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Old 09-07-17, 08:58 PM   #51
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I wonder if we're seeing a generation gap here. Not in chronological years but in years as an active cyclist/bicycle tourist

I suspect that the "older" cyclists that cut out teeth riding roads and are fully adapted to and comfortable with that will see it one way, and don't want to foster any perception that maybe that's not a good thing.

OTOH - those who came later, in an era of advocacy for separated bike lanes in cities, strong peer pressure for wearing helmets, and a general perception of the "dangers" associated with riding in traffic will tend to favor more separated bike lanes.

I have no real idea how significant the generational difference may be, but it's something we might think about and examine in ourselves anytime we debate the pluses and minuses of interstate bike ways, along with other advocacy issues.

-------------

For my part, besides besides being used to riding the blue highways, I have no interest in touring via bikeways for the simple reason that they're likely to be too sterile. A big part of touring (for me) is the people and places I see along the way. The blue road network runs right through the centers of the various small towns I love to visit, whereas bikeways tend to be routed around them.
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Old 09-07-17, 09:32 PM   #52
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In short, the people that are going to make use of long distance cycle paths are already doing just fine on the road. Relatively few people are going to decide to take a cross country journey on a bike, or even interstate, simply because they now have a path to do it on.
On local bike paths I see lots of experienced riders with fancy gear but few of them on even the safer local roads. Many folks consider riding on any road an unacceptable risk.

Would be expensive but not unimaginable to have SF-LA & NYC-DC trails built. I think they'd be popular for both int'l & domestic tourists esp w/current emphasis on "experience" travel. NYC-Philly would be a logical first segment: 160 km/100 mi easy 2-day ride w/access to trains/planes.
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Old 09-07-17, 09:44 PM   #53
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Missouri has a rail to trails across the entire state. They are about to open a second.
I don't think people realize the shear number of abandon rail lines available.
This is an asset to small towns.
If they were connected across the nation people would be more interested in "a cross country trip" by bicycle.
Fear of being hit by a car is a real concern to a non-bicycle person.
If this fear is alleviated more people would be motivated.
I agree with the OP.
It doesn't have to fall within the federal budget. Each state can take care of their own.
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Old 09-07-17, 10:26 PM   #54
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As I mentioned earlier, I have no problem at all with riding on the roads ... been doing that since I was 6 years old.

(Yes, @FBinNY , perhaps there is a generation gap thing ... I grew up in the day and age where parents shoo-ed kids outside to go and play after dinner, and didn't really check where we were until about 9 pm when we were supposed to be heading home. I cycled everywhere as I kid!)

However, I have and do make use of trails when they go where I want to go, and just for something different.

I posted a link to the rail trails thread I started some time ago ... yes, there are some nice ones out there.

I wouldn't be interested in trails everywhere when shoulders on roads are actually a much better option, but sure, trails through some touristy areas can be nice.

I think I mention the rail trails in Victoria in that thread ... and also the trail out of Bordeaux in France, among others.
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Old 09-07-17, 10:47 PM   #55
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I wonder if we're seeing a generation gap here. Not in chronological years but in years as an active cyclist/bicycle tourist
I would agree that there is something cultural -- even though I haven't counted the number of pro vs indifferent to trails in this thread, my impression is that the vast majority in this forum do not believe that an interstate network is a possibility, and that most are happy enough if roads have wide shoulders.

I am new to bike touring, so maybe this affects my perception. But what if we were talking about walking? Say you'd envision walking from Maine to Georgia. Would you rather walk the Appalachian Trail or the shoulder of the I-95? May sound silly (AT, obviously, at least for me) but if you google "walking across America" you find blogs of people pushing grocery carts along highways.

