Editorial: Bike fee bill has merits

Bicyclists use the road. Bicyclists should pay to use the road just as cars, motorcycles and trucks do.

State Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood, has proposed Senate Bill 769 to require that almost all bicycles in Oregon be registered and pay a fee of $10. The fine for failure to register is $25.

Some bicyclists won’t be happy. But the bill does have its merits.

The biggest problem with it is if the $10 fee has any relation to reality. Does $10 somehow approximate the wear and tear a bike puts on the roads and its share of costs of developing bike lanes and paths?

There’s also a question of how much money this new government program would cost to run. The decals will be cheap. But how many people will the state have to hire or divert from other tasks to do registration and keep the records? Will the bike fees cover those costs?

There are no good answers to those questions, yet. There’s no revenue or fiscal impact statement for the bill. State Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, told The Oregonian that he believes that the fees would raise so little money that it may not be worth it.

There are some smart things about the bill. Tricycles designed to be ridden by children are exempted. And the money raised would be dedicated to bike paths, bike lanes and other bike-related projects. Bicyclists shouldn’t complain about that.

Bicycling is great exercise. It can be a good way to commute to work. It can lower traffic congestion and have a low impact on the environment. In short, it’s not something to be discouraged. A fee of $10 per bike should not be discouraging, though families with multiple bikes could easily disagree.

Bicyclists complain about drivers. Drivers complain about bicyclists. This bill isn’t going to stop that. But for $10, bicyclists could deflect the criticism that they pay nothing to share the roads.

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