Now that Governor Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly have restructured transportation taxes away from a user-pays system to an everybody-pays system, they have (perhaps unwittingly) undermined the justification for short-changing funding for bicycle routes. Cycling advocates Tom Bowden and Champe Burnley drive home the point in a Times-Dispatch op-ed today.
Now our streets and roads will be paid for by everyone, through the sales tax and other general revenues. … With this change comes an obligation. Our streets and roads must be designed for the benefit of all legal users. No longer will pedestrians and cyclists have to endure the snide retorts of motorists that “Roads are for cars because cyclists don’t pay gas tax.” It was never really true in the first place, but now it’s laughable.
Our local streets and roads are for people and always have been. Most roads in Virginia existed long before automobiles, and now that we all pay for them, it’s time our planners and our government acknowledged this simple fact.”
I still believe in a user/beneficiary pays system for funding roads, bridges, highways and mass transit — and bicycles, too, if I could figure out a revenue stream for them. But now that we’ve butchered that principle and stuffed its various precepts and axioms into the incinerator, it’s time to follow through on the implications. Pedestrians and cyclists are taxpayers, too. They have every right to insist upon a share of the revenue stream to support projects that benefit them as well.