We met a couple, this past summer, who are probably actively involved in the promotion of cycling (she was about to fly to give a lecture about alternative transportation, her husband told us how he'd ride from home to his family's vacation destination, when he was a teenager). They'd fit your "older" tourer description, both wrt their experience and demographic profile. They asked us where we were coming from (Quebec city to Maine, en route to PEI, with our kids) after which they proceeded to tell our kids how lucky they were and so on. We went on talking about our previous trip on California's west coast, and they said how incredible it would be if there were a trail, instead of the current route on the shoulder of often very busy roads. They referred to The Netherlands and Scandinavia. And so on. We both agreed that trails are great. They were possibly more concerned with safety. We were thinking about the scenery and the annoying noise of cars and trucks overtaking you at speed. You get the idea. (our kids loved Acadia NP's carriage roads; highway 1, not so much).

So, yes, different cultures. But I would not bet the house that these differences are rooted in experience. I'd suggest that the kind of experience you've had will shape your expectations, in part. And that there is something fundamentally different between a road trip and a stroll, so to speak.
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Old 09-07-17, 11:05 PM   #56
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....and that most are happy enough if roads have wide shoulders.

I am new to bike touring, so maybe this affects my perception. But what if we were talking about walking? Say you'd envision walking from Maine to Georgia. Would you rather walk the Appalachian Trail or the shoulder of the I-95? .....
I noted with interest that many of the experienced tourists mentioned shoulders, because I never cared about shoulders and prefer those roads that are too unimportant to bother build any wider than necessary. Actually my favorite roads are the two lane side roads which rarely have shoulders, but also have low enough traffic that drivers have no problem moving across and sweeping past with plenty of room.

As for the walking analogy, you mentioned two extremes, but there's plenty in between. However, it's a poor analogy because the objectives are so different. If they built a bike trail that went someplace, that was otherwise inaccessible, I'd go for that, but smaller roads are as close as we get to that.

I lived in or near NYC all my life and have many ridden tens of thousands of miles in the congested eastern corridor, but very few of those miles are on roads wider than 2 lanes, including trips NYC to Phila, NYC to DC, NYC to Boston or Cape Cod. The roads are there, and though not always the shortest route, not big detours either. It just takes a bit more planning to find very nice roads that parallel the major highways.
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Old 09-08-17, 12:23 AM   #57
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I noted with interest that many of the experienced tourists mentioned shoulders, because I never cared about shoulders and prefer those roads that are too unimportant to bother build any wider than necessary. Actually my favorite roads are the two lane side roads which rarely have shoulders, but also have low enough traffic that drivers have no problem moving across and sweeping past with plenty of room.

As for the walking analogy, you mentioned two extremes, but there's plenty in between. However, it's a poor analogy because the objectives are so different. If they built a bike trail that went someplace, that was otherwise inaccessible, I'd go for that, but smaller roads are as close as we get to that.

I lived in or near NYC all my life and have many ridden tens of thousands of miles in the congested eastern corridor, but very few of those miles are on roads wider than 2 lanes, including trips NYC to Phila, NYC to DC, NYC to Boston or Cape Cod. The roads are there, and though not always the shortest route, not big detours either. It just takes a bit more planning to find very nice roads that parallel the major highways.
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In answer to the question ...

1) I don't have a problem riding on roads. I like quiet country roads, such as one might find in the middle of Victoria, northern Tasmania or parts of Manitoba, Alberta, and lower mainland BC. I also don't mind wide highways with good shoulders.

2) If you want a look at rail trails and the like, check out this thread which is up to several pages now ...

Show us your Rail Trails, Hiking Trails, Cycling Paths, etc.

Feel free to add photos and stories of rail trails etc. that you've ridden and like.
As mentioned above, I prefer the quieter roads when they are available. Unfortunately, nice roads that parallel the major highways don't always exist. In fact, my experience is that those roads often don't exist, or at least only here and there. Believe me, I pour over maps looking. And the quieter roads don't always go where you want to go. We use a whole set of quieter roads in northern Tasmania for a series of Audax rides. They're great ... love them! But they aren't exactly Point A to Point B types of roads.

Then I skip right over the busier roads with no shoulders ... don't like them.

