Oregon to become first state in the nation to tax new riders

By Jeffrey Stern

For a state that prides itself in being one the most bike friendly across the country, the Oregon state legislature passed $15 bike tax on new bikes sold with wheels 26” and larger for more than $200 earlier this month.

Awaiting an expected signature from Democratic Governor Kate Brown, yet opposed heavily by cyclists, advocacy groups and small business owners, the tax is apart of a new $5.3 billion transportation package and is the first of it’s kind.

The imposed fee is expected to pay for approximately $1.2 million per year in bicycle and pedestrian related infrastructure projects around the state, while costing around $100,000 to implement.

The tax, collected directly by retailers and filed in quarterly returns with the Department of Revenue then deposited in the ConnectOregon fund, will help build multi-use trails, bike paths and hopefully increase the accessibility as well as bicycle users across the state.

However, cycling activist and Portland blogger of BikePortland.org Jonathan Maus said it’s “an unprecedented step in the wrong direction.”

“We are taxing the healthiest, most inexpensive, most environmentally friendly, most efficient and most economically sustainable form of transportation ever devised by the human species,” Maus continued.

Rather than charging cyclists for doing some much good for their communities by using alternative modes of transportation, many believe the state should be incentivizing those who ride.

Maus knows that the people of Portland, a city that is often known as the cycling capital of the nation’s, want more people on bikes not less. “This is like a culture war kind of thing,” he said.

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Although Oregon has yet to collect a cent of tax from the thousands of cyclists across the state, another cycling hotbed, Colorado, is also considering proposing a similar fee to collect money based on their plan.

“We will be proposing something similar (to Oregon), they use the roads also” Colorado Republican Senator Ray Scott said in a post on Facebook in a call for a tax on bicycles to help pay for Colorado road maintenance. “Maybe it should just be a license plate? What do you think?” Senator Scott continued on his Facebook page.

Consensus among those opposing this new tax is that demand for bicycles will not increase, but rather suffer from this preposterous legislation. However, only time will tell if and when this levy goes into effect and what the ultimate consequences will be on Oregon’s enthusiastic cycling population as they set a precedent for transportation policy across the nation.

What do you think of the proposed Oregon cycling tax?

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