George Skelton’s Bike Tax is Flat Earth Thinking

In today’s society, it’s far easier to blameĀ others rather than point the finger on themselves. Last week’s article by LA Times Political Columnist, George Skelton, chided cyclists “free” use of the road without paying for maintenance or repairs.

Skelton’s remarks are very hurtful and shows what a bubble he lives in. His piece is one-sided, distant and reads like a “get off my Lawn” rant.
Calling for a $15 registration fee is disproportionate, self-serving and targets the poor(read: not you).
And what’s the source of his anger? He didn’t get to live the good life in Lake Tahoe because a bike race blocked. The chardonnay had to be served at room temperature I heard.
Mind you, roads get blocked by parades, marathons and other community events. They are required to leave notice when such a blockage occurs, something you obviously missed. But cyclists are the problem.
First off, let me reference those 2,000 participants that caused your ire. They are not your typical cyclists in our state. If your driver ever lets you roll down your window when you’re in Los Angeles, you’ll see that most people on a bike are not of the lycra clad variety.
Look around and you’ll find a large portion of cyclists are those poor enough that owning a bike is a necessity. They are either their primary means of transportation or used to supplement public transit.
A majority of them don’t even own helmets and ride on the sidewalk because they feel too unsafe to ride in the street.
My mistake, your streets.
Fifteen dollars may seem like a pittance to you, but these are people scraping by with every cent. Go to your typical Metro station and look at the bike racks. Not the stealthy high tech carbon frame speedsters
But let’s forget about the poor. This is about equity. Cyclists must pay their share.
Before we do that, we’ll ignore the cap and trade savings our state enjoys from less driving or how cycling has been proven to increase business. Your argument only seems more plausible when you avoid facts Mr. Skelton.
If you caught a piece of Richard Risemberg’s editorial for Streetsblog, he referenced how it would take nearly 10,000 bicycles to equal the amount of wear one car would do to a road. In other words, charge motorists $15,000 a year to use the road, then I’m fine with your price structure.
Lastly, how about these a-holes?
Look at them use the street without being taxed. These people must pay!
Walking in the road where cars should be moving freely is one of the biggest crimes to society on must be punished! Think of the millions of intersections pedestrians cross a day without consequence!
Okay, maybe I’m going a bit overboard. Cyclists weigh roughly 15 – 50 pounds more than pedestrians based on equipment, so let’s just charge pedestrians half. Adults will be charged $7.50 per pair of shoes and since they’re lighter, kids can go for $5, but not a cent less.
The fact of the matter is even if I didn’t own a car, I would still be subsidizing street and highway expenses. Registration fees and fuel taxes do not pay for the roads alone and every taxpayer contributes towards your roads whether they like it or not.
For Skelton to make such a broad attack because he forgot to check Google traffic says a lot his argumentative depth. It is unfair to demonize cyclists in this light.
Bikes help the environment, offer people the freedom to combat poverty and provides exercise that benefits healthcare costs.
Your article should infuriate most cyclists, but it won’t. Starting at $100 per year for subscription to the LA Times, most cycling constituents can’t afford access to your lofty ideas. You better hope there are enough ivory towers to support your newspaper.