But plonk decent Albertan shoulders on roads (a full lane width and smooth as can be) and I'm there!
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Old 09-08-17, 07:46 AM   #58
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I have no real idea how significant the generational difference may be, but it's something we might think about and examine in ourselves anytime we debate the pluses and minuses of interstate bike ways, along with other advocacy issues.
I dunno where I would fall in that. I've only been riding a bike as something I willfully go out and do for three years now. Growing up I lived on a 55MPH road in the country and from 10 or 11 years old was riding all over those roads by myself to friend's houses and the golf courses in the summer, roads have just never bothered me. I think it is a mindset more than anything.

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I am new to bike touring, so maybe this affects my perception. But what if we were talking about walking? Say you'd envision walking from Maine to Georgia. Would you rather walk the Appalachian Trail or the shoulder of the I-95? May sound silly (AT, obviously, at least for me) but if you google "walking across America" you find blogs of people pushing grocery carts along highways.
My counter point to that would be that where greenways are built, the most cost effective solutions are generally abandoned railroad grades. That land is not always located in areas one wants to tour through, railroad companies purposefully routed their lines where land was cheap.

Don't get me wrong, I love my local rail trails for riding, but they are quite boring. Flat, straight, and your choice of cycling through open exposed fields, or a forest path with the exact same trees over and again. Lets not even talk about the literal Interstate Trail, in which they ran a bike path in the ROW of I-275. At least that one has some rolling hills, at the expense of choking down diesel fumes.

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On local bike paths I see lots of experienced riders with fancy gear but few of them on even the safer local roads. Many folks consider riding on any road an unacceptable risk.

Would be expensive but not unimaginable to have SF-LA & NYC-DC trails built. I think they'd be popular for both int'l & domestic tourists esp w/current emphasis on "experience" travel. NYC-Philly would be a logical first segment: 160 km/100 mi easy 2-day ride w/access to trains/planes.
My anecdotal evidence, living in a small lake town, is that there are FAR more roadies cycling past my house on the road than on the trail three miles away I often take to get to a cool little town. Sure, there are always some out there, but working in my garage on a Saturday morning I can see dozens of cyclists with fancy gear, on the trail it is families and hybrids.

I don't disagree on regional networks, but that is a hard sell for national funding. The Michigan Air Line is planned to eventually run between Detroit and Chicago, and is chugging along at a slow but steady pace, mostly with local communities taking the initiative to obtain and upgrade the properties in their local communities. A nationwide system, though, just would never see the usership that would be required to keep it up through long stretches of remote Midwest/West.
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Old 09-08-17, 07:55 AM   #59
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I found the Swiss system to be pretty nice. Combination of quieter roads and paths, well thought out and well marked. The idea of building and maintaining thousands of miles of bike paths is laughable. Not sure why we are even discussing. Like @Machka suggested, get out there and try to make a difference.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:01 AM   #60
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The Mickelson is essentially, if not actually, a state park, and it's not simply a bike trail. It's also open to pedestrians and horses. About 19 miles is open to snowmobiles. Many state parks charge day use fees when improvements have been made. Well worth the $12 for the three days I was on it.


The Mickelson is a bear to maintain, in part because it's not flat like many trails. There are grades of over 4% in places. Combine that with a lot of cuts and you get the potential for washouts. I had to skateboard through one part of the trail due to a washout caused by abnormally heavy spring rains. And then there was this I had to lift my bike over as there was no getting around it:
I'm not sure that the Mickelson is any worse to maintain than just about any trail in the west. At least is doesn't run through a snow slide area like the Summit County Trail along 10 mile Creek does.

I would also question the 4% grade on the Mickelson. It's a railtrail and a 4% grade is extremely steep for a train. It goes up and down a lot but it's just not that steep.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:13 AM   #61
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I lived in or near NYC all my life and have many ridden tens of thousands of miles in the congested eastern corridor, but very few of those miles are on roads wider than 2 lanes, including trips NYC to Phila, NYC to DC, NYC to Boston or Cape Cod. The roads are there, and though not always the shortest route, not big detours either. It just takes a bit more planning to find very nice roads that parallel the major highways.
I've never had much problems with traffic on tour. Like you, I tend to seek out the quieter backroads but have no problem riding in urban areas. That said, your...and my... experiences of riding in cities where bicycle traffic is prevalent don't always apply. I've ridden across Nashville, TN which isn't exactly a hot bed for bicycling. My single day's experience riding there was that the drivers were positively clueless about how to act around a bicycle. It wasn't like they were actively trying to run me off the road but they just didn't know how to act. It's like they had never seen a bike before. I don't ride sidewalks but after several instances of cluelessness from drivers, I had to.

