Wash. Dems pitch bike sales tax for roads

Credit: KING / Heather Graf

Wash. Dems pitch bike sales tax for roads

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by KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 6:31 AM

OLYMPIA -- A $25 bike fee included in the transportation revenue package announced Wednesday in Olympia is not sitting well among local cyclists.

The proposal, announced by House Democrats, would raise $9.8 billion over the next decade.  The bike fee is just a small part of that plan, but it's quickly caught the attention of cycling advocates.

"We're deeply concerned by that. We think it's going to be a burden on hardworking business owners," said Evan Manvel with the Cascade Bicycle Club.  "We also think it's going to create a bunch of red tape and cost more to administer than it will bring in."

The proposal now on the table would require everyone who buys a bike for more than $500 to pay the $25 fee.

“It’s a drop in the bucket, it doesn’t make sense; I mean their billion dollar road programs. It’s not gonna help not one bit." It’s just taxing someone extra,” said Mike Sheldon, who is manager at Vancouver Cyclery in Hazel Dell.

Dennis Johnson is president of Vancouver Bicycle Club; he offered a different perspective.

“This is a minor way that a little bit of help can be collected it’s alright- I just hope the administrative costs of collecting the fee don’t exceed the fee,” said Johnson.

"Owning a bike is expensive, especially a commuting bike.  It wears out quite quickly, and they're already dumping lots of costs into a bike, so this added fee - yeah it won't make commuters super excited," said Buck Hazard, who owns Wrench Bicycle Workshop on Dexter Avenue.

He and co-owner Greg Mackenzie are both avid cyclists.  They also make their living repairing bikes.

"It's already hard to be competitive as a bike shop, and then you add a $25 fee on top of that," said Mackenzie.  "It's frustrating."

That's why Cascade Bicycle Club is already planning to fight the proposal. 

The club has lobbyists in Olympia and will make sure cyclists' voices are heard as the proposal moves forward.

"People who bicycle already pay substantial taxes for our transportation system, including the sales taxes, property taxes and federal taxes that together cover two-thirds of all transportation spending in Washington," the group points out in a blog post. "Bicyclists who own cars also pay the same car tabs as everyone else even if they drive less."

They might be more understanding of a fee if the money were being used to make roads in Washington more friendly, but Manvel says that's not the case.

"The other issue is where the money is going, and it's mainly going to big highway expansions, and that's a problem," he said.

The transportation revenue package that includes the bike fee was introduced by Representative Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.

 

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