Bicycles under threat again in Colorado
Well before the 2018 legislative session convenes in Colorado on January 10, bicyclists around the state are being threatened by proposed legislation. On Wednesday, July 19, Senator Ray Scott, from Mesa County, “floated” the idea of taxing bicyclists in Colorado after a similar measure was passed in Oregon–typically a model state for active mobility infrastructure.
As a state-level bicycle advocacy group, we live and breathe active transportation advocacy, and proposals like Senator Scott’s–whether made in or out of legislative session–are threats to making Colorado the #1 bike state in the nation, our mission of 25 years. This is a threat to the work we do day-in and day-out making bicycling safe and accessible for all Coloradans. Please consider becoming a member today to support our efforts.
Senator Scott’s proposal is off base for a number of reasons. To begin, bicycles are part of the solution for our roads, not the problem. More bikes on the road are better for everyone. Adding an additional tax to bicycle purchases is not the answer and could lead to reduced bicycle sales in Colorado, as well as fewer people riding.
Additionally, all bicycle purchases are subject to sales tax, one of the many taxes that go toward paying for our roads. Adding an additional tax to bicycle purchases would be double taxation. Other taxes that go toward road construction and maintenance include income tax and property tax.
And lastly, while a small percentage of bicyclists don’t own a car, most do, and they pay vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, which also contribute to road maintenance. The Colorado gas tax has not been raised since 1991 and covers less than 50% of the cost of maintaining our roads. Meanwhile 19 other states have raised their gas taxes since 2013 to address state shortfalls. That means bicyclists pay more than their fair share of road maintenance costs already, and that’s without contributing to wear and tear as motor vehicles do. If more people commuted by bicycle instead of driving, our roads would be in better shape, requiring less maintenance and reduced expenditures to fix potholes and resurface.
Outside of taxation, the bicycle industry and tourism help the state by contributing more than $1 billion annually to the Colorado economy. Bicycling also helps treat obesity and related chronic diseases that cost our state approximately $1.6 billion per year. We should be encouraging active transportation options, not penalizing them through additional taxation.
At Bicycle Colorado, we strive to work together to encourage more bicycling for Coloradans in tandem with identifying a long-term transportation funding solution. Another tax on bikes wouldn’t make any meaningful progress in addressing the big-picture needs of our state and is a step in the wrong direction.
Senator Scott quickly received feedback from people across the state and–for now–is back pedaling on the issue.
“But I’m getting both support for a concept like that and a lot of opposition,” Senator Scott told 9NEWS in an article published July 20. “And I don’t mind saying probably more opposition than support.”
Bicycle Colorado was quick to respond to Senator Scott’s proposal. We will continue to monitor threats to people who bike and walk, but to do that, we need your help! Please consider making a donation or becoming a member today.
Photo credit: David M. Budd