I've had similar experiences in other southern cities. They just don't know what to do with us.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:28 AM   #62
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It wouldn't have to be an either/or. Those who want to ride the roads, ride the roads. Those who want to ride the trails, ride the trails. Those who want to do both, do both. I see an interstate non-motorized vehicle system as expanding choice not limiting choice. Think of all the new people that would join us. People today that aren't convinced a 2 ton machine whizzing by them at 50 mph three feet away is a good, safe, idea or place to be. I can't enjoy the ride very much if I'm continuously looking over my shoulder, waiting to be clobbered by someone driving using a cell phone.
Unfortunately, installation of a bike path usually forces the issue. It doesn't have to be a case of either/or but often times bicyclists are forced to use the bike path no matter how poorly designed or maintain it may be. Drivers are more aggressive around cyclists not using the bike path in my experience. Denver has installed a number of very poorly designed and laid out "protected" bike ways which can be contra-flow or be behind floating parking lanes or narrow with gutter pans running right down the middle of them. I avoid all of them because I refuse to be trapped between a car and a curb but, if I ride in the street, I'm going to get buzzed, tailgated or generally harassed.

I have no problem using a trail or bikeway that parallels my touring path...the Delaware and Hudson towpath is a lot easier way to cut through the Poconos than trying to go up and over them. But if I have to, I can ride on the road with certainty that I'll be safe. People out in the hinterlands are actually much more courteous towards bikes than people who live near cities are. It's part of that familiarity I was talking about above.

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And to help maintain the interstate trail system on an ongoing basis, how about a 1% federal excise tax on new bicycles and parts to be applied to a non-motorized vehicle fund dedicated to the creation and maintenance of non-motorized vehicle right-of-ways, including bike lanes. It would be fun, it would be inexpensive considering all the long term societal benefits and it would be the most environmentally friendly way to travel. I don't see a downside.
The problem would be maintaining the money for bicycling. Excise taxes get diverted regularly and if the pool were large enough, it would likely go to roads anyway. We don't pay for our roads as it is...motorists only pick up about 40% of the cost through gasoline, registration fees and other excise taxes...and I fear that any kind of "bicycle tax" would just get rolled into the highway fund.
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Old 09-08-17, 02:48 PM   #63
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I wonder if we're seeing a generation gap here. Not in chronological years but in years as an active cyclist/bicycle tourist

I suspect that the "older" cyclists that cut out teeth riding roads and are fully adapted to and comfortable with that will see it one way, and don't want to foster any perception that maybe that's not a good thing.

OTOH - those who came later, in an era of advocacy for separated bike lanes in cities, strong peer pressure for wearing helmets, and a general perception of the "dangers" associated with riding in traffic will tend to favor more separated bike lanes.
That's an interesting observation.

I like bike roads/lanes and will use them, but i'm also an "older" rider and I'm fine with roads. I was flabbergasted, reading a thread on the "Northeast" regional page about someone who wanted to do the Farmington Canal Trail, a north-south dedicated biking road in CT, which has (or had) an approximately 10 mile gap in the middle of it where you had to use roads. And the person said "I want to do this, but will want to find someone to transport me and my bike across those 10 miles."

????

To be clear, the 10 connecting miles are marked, have shoulders and are not that heavily traveled.
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Old 09-10-17, 02:19 AM   #64
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Unfortunately, installation of a bike path usually forces the issue. It doesn't have to be a case of either/or but often times bicyclists are forced to use the bike path no matter how poorly designed or maintain it may be. Drivers are more aggressive around cyclists not using the bike path in my experience. Denver has installed a number of very poorly designed and laid out "protected" bike ways which can be contra-flow or be behind floating parking lanes or narrow with gutter pans running right down the middle of them. I avoid all of them because I refuse to be trapped between a car and a curb but, if I ride in the street, I'm going to get buzzed, tailgated or generally harassed.

