HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bikes would not be stuck here

Written April 30th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

At noon on April 28: Stop-and-go traffic trying to get into Albany on Highway 20.

Being stuck in traffic gives you time to think about things such as: “If I was on my bike now, I wouldn’t have to sit here.”  And that means legislators working on a transportation tax package are at least partly on the wrong track.

One of the things they are considering is a tiny little tax on bicyclists, a 1 per cent sales tax on bikes. It’s ridiculous from a revenue standpoint. If you buy a $600 bike — entry level but still good enough to last a very long time — you pay a one-time tax of six bucks for maybe 20 years of riding. Big deal.

But from the standpoint of sensible transportation policy, the state should do the opposite. Instead of taxing bikes, even just a symbolic or nuisance amount, the state should seek to boost bike transportation every way it can. And that should include finding a way to give people an incentive big enough to get them on a bike for their routine, short little trips.

Look at that photo above. Some of those vehicles, such as the laundry truck in the left-hand lane, have to be there as part of work. But if some of the others could be replaced by bikes, think of how much more room there would be on the road. The result: No congestion. Far less fuel consumption, with fewer motors idling while going nowhere. Less wear on the pavement too. And most important, less time wasted sitting still. (And in the long run, no need to replace the Ellsworth Street Bridge.)

What would it take to get people living in and around Oregon towns to use bikes for their routine comings and goings? Climate change might help, but only if we end up with weather like the south of France, and that may take centuries.

While we’re waiting, how about a far more determined program to increase bike safety with dedicated lanes and other facilities? How about tax breaks recognizing that for everybody riding a bike instead of driving a car, society can save money on parking lots and roads? (hh)

 



11 responses to “Bikes would not be stuck here”

  1. John Hartman says:

    I fully agree with Herr Hering’s full-throated, unexpurgated support for pedal power.
    But imagine, if you dare, flying bicycles!

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Flying bicycles? I used to fantasize a lot about them when I was a teenager 50-something years ago. Several decades later, a very fit athlete made it across the English Channel on a pedal-powered plane.

      I think some combination of solar cells, pre-charged batteries, and pedal power might make it practical for those of us with lesser abilities, though it’s still going to take large wings.

  2. HowlingCicada says:

    “””… if some [vehicles] could be replaced by bikes, think of how much more room there would be on the road. The result: No congestion. Far less fuel consumption, with fewer motors idling while going nowhere. Less wear on the pavement too. And most important, less time wasted sitting still. (And in the long run, no need to replace the Ellsworth Street Bridge.)”””

    There you have it, one of the two big reasons for promoting bicycling (and walking and bus riding). The biggest beneficiaries of this “socialist nonsense” are the very same motorheads who resent having 1% of highway funds going to alt transport.

    There’s an additional way to do this, less loved by socialists and more by hard-nosed economists: charge a variable fee for the use of public utilities just enough to keep things working well for everyone. It can apply to electric power, water, highways, and parking. Search “congestion pricing.”

    Yet another solution will be cars with various levels of autonomous control, culminating in self-driving cars, especially on freeways. Best of all: combine all three. Then our highway funds can keep our roads and bridges in good shape instead of being spent on grotesquely expensive projects like widening Hwy 20 and replacing the Ellsworth Street Bridge.

  3. Ray Kopczynski says:

    One small nit to pick: “The result: No congestion.”

    It might result in LESS congestion, but “No congestion?”

  4. centrist says:

    “Dream on, dream on, dream until your dreams come true”

  5. Didi says:

    Suck it up and build more bridges for all the cars in this outdated backward town. More houses! more people! more cars! more bridges

  6. hj.anony1 says:

    Is it time for a consumption tax?

    Congestion like that in the image (Noon Friday) is greatly aided by an accident on Ellsworth bridge.

    • The wreck was cleared away and the congestion persisted, it seemed, quite a while.

      • John Hartman says:

        “The wreck was cleared away and the congestion persisted, it seemed, quite a while.”

        Your single sentence encapsulates nearly the entirety of the human condition.

  7. Tony White says:

    Just another tax to intrude on another small part of our lives. Soon they’ll be taxing the air we breathe. How about cutting spending?

 

 
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