Paying a fair share for road improvements

by Raymond Parker on April 22, 2009

in Advocacy, Cycling

A letter writer to the Victoria Times Colonist, like many motorists, figures cyclists should be licenced and taxed to pay for road improvements “undertaken for their benefit.” Here is my reply:

Victoria Times Colonist, April 22, 2009—Pg. A15

Re: “Cyclists can help pay for improvements,” letter, April 19.

Highway construction and maintenance expenses come from general revenue, not specifically vehicle licensing and gas taxes. By the writer’s logic children’s toys should be taxed to fund schools, or books to fund libraries.

As a taxpaying cyclist, I pay more than my share of the bill for highways.

In economic terms, motor vehicles create negative externalities; the social cost is greater than the private cost. If we are going to demand a fair apportioning of the expense of transportation infrastructure, then cyclists should be subsidized in payment for their positive contribution to the equation.

I would therefore like a refund based on a lifetime of bicycle use, during which I have “banked” a sizable surplus of clean air, unneeded pavement repair, unused gasoline, calmed traffic and health benefits (to myself and others around me).

Diverting a fraction of the funds spent underwriting the burdensome costs associated with automobile use into cycling infrastructure would result in uncounted benefits to society.

Arm against this foolish “cyclists don’t pay their way” argument with facts and logic (Outside links open in new window)

Copenhagenize.comWhose Roads? by Tod Litman | Who Really Pays? A Discussion Paper On Road Ownership by Tony Morton |

For more advocacy links, see the Commuter Resource page.

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