Roads, motor vehicles, and bicycles

edited February 2015 in General

Recently, on page 16 of the February 4th Mountain Mail, Councilman Mike Bowers states: "bicyclists did not contribute any money to the upkeep of roads and highways". This statement is wholly incorrect. Whether or not the Mountain Mail recorded his statements accurately, I would like to address the myth that tax-paying bicyclists do not contribute to the road system. Motor vehicle gas taxes and registration fees only pay 1/3 of the cost of our roads. Nationwide in 2010, highway user taxes and fees made up just 32 percent of state and local road expenses. The rest is financed out of general revenues, including federal aid. This is according to the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan research think tank, based in Washington, DC. A 2012 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts broke this down further, stating that the gas tax, a major revenue source for surface transportation, hasn’t generated enough money in recent years to keep pace with the rising cost of construction. And for example, in Oregon in 2009, 90% of cyclists owned cars, which means they're still paying motor vehicle taxes and fees.


thank you,


  • edited February 2015

    Thank you for posting this.

    IIRC, SCR for several/many years did highway cleanup on 291. So, in addition to helping to pay for the roads (because we all drove cars), cyclists also picked up some of the trash adjacent to those roads.

    Edit: removed a sorta snarky comment.

  • I hope that Mike will think about his statements and respond. He's a good man and has served Salida well as Law Enforcer and Councilman.

    That bit about how cyclists don't pay for roads is one of those truisms that isn't true, like that wars help the economy or the customer is always right.

    I think it would be good if everyone in Salida who actively dislikes bicycles rode one across town just once. I doubt there is one (adult) cyclist in Salida who doesn't have a car, or who has never had one or driven. We understand the world of the driver, but typical drivers have no idea what our experience is like sharing roads with them.

  • Thanks Anton,
    As a business owner downtown and someone that tries to buy locally first, I feel I contribute significantly to the sales tax base that pays for the majority of Salida's road maintenance. As well, while I may ride my bike to work far more often than I drive I still pay to have my 2 vehicles registered. Perhaps Councilman Bowers should read the city budget before repeating things that simply are not true.

  • Thanks Anton.

  • Most of us contribute in all of the ways alluded to in the above posts - whether or not we ride bicycles. I can't speak for Councilman Bowers and did not hear the context in which he delivered his comments. However, I will say that perhaps he is alluding to the fact that a good deal of public money is spent to accommodate bicyclists without them having to purchase permits or licenses. This is quite different for most other groups that use trails and roads ... who have to pay some sort of user fee in the form of permits or licenses. Bicyclists are the glaring exception to those that have to pay usage fees ! And ... by the way ... I am 1000% for facilitating the use of bicycles on roads and trails in any way possible. And ... I approve of any public money that Salida spends to make this a destination for bike riders and bike races. But -- looking at the broader picture -- wouldn't it be wonderful if ... as the rest of the road and trail users have to do ... if bicyclists could help contribute to the costs of building and maintaining their additional use of these systems with some sort of a token fee (and yes... this would be in addition to the regular taxes and fees that we pay for the use of our motorized vehicles). Personally, I would be happy to pay for a bicycle license to help fund improvements.

  • PT, I don't agree with Councilman Bowers' position, either, but I am curious as to what part of the, let's say, 2013 budget he should read that would be be helpful or relevant to the issue at hand.

    Your saying it may be completely unrelated, but one sees this "saying things that aren't true" phrase coupled with mention of the budget a lot lately by supporters of those whose job it is to prepare an annual accounting and "complete financial plan."

    If anyone has any questions about any assertions that I make about the budget or the city's performance or nonperformance in reporting expenditures, please feel free to call or e-mail. I can well document each and every assertion made.


  • I believe the street improvement portion of the budget for 2015 is ~1.3 million (including sidewalks) and the portion of revenue directly from motor vehicles 199,000 (highway user tax) and 25,000 (motor vehicle registration) is substantially smaller. This does not include sales tax derived from fuel sales but I suspect that is not $1076000. I am referring to the proposed 2015 budget. All I am pointing out is that cyclists certainly do help pay for the roads. I'm not sure what you are getting at.

  • Pedestrians, skate boarders and scooters use the streets as well. Should they be taxed?
    In downtown Salida bicycle riders free up much needed parking spaces. The city is already leasing two properties for motor vehicle parking at taxpayers expense.
    Bicycles cause far less wear and tear on road surfaces than a motor vehicle. Consider a rider on a 30 pound bike vs. a driver in a 2000 to 3000 pound vehicle.
    Bicycles do not cause air pollution and are quiet.

  • Anton, thank you. PT, good and focused information. Thanks.

  • edited February 2015

    The video of this discussion is available on YouTube at: The discussion on Hwy 50 bike lanes begins at about 58 minutes. Videos of all City Council meetings are available on YouTube and can be linked to off the City's website:

  • Thanks Anton. And Trey, SCC (formerly SCR) still does an annual clean up of 291

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