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01/12/2011: "Hot Air and Gas"
What's the difference between hot air and gas?

Hot air, unfortunately, isn't taxed at all. Gas--the kind you put in your car--isn't taxed enough.

As Im sure you've noted, whenever there's a blog post or an online article saying anything remotely positive about bicycling infrastructure, the comments boards light up with flaming denunciations of cyclists' right to any road space at all, premised on the invariable assertion that they don't pay gas taxes, registration fees, or the mysterious "road tax." (There is no road tax in most countries.)

Sometimes misguided cyclists chime in to say that since they own cars, they do too pay "road taxes," and so have a right to road space.

Right? Wrong!

In the US, Canada, and England, at least, the paltry taxes imposed on cars and fuel cover barely half of the costs simply of building and maintaining roads for motorists. usually the "tax gap," as it's called, is much greater, with plenty of roads paying for only 16% of their costs.

And this counts only the costs of providing asphalt--it leaves out the costs of accidents, water and air pollution, time lost to congestion induced by "free" roads, oil subsidies and depletion allowances, and of course the property tax lost when homes and businesses are replaced by asphalt handouts.

Cyclists, by contrast, need very little space for riding and parking in, and don't wear roads out at all. In fact, it's been calculated that cyclists in the US overpay in general, property, and sales taxes to such an extent that they should receive a rebate each year of around $250--providing they don't also drive.

Sound out of line? Take a look at the figures in these studies:
Whose Roads? (VTPI)

Do Roads Pay for Themselves? (USPIRG)

Do Roads Pay for themselves? (Texas DOT version)

Mainstreaming Bicycles (American Conservative Magazine)
And for good measure read about how building bicycle infrastructure actually generates more jobs than building car roads and highways--right here.

Next time some drooler's online comments get you heated up, don't just get mad--get typing! Don't let them get away with their lies!

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