Cyclists don’t pay for the road!

By | November 6, 2015

1437585062756Talk to any bike hater and you will hear the same tired arguments.  They have become cliché.  They include: ‘Cyclists don’t pay for the road!  They should not be allowed to use them.’ or ‘Cyclists never follow the rules of the road.’ or ‘All cyclists should pay registration and have a license.’  Blech!  If I had a dollar for every time I heard one of these stupid comments, I would have a Renovo or Colnago in the bike collection.  Sigh.  Frankly I am sick of it.  These tired brain turds are easily refuted and yet they continue to persist.  It is my intent to refute these cliché bike hater comments in a series of blog posts.  Honestly these posts will be self-serving.  If I meet a bike hater at a party, my responses will be well rehearsed.  If I run into a knuckle dragger using one of these lame bike-lash cliché comments online, I can respond with a quick copy past from one of the posts in this series.  You may feel free to do the same, but please drop in a or #CYCLEBUTTCRACK if you share my work online.

This week’s post will focus on the classic, ‘Cyclists do not pay for the road!  They should not be allowed to use it.’  It is closely related to, ‘Cyclists should be forced to pay to register their bikes.’  I don’t want to confuse the knuckle dragging bike haters with too much information, so I will only cover ‘Cyclists do not pay for the road.’ In this post will be laid this out as if it were an actual conversation at a party or online.  The Bike hater’s comments are in Italics.   The reasoned responses are bold. I have also added a bit of commentary just for fun!

Cyclists do not pay for the road!

Angry Cage driving in a cage.

Angry Cage driving in a cage.

They are freeloaders using the roads for free.  I have a car!  I pay gas tax! I pay vehicle registration fees! I pay for my driver’s license!  Cyclists don’t pay for the road!

Sigh.  I guess we are going to have to have this discussion.  I like to start with the quickest, easiest rebuttal hoping it will silence my knuckle dragging, bike hating friend.  If necessary, I go into greater detail.

The vast majority of cyclists are also drivers.  They own cars and pay all those fees.  Clearly they pay for the road they use when they happen to be cycling. 

Those freeloading cyclists do not pay for the road when they are on their bikes.  I have three cars, a motorcycle, and an RV.  I have to pay fees for all these vehicles.

I was hoping that my initial comment would silence this critic, but alas he has not. Why do these critics frequently seem own so many vehicles?  Add a bike to your stable.  You will be happier!

So by your logic, anyone on the road is required to pay fees for that particular mode of transportation.  What about pedestrians?  They occupy the sidewalks which are part of a road’s right of way.  Should they pay registration and licensing fees?

This may be a bit passive aggressive and usually annoys the bike hater.  It might be rude, but then again you are having a conversation with someone who is calling you a freeloader.

Don’t be ridiculous!  Pedestrians should not have to pay license and registration fees, but cyclists should.  They are freeloaders!    They do no pay their fair share.  They contribute nothing to the roads. They should pay for their stupid little bike lanes.

Well you were hoping that the conversation would have ended, but it is now time to get out the big guns.  Time for everyone’s favorite topic, state and federal taxes and budgets.  Each state’s budget and taxes are unique however, there are a number of common elements that apply everywhere.  I will attempt to speak in general terms so that this may apply where you live.  I have looked into my State’s transportation budget in response to this topic.  It is not fun reading.

Roads are not solely paid for via vehicle registration fees, gas taxes and licensing fees.  There is much more to it than that.  The roads are also paid for by the federal government, property taxes, sales taxes and state income taxes.  These taxes apply to cyclists whether or not they own a car.  They apply to cyclists whether or not they own a house.  Cyclists pay for the roads! 

Cyclists may pay for the roads, but they do not pay their fair share. 

Success!  You have forced the bike hater to back off his initial position!  Though some may never admit to even this small concession.  If you are like me, you are likely getting bored.  It is time to put this conversation to bed and move on.  If you are online, you can go talk to real people.  If you are at a party, you can go get a drink, oeur d’oeuvres and go find someone more interesting to talk to.

Bridge-aboveYou are right.  Cyclists should pay their fair share.  Motorists pay gas tax, licensing and registration.  They also have multi-ton vehicles that take up vast amounts of space and wear out the roads.  Roads are continually expanded and maintained to keep up with vehicle demand.  This is tremendously expensive.  Cycling infrastructure makes up a tiny percentage of the cost of road infrastructure expansion and an even tinier portion of road maintenance.  Furthermore if I commute via my bike, I help to reduce traffic and wear and tear on the roads.  People should be encouraged to ride their bikes!   In fact the non-vehicle related taxes we pay to maintain the roads subsidize drivers like you.  If cyclists were really paying their fair share based on cycling infrastructure and maintenance, we would be due a refund.  Would you like to write me a check?  Now if you will excuse me.  I have to go talk to more interesting people. 

Well there you have it.  This is usually how I handle this discussion.  Of course you may have your own items to add.  Please feel free to share in the comments if you do.  Also feel free to add your own potential topics.

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