Originally Posted by otc
I think my problem with a lot of these however is that nothing is stopping the people in cars from biking. They simply choose not to.
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They don't have to have a specific license, they don't have to have a lot of money (buy a $50 bike, use a $7 a day bike share, whatever), etc. The car drivers are paying for the privilege of polluting the environment, having bigass roads capable of holding multiple-ton vehicles built for them, and the dangers and externalities of the average idiot zooming around in a speeding hunk of metal.
We can charge people different amounts, but as I said, the wear and tear function is exponential, bikes are responsible for essentially zero (i.e. if you adjusted the taxes to account for it, the taxes would be pennies at the most).
The bike infrastructure question is separate....but we don't charge pedestrians for sidewalks. We decided it was better for the city that people be able to walk around instead of getting in their car to drive, and that they should be able to do it safely instead of in the street, so we built them some sidewalks. We have jogging trails too even if not every car driver uses them. Similarly, a lot of cities are realizing that replacing some car trips with bike trips is good for the city and deciding to invest in infrastructure (and I would say some are going overboard...some "protected" bike lane designs are idiotic).
The natural aging of the streets? Well, that would happen without any bikers, and it is only the cars that really need the streets. Without the cars, bikes could handle much narrower roads with much thinner pavement (or none at all).
And as to pricing...yeah, we price things all of the time, but I still see no way to do this. You want to create a new government agency that taxes bikes? Some DMV employee is going to have to figure out that you owe $2.50 for your clunker while that guy over there owes $15 for his carbon road bike that he rides 1000 miles a year (and that other guy owes zero because while he owns 3 mountain bikes, he only rides them off road)? It just isn't rational to try and tax the usage some commodity item--unless you think the British tax on TVs is a great idea.
Or maybe we take the absurdly restrictive step of requiring cyclists to have a license for their 25lb manually powered device. Charge them $15 a year for it? Maybe get a couple of million dollars out of it at most...but have rampant enforcement issues and still make barely a fraction of what car taxes entail? I'm sure lots of bike haters would love to see a license, but it is still absurd (and its not like drivers licenses prevent all of the people I see diddling with their phone while driving every day).
I mean...its a fricking bicycle. It is a 2-wheeled pedal powered recreation device not a multi-ton, many-thousand dollar piece of machinery. Most people use them like they use a skate board or roller blades...for fun and a little exercise, maybe to get somewhere. These things should just be dealt with like any other recreational activity that not everybody chooses to participate in--it is good for the city and is paid for out of general funds just like parks, trails, sidewalks, gardens, public art, etc.
But I guess I should probably stop polluting this thread with this...many people out there have made the same arguments in a much better way, so I doubt I am going to change any minds that those people haven't changed (and AFAIK, none of you are running for office so I don't have to worry too much about you trying to create some silly tax).
I will concede the correctness of the entirety of your post if you can explain how nothing is stopping a family with children in the suburbs, with a modest-length commute that passes over a major highway and through the projects, from riding a bike instead of driving a car. That's my commute exactly. Less than 10 miles each way, so it's not super long, but it's through a variety of environments and it includes dropping off a child. I'm curious how that is supposed to work on my Huffy.
I'm going to assume you can't actually explain how I'm supposed to make this work. However, that's secondary to the point that it illustrates, which is that your position here is categorical despite the fact that it's based on a very narrow perspective that seems to think the whole world operates the way your environment does.