating everybody ride a bike, but if they did, there would be no such thing as pot holes and roads would only have to be replaced about every 500 years.
My main opposition to taxing bicyclists is that, for low income earners that is often their only way around. Their alternative, if bicycling were to be made unaffordable, is simply dependency, because they wouldn’t be able to afford to work at all. We Freepers bitch about the dependents not working, so what do some here want to do, make those close to dependency dependent.
I personally will gladly absorb whatever small cost that a bicyclist might cost, in terms of road, knowing that they might be working as a dishwasher, as opposed to being on welfare. Sure, some might be some jerk yuppie, who makes if hard on everybody, but most bicyclists are not jerky yuppies.
The argument for bicycles’ lack of wear on the road also applies to motorcycles. Yet motorcycles have to pay road tax to maintain the roads and signals, and bicycles don’t. They should have to pay like motorcycles, or motorcycles should stop being taxed.
I would also point out that bicyclists cannot be held responsible for their misbehavior on the roads. They have no license to prove they are familiar with the road rules, or to be taken away for misbehavior. They display no license plates for other road users to report misbehavior to the authorities with.
You want to be an equal road user, you have to accept equal responsibilities in my book. Otherwise, you stay on the sidewalk.
While I agree with you that motorcycle wear on the road is fairly minimal, more than bicycles and less than cars, the best way to handle it is that roads get paid through tax on gasoline, not any other tax. That’s something to lean on politicians about. Politicians should not be allowed to get away with sneaking other taxes through to pay for things that other taxes were originally set up to do.
If you want bicyclists to be an equal partner, they need an equal share of the road. That would also mean licensing kids, and fining them directly and impounding their bikes when they break a rule on the road.
Actually, they cause the same amount of wear in multiple tests - negligible to undetectable. Zero equals zero.
Also, what of diesel, electric and natural gas powered cars? If you only tax gasoline, why should these people get a free ride?
Tax *all* road users or tax none. No free riders.
Don’t have a problem with that, as that is what other countries do with bicycles. But no equal share until they are equally regulated and responsible - that means licensing, registration, safety inspection, operator licensing and appropriate use taxation. If I have to do it for a motorcycle, they should be held to the same standard.
Otherwise? Stay on the sidewalk.
People wear out sidewalks, when they walk on them. So they should be charged a walking tax to pay for it.
Pedestrians do not wear down sidewalks beyond the normal weathering caused by exposure to the atmosphere. Proven by multiple studies. Sorry.
Also, more proof that bicyclists don’t obey traffic rules: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YEmBBWdxwQ