No Excuses Left!

Bicycle power!

Bicycle power!

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.

– JAB

5 Responses to No Excuses Left!

  1. I think this is the best thing to ever happen to the bike, ped, transit community myself!

    they should sit down and calculate just how much money is generated from the sale tax – and claim it for non-auto use – at the local level!

    The ultimate user-pays road funding ought to be dynamic tolling per congestion levels. Let drivers decide how much they want to pay to buy down congestion and use the proceeds to provide more capacity for them.

    then you have a real user-pays nexus. People, paying their fair share and contributing to reducing congestion ….

    • “The ultimate user-pays road funding ought to be dynamic tolling per congestion levels. “.

      Oh, you are SO close.

      Congestion levels are only an input. The toll should be based on the cost of the underlying road. If the road is so congested that it is on the 20 year forecast for an upgrade – fine, the cost of that upgrade should be factored in. However, a driver driving a mile on a road not slated for upgrade at midnight creates the same cost as a driver on that road during rush hour.

      Absent a plan to expand the road, congestion does not increase the cost of using a road.

      LarryG – if your plan were implemented, what would happen?

      Many low usage rural roads would suddenly have sky high tolls. Remember, it’s cost of road / miles driven on the road.

      74% of America’s roads are rural roads. However, 65.6% of miles driven are driven on urban roads.

      How do you think that plays out once you start charging by the mile?

      http://roughroads.transportation.org/RoughRoads_FullReport.pdf

  2. What bizarre logic.

    Personally, I am a weightlifter. Lifting weights is one of the things I like to do. Since schools are not “user pays” I should be able to walk into any high school and life weights in the gym, I guess. In fact, my fellow weightlifters and I demand that all high school weight lifting equipment be upgraded so we’ll have a more pleasant experience.

    More biking and running trails are a good idea. Period. Biking and running reduce pollution (when used as an alternate to cars), reduce obesity and make a percentage of the population happier.

    How about we close a few of those idiotic perpetual tax breaks and industry-specific credits and spend the savings on more running and bike trails?

  3. re: ” However, a driver driving a mile on a road not slated for upgrade at midnight creates the same cost as a driver on that road during rush hour.”

    actually i’m not sure that’s true since two lane roads are a lot cheaper and easier to expand and add lanes from adjacent land than 8 lane monsters that are bordered by high dollar development.

    but that would be fine – so that just like we put photo enforcement at known trouble spots, we’d put congestion tolls on roads that have congestion – and the money would go into a fund that would buy down the congestion.

    and I’d make it a lottery also – so that you’re automatically entered every time you pay a toll…

  4. re: ” However, a driver driving a mile on a road not slated for upgrade at midnight creates the same cost as a driver on that road during rush hour.”

    because – people are paying the same gas tax no matter when they drive or what the congestion levels are when they drive – it’s the same cost no matter what.

    there is little nexus between traffic conditions and what you pay.

    and the proposition of congestion tolls – is to explicitly link what you pay to a better service – and it’s your choice if you want to pay.

    congestion tolls – now that they are done electronically have not only great potential to vary the rates according to congestion but there’s even another angle not yet considered…. since everyone will have a toll “account” and that is that they could actually CREDIT your account if you did your trip outside of congestion hours or outside of congested areas! So others would pay YOU to not cause more or add to congestion!

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