I have no problem using a trail or bikeway that parallels my touring path...the Delaware and Hudson towpath is a lot easier way to cut through the Poconos than trying to go up and over them. But if I have to, I can ride on the road with certainty that I'll be safe. People out in the hinterlands are actually much more courteous towards bikes than people who live near cities are. It's part of that familiarity I was talking about above.
Downtown DC has some of those unsafe bike lanes too but drivers don't seem to mind too much when I ride in street instead since traffic is so slow anyway (DC has speed cams).

I also find that rural drivers are more skilled & polite, a bit ironic since they see far fewer cyclists. But all it takes is a rare distracted/drunk driver to cause mayhem.
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Old 09-10-17, 07:54 AM   #65
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Germany is currently building up a system of efficient long distance cycle lanes (e.g. "RS1"), but the proclaimed purpose is more to support cycle commuting, hence it exists more in the generally more populated areas.

In Ontario, people seem very nice drivers (to me; I know many who would argue here). I usually just pick one of those many sideroads that is still paved and am good to go. Remember countless times when I didn't have to care about where to cycle on the road because no cars were around.
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Old 09-11-17, 07:41 AM   #66
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Germany is currently building up a system of efficient long distance cycle lanes (e.g. "RS1"), but the proclaimed purpose is more to support cycle commuting, hence it exists more in the generally more populated areas.
The thing that people tend to forget is how more compact most of Europe is. Germany has 80M or so people crammed into an area smaller than Montana. If that is how the US were populated, I'd agree that things like a national cycle system (and trains) were more feasible.

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I also find that rural drivers are more skilled & polite, a bit ironic since they see far fewer cyclists. But all it takes is a rare distracted/drunk driver to cause mayhem.
Other than heavily traversed roads, most rural roads are pretty empty and easy to pass on. I think that has more to do with it than anything, you simply aren't the inconvenience that you may be on a heavily used urban road where passing opportunities are few and far between.
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Old 09-11-17, 08:11 AM   #67
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The thing that people tend to forget is how more compact most of Europe is. Germany has 80M or so people crammed into an area smaller than Montana. If that is how the US were populated, I'd agree that things like a national cycle system (and trains) were more feasible.
The other side of the coin is that many people...even those living in the US and Canada...don't realize how vast the US is and how low the population can be outside of cities. Montana, to continue your example, has 7 people per square mile (2 per square kilometer for the rest of you). And even that number is inflated by the way that it is calculated. Colorado, for example, has 52 people per square mile but the Fort Collins/Denver/Colorado Springs/Pueblo corridor has a population density of 5000 people per square mile while much of the rest of the state has less than 25 per sq mile.

The area where the ACA TransAm route runs through has <1 person per sq mile and even that is inflated since Eads...the only "town" on that part of the route has 700 people (1500 per sq mile) in it. Kiowa county, which the route transverses, is almost 1800 square miles. Do the math and there ain't nobody out there!

Much of the US from within 200 miles of either coast with a few exceptions really is similarly populated. I can say that with a fair amount of certainty. Once you get away from just about any town, there's really no one and nothing out there.
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Old 09-11-17, 08:19 AM   #68
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Actually my favorite roads are the two lane side roads which rarely have shoulders, but also have low enough traffic that drivers have no problem moving across and sweeping past with plenty of room.
My favorite roads are paved country lanes with no center striping not quite two pickup trucks wide. Here in Parts Unknown I can ride hundreds of miles on roads like that, typically seeing fewer than three motor vehicles an hour. You wouldn't have to fund or build anything to turn those roads into a cycle touring mecca - just map and advertise them.
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Old 09-11-17, 08:40 AM   #69
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And to help maintain the interstate trail system on an ongoing basis, how about a 1% federal excise tax on new bicycles and parts to be applied to a non-motorized vehicle fund dedicated to the creation and maintenance of non-motorized vehicle right-of-ways, including bike lanes.
Most streets and local roads where I live are paid for by local sales and property taxes, and state roads are paid for by a combination of fuel taxes, motor vehicle fees and general funds, so even cyclists who don't own a motor vehicle are contributing an arguably fair share to the transportation funding system.

