Bumper to Bumper
Bicyclists already share road costs, readers say
In last Monday's Bumper column (May 10), a Seattle reader stirred up a hornet's nest by suggesting that bicyclists may not share equally in the cost of road upkeep. Now we hear a different point of view.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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With the largest local cycling organization in North America — the Cascade Bicycle Club — based in Seattle, there's little question that bicycling is popular around the Puget Sound area, for recreation and as a commuting alternative. The Cascade club claims more than 13,000 members, and there are other local cycling clubs, too.
In last Monday's Bumper column (May 10), a Seattle reader stirred up a hornet's nest by suggesting that bicyclists may not share equally in the cost of road upkeep, and he asked whether any consideration had been given to requiring bicycles to be licensed. It was his opinion that licensing would be an additional source of revenue that could be directed toward road maintenance.
Maybe it's because cycling enthusiasts claim May as Bike Month. Maybe because Friday is Bike-to-Work Day in a number of Puget Sound communities.
And maybe, as Nick Sowards, a spokesman for Bicycling and Mountain Bike magazines, circulated in the United States and Canada, pointed out, last week's item simply stirred up a growing tension and animosity between drivers and cyclists.
Nearly 200 Times readers commented online (you can read online "comments" at www.seattletimes.com/bumpertobumper), and by e-mail.
Of the e-mails, here's what a few had to say:
• "The vast majority of riders own cars and already pay road taxes," said Bob Youngken, of Shoreline. "They have simply decided to not pollute, or give the road the wear and tear, or add to congestion."
• Besides road taxes, cyclists also pay property taxes, sales taxes and federal income taxes, "all of which help pay for roads," said Wallingford resident Chris Hill. "It is rare for a cyclist to not own a car, and they are paying for the road system through using their automobiles."
• "I'm still waiting for the outcry for stronger licensing requirements for motor-vehicle operators, but so far all I hear are crickets," said Rick Gilbert, of Federal Way.
• "What causes us to spend money on roads is mainly congestion and wear," said Claire Petersky, of Bellevue. "Because my car weighs a ton, and my bike weighs about 25 pounds, my car wears down the road much faster than my bike," she said. "Mostly, when I ride to work, I'm on a shoulder that would be there anyway. If everyone rode a bike to work just one day a week, we'd need a