Pay to play: An old argument in new clothes


In Seattle, they’re discussing whether cyclists should pay for a license. The argument goes like this: Because bikes are demanding and getting additional amenities like dedicated lanes and parking racks, cyclists should bear some of the cost.  This is an updated version of the idiotic complaint bike commuters have been hearing for years: “Get your bike off the road, automobile drivers paid for it.”

Even if it were true that car drivers paid for roads (in most states this is emphatically not true, even in the rare case where a portion of gasoline tax is earmarked for road building and maintenance), this ignores an equally simple truth: Most cyclists own at least one car and a home, and do pay to register, license, insure, and fuel their cars like anyone else.

In fact, obsessive cyclists are rather like parents who send their kids to private school: They pay for other kids to go to public school, and they keep class size down. Bike commuters pay for roads while relieving congestion. They should be the last people to be harassed with additional taxes, fees, and laws.


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