Fun fact: beginning in 1919, American cyclists paid a federal excise tax on tires and tubes. Bike tires and tubes were taxed by weight at the same rate as truck tires, and the tax was ended in 1982 because it cost more to collect than it brought in!

Down in Texas, the legislature proposed a special sales tax on bicycles and all cycling gear. Every major cycling organization in the state supported this as a reasonable 'user fee' contribution to the state's transportation needs. The legislature subsequently enacted the tax...and gave the money collected to the Parks and Wildlife department!

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Old 09-11-17, 08:57 AM   #70
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Fun fact: beginning in 1919, American cyclists paid a federal excise tax on tires and tubes. Bike tires and tubes were taxed by weight at the same rate as truck tires, and the tax was ended in 1982 because it cost more to collect than it brought in!

Down in Texas, the legislature proposed a special sales tax on bicycles and all cycling gear. Every major cycling organization in the state supported this as a reasonable 'user fee' contribution to the state's transportation needs. The legislature subsequently enacted the tax...and gave the money collected to the Parks and Wildlife department!
Both of these comments illustrate the problem with bicycle taxes. The amount that can be collected is either too small...when taxed using the same formula as for motorists...or the ones suggested are punitive. It comes up a lot in my state and the number being thrown around is on the order of $25 per bicycle. That's about $1 per pound while my 6000 lb old truck is charged about $0.02 per pound. That hardly seems "fair".

Even Oregon's new (highly regressive) $15 per bike sales tax on new bike brings in very little money. The numbers I'm seeing are about $1.2 million. That's enough for about 5 miles of bikeway per year if 100% goes to bicycle projects. Of course there will be administrative fees which will cost a significant amount of money.

One fun fact about Oregon's bill is that it apply to bikes with "a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches." There aren't too many bikes out there with a wheel diameter of 26". Hint: tires are not wheels and the largest common rim is 622mm in diameter. Do the math
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Old 09-11-17, 09:06 AM   #71
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One fun fact about Oregon's bill is that it apply to bikes with "a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches." There aren't too many bikes out there with a wheel diameter of 26". Hint: tires are not wheels and the largest common rim is 622mm in diameter. Do the math
hardly seems fair that riders of larger wheeled cycles
will be forced to bear a disproportionate share of the
tax burden.

penny farthing riders get screwed over once again!
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Old 09-11-17, 09:15 AM   #72
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hardly seems fair that riders of larger wheeled cycles
will be forced to bear a disproportionate share of the
tax burden.

penny farthing riders get screwed over once again!
Their point was to target "adult bikes". The whole bill was poorly drafted by people who have no knowledge of bicycling since they consider bikes over $200 to be "expensive". There's also the problem of charging people who can only afford a $200 bike are paying a 7.5% tax on the bike while those buying $1000 bikes are paying 1.5%. The tax should have been a percentage rather than a flat rate.
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Old 09-11-17, 09:52 AM   #73
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Their point was to target "adult bikes".
Or protect Oregon-based, small wheel specialist Bike Friday.

Hmm.

Naw, that sounds too much like a whacko conspiracy theory.
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Old 09-11-17, 09:54 AM   #74
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penny farthing riders get screwed over once again!
Only one wheel of a penny farthing bike is larger than 26". Perhaps they get taxed at half rate.
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Old 09-11-17, 08:24 PM   #75
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Their point was to target "adult bikes". The whole bill was poorly drafted by people who have no knowledge of bicycling since they consider bikes over $200 to be "expensive". There's also the problem of charging people who can only afford a $200 bike are paying a 7.5% tax on the bike while those buying $1000 bikes are paying 1.5%. The tax should have been a percentage rather than a flat rate.
Indeed, very backwards setup. Overall for suburban/urban areas it makes sense to subsidize path construction. Car-commuting arteries & commuter trains are clogged & expanding capacity is often impossible or at least very expensive, every bike commuter helps alleviate that a little bit.
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