This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A recent letter suggested that, as bicycles use the public roads, then cyclists should pay a registration fee and be taxed just as motor vehicles are. As a cyclist, I think that this is a great idea, and I applaud the author for suggesting it! After all, everyone should pay their fair share, even if they are young, fit environmentalist types. But how best to do that?
As vehicle taxes are imposed primarily to pay for wear and tear on the roads, then let's make the tax commensurate to the wear and tear that each vehicle inflicts upon the roadways. As the damage caused is directly in proportion to the weight of a vehicle, let's tax by weight. For example, the $5,000 bicycle weighs 17 pounds. A Toyota Prius weighs 3,042 pounds, and a Ford F-150 weighs 4,887 pounds. If we impose a tax of $10 per 100 pounds, the biker pays $10, the Prius owner $304 and the F-150 owner $488. Sounds equitable, right?
But say you don't like the weight method. Let's consider another way to tax: Greenhouse gas emissions. (I bet you know where this is going!)
Bicycle emissions are 0 grams/mile. Prius emissions are 179 grams/mile. F-150 emissions are 520 g/mi. If we levy a tax of $1 per gram, the cyclist pays $0, the Prius owner pays $179 and the F-150 owner pays $520.
As a cyclist, I'd be pleased to pitch in and pay my fair share. You tell me if I should make the check out for $10 or for $0.
Salt Lake City