A proposal to impose a 2% tax on sales of new bicycles failed to win approval in Maine, but with tight budgets in states around the country, similar suggestions for funding cycling improvements are likely to follow.
"If bicyclists want bike lanes they should pay for them" is a common argument following stories about bike and pedestrian paths. The point was made again last week, after a blog post on the decision to cut $5 million for bike and pedestrian enhancements from Wisconsin's 2012-'13 transportation budget.
Across the country, local and state authorities have considered various proposals to generate revenue for bike projects - from licensing to the special tax considered in Maine.
Under that proposal, revenue from the 2% tax would have been devoted to building, improving and maintaining “bikeways” along the state’s roads. The purpose, according to the bill’s sponsor, was to make cycling safer, particularly along Maine’s thousands of miles of narrow, rural roadways.
In Milwaukee, blogger Dave Schlabowske offers a variation on that idea: devote all the tax revenue generated on bikes and accessories sales to bike projects.
"If we took the 5% sales tax those sales generate for the general fund and put them in transportation, we would have $7,500,000 to spend on bicycles," Schlabowske wrote in a piece directed to Gov. Scott Walker. "That is way more than you had to cut from the budget.”
In a previous post, Schlabowske detailed how people who ride bicycles already pay a share of the costs of the roads on which they ride.