Straight from the horse’s mouth: State Senator Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) says at this point he’s not planning to write a bill proposing a new tax on bicycle purchases in Colorado.
This is a little different than his Facebook post saying “We will be proposing something similar, they use the roads also,” and linking to an article about Oregon’s $15 bike tax – that post can no longer be seen on his page.
Instead, he tells 9NEWS, he was just trying to start a conversation on social media to see if it should be something he pursued. Based on the response – backlash, really – Scott says he’s nowhere near proposing any bill, but actually interested in the public safety conversation his post generated.
The firestorm started Wednesday morning on the senator’s Facebook page. The original post can’t be seen, but the senator said the state should follow Oregon’s example and impose a $15 tax on adult bike purchases of $200 or more.
In Oregon, the new tax is part of an $5.3 billion transportation bill that has bicycle advocates nationwide crying foul: the League of American Bicyclists’ interim director has even come out against the tax. Bill Nesper told the Washington Post the tax will push people away from biking.
“Why aren’t we incentivizing bicycling? Nesper asked the Post. “I think as a policy, having a bicycle tax is troubling.”
The new tax hasn’t officially become law in the Pacific Northwest state – and Scott maintains it was something he was just floating out to his constituents to see how it would be taken.
“But I’m getting both support for a concept like that and a lot of opposition,” he tells 9NEWS. “And I don’t mind saying probably more opposition than support.”
He’s not kidding. On his Facebook page – on the two posts still up about the measure, which can be found here and here – quite a few commenters weren’t buying it.
“No, we don’t need another tax,” wrote one. “I think you should start taxing pedestrians for crossing the road,” quipped another. “If I drive my car and pay taxes, why should I pay again for my bicycle?” asked a third.
Some, however, pointed out how small a tax $15 per purchase was. “I think a 15.00 fee won’t kill the cyclists!” wrote one Facebook user.
Scott, now, says he’s focused on another issue: safety.
“At this point, you know, if somebody said, are you gonna write a bill to do what Oregon did, I’m gonna say no, of course,” he says. “I’m trying to get input at this point but it’s interesting to me that it’s started a public safety conversation.”
That conversation is a debate Denverites know well: the battle for the road between cyclists and motorists. Scott points out how daunting it can be biking, sometimes a little recklessly, on a bike next to a 4,000-pound vehicle.
Scott says he’s got concerns when it comes to the state’s laws concerning bicyclists and motorists.
“Does it require some new law? At this point it’s way too early to tell,” he says. “But I think it would be a great idea for the cycling community to come together with motorists and maybe have some type of discussions about additional safety measures because we don’t want anyone getting hurt out there.”
A February 2016 analysis by the city and county of Denver about collisions between cars and bicycles found that there were a little over 1,300 crashes in the city involving bikes between 2008 and 2012. A little over half of those resulted in injury.
So, what might come of Scott’s Facebook proposal? At the moment – nothing. He says he wants to continue speaking to his constituents to find out exactly what they want.
If you’d like more information on the Oregon tax, check out this story on the state’s recently passed transportation bill.
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