Every year repair crews are out there repairing the nation’s roads. They resurface, repair, or even completely replace stretches of road. This all costs money that comes from things like fuel taxes, general taxes, and automotive registration and licensing fees. Bicyclists also use the roads, so shouldn’t they have to pay some sort of registration fee as well?
Road Wear and Tear
Part of the thought behind things like fuel taxes and automotive registration fees is that cars and trucks do a lot of damage to roads. Therefore, they should help pay some of the cost to repair them. Bicycles, on the other hand, weigh little and put virtually no wear and tear on roads.
While some deterioration of roads occurs simply due to nature, especially in areas where freezing and thawing occur frequently, the money required to cover such repairs is far less than that needed due to the damage from automobiles.
Encouraging Less Pollution
The fact that bicyclists can ride on roads helps keep the air cleaner. Bikes produce no emissions, and that should be rewarded rather than penalized. Use of bicycles also reduces dependence on oil and other finite fuel sources. Charging cyclists might discourage this environmentally beneficial behavior.
Encouraging Good Health
Lowering healthcare costs and getting and keeping people in shape are worthwhile goals. Charging cyclists to ride on roads would reduce the number of people engaging in a healthy form of exercise. If healthy citizens are truly desired, cycling and other forms of exercise should be encouraged instead of penalized.
Where Would the Usage Taxes End?
Assuming that the argument that bikes use the roads so they should pay for the roads is a good one, why not force everybody who walks on a road to pay a registration fee as well? They are using the road and therefore ought to pay for it as well. Let’s not forget about sidewalks, either. People who walk on them should be required to pay registration fees to pay for their upkeep.
Penalizing the Poor
While some behind the push for cyclist registration fees have in mind cyclists who bike for sport or leisure, there are many who simply can’t afford cars and do not have access to buses or other public transportation. Bicycles or walking are their only options. Forcing registration fees for cyclists would unfairly target those whose only crime is being too poor to afford a car.
As to what money might be gained from cycling registration fees, don’t expect much. The bureaucracy that would have to be set up to handle this would cost far more than any fees they would collect(unless the fees were ridiculously exorbitant). If less government is a good idea, cycling registration fees are a bad idea.
Finally, bicycling is just something that should be simple and fun. Kids riding bikes with their buddies or adults out for a pleasant ride make for happy times and a better quality of life. Don’t spoil it with unnecessary fees.
Jonathan is a Professional Triathlete from Brisbane, Australia. He trains several days a week and often rides his Merida triathlon bikes on the road but he doesn’t believe cyclists should have to pay for registration. When he’s not training for his next race, Jonathon likes to spend time with his family and watch the latest movies.