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LA Repeals Bicycle License Fee, Offers Glimpse of Funding Source for Bike Paths, Lanes

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While I’m all for smaller government, a recent reader comment in Bicycle Times Magazine actually (regrettably!) makes sense in saying that we cyclists expect the taxes and fees paid by motorists to pay for cycling facilities, lanes, paths and infrastructure when, in fact, those who ride the most probably contribute the least to paying for them.

The Contra Costa Times published this snippet about the repeal of the Los Angeles city bicycle license scheme:

“Pressured by the cycling community, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday repealed a requirement to license bikes in the city.

Bicyclists have complained that police officers too often harass them for not having a license – which costs $3 and is valid for three years – but do nothing when licensed bikes are stolen.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who introduced a Bicyclist Bill of Rights that is under review, said he favored the repeal of the fee until the city had a formal policy dealing with bicyclists.

The city has been working for years to develop a series of bike paths through the city, but revenue has not been available to do it on a citywide basis.

Councilman Dennis Zine said there are several private organizations that have a licensing system to help identify and return stolen bikes.”

There are a couple of points worth noting in this:  First, a moderate licensing fee could be used to generate revenue for bicycle lanes and paths.  Honestly, I don’t believe it would ever help recover stolen bikes, that’s pie-in-the-sky thinking as far as this guy’s concerned, but the last sentence hints at the way to get things done: Privatization.  Make private companies bid for the licensing service and mandate a certain amount of the proceeds to go toward bike lane/path building. Bidding introduces competition, keeps money in the private sector and minimizes government’s role.  I know, there are plenty of flaws with this, it’s just off-the-cuff thinking, but given the budget shortfalls everywhere, it’s something to think about in the event your city considers a paid licensing system.

You may throw your stones in the comments section…

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14 years ago

That sounds like a terrible idea.

Privatization is just going to take a failed policy and make it worse. Sticking the few bicyclists on the road with the bill for creating bike lanes would make it prohibitively expensive to cycle, or wouldn’t create enough services to justify the fee in the first place.

This is like saying the city should create fees to visit your local parks. It takes a lot of money to water and tend these green spaces and the people that use them pay none of the cost. Instead the burden falls to the neighbors in the way of property taxes when the majority of which will seldom actually visit.

The idea of green spaces is the same as the idea as gray spaces.

We should be encouraging bicycle use, not discouraging it through bureaucratic nonsense. Bicycling is a solution, not a problem. The use of bicycles is a benefit to everyone, not just to those that choose to ride. By choosing to bicycle I create less congestion, less smog, and free up one more parking space in the neighborhoods that I go to. This is the reason that the city invests in these things.

As a car owner I pay my fees and taxes like everyone else, but I’m also happy to pay for spaces to be set aside for those who may choose not to drive on a particular day.

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