Should cyclists pay road tax?

You may not be aware of a "experiment" that was recently done in Portland, OR, by a company called Webtrends.
Portland-based Webtrends wanted the public to tweet, e-mail, blog, post on Facebook or visit their website to share it. In the process, they would become part of a rapidly evolving social-networking experiment.

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, vice president of marketing, said the mobile ad campaign had two goals: Show off Webtrends as a local company that employs hundreds in downtown Portland and give people a taste of its marketing-intelligence tools.

"We want to show what we can do and its relevance to the local community," Kaykas-Wolff said. "The core business we're in is not just collecting numbers, but telling the story behind the numbers."

Kaykas-Wolff said Webtrends selected the question now plastered on the MAX train because "biking and taxes are hot topics right now." (MAX trains are part of the Portland mass transit system, similar to our MARTA trains.)

In a few months, the company will spend thousands of dollars covering the same MAX train with the campaign's findings.

For Webtrends, the ways people converse about the topic is just as important as the outcome. The company, after all, specializes, in finding out where people gather online to socialize, get information and do business.

Some cyclists have contacted us, worried that the ad is part of a provocative anti-biking campaign. Not true, Kaykas-Wolff said.

There's no bike-tax agenda. "To be honest, what we care about is the conversation that takes place," he said. "But if that becomes the sentiment, we're open to it."

Well they have released the results of their question. They can be found at In a nutshell, 55.3 percent of those who answered the question were against the idea of cyclists paying a road tax. Among those in favor of cyclists paying a road tax, many cited the cost of bike-only infrastructure.

Now I realize that this forum is biased in regards to being pro-cyclists, but what are your thoughts on the subject? Do you own a car that pays fuel taxes and registration fees? Should cyclists be licensed? Should they be insured? Would you be willing to pay an extra tax if the money went for cycling improvements only?

I would love to hear what the cyclists of Atlanta have to say. Perhaps we can gather some insight to present to our local politicians.

later and keep the wheels spinning..


Joe, the problem you're

Joe, the problem you're trying to solve is cyclists running from cops after breaking a law and getting away. I don't believe this is actually a big issue. People don't get tickets when the community reports them violating the law. This is why you see licensed cars running red lights, speeding, and being generally discourteous to others. Having a license plate and paying taxes does not make you more likely to follow the law.

To the article at hand: Why didn't the just make the question "Should you stop beating your wife?"

It's such a loaded question. Yes, the educated people who understand how poperty taxes work will make some noise, but they've probably already made noise in the past. The great majority of people will say nothing, but think, "Hey! Yeah! They should! Damn cyclists getting the road for free!" and just store it in their brain for the next time they see a cyclist on the road.

This doesn't inspire discussion, it encourages people already on soapboxes to repeat themselves, and everyone else just internalize more hatred.

(This may sound like I'm

(This may sound like I'm starting off-topic, but I'll work my way back.)

As a bicycle commuter, I get infuriated at cyclists who ignore stop signs and red lights, and who weave dangerously (and illegally) between lanes. Unfortunately, enforcement is minimal, and those of us who are law-abiding cyclists are left to take the ire of motorists who (irrationally, I will admit) blame all cyclists for the actions of a few.

Integral to enforcement is identification and penalization. With cars, that works by having each vehicle display a license tag, and requiring each driver to have a driver's license. I would be in favor of a similar license-and-tag infrastructure for bicycles. And it only seems reasonable that it would be supported by taxes.

And by increasing our visibility as stakeholders through bike-specific taxation, we could lobby for better alignment of bicycle-centric elements of the infrastructure. A pet peeve of mine is that the bike path lights along Freedom Parkway have been non-functional for months, because the Department of Parks and Recreation, which manages the path, doesn't have the money to fix them -- but the road portion of Freedom Parkway, managed by the Department of Transportation, is lit up like a runway. The City is already sympathetic (but apologetic) -- but if bicycles were taxed, we'd have a lot more leverage to get problems like this treated with the attention that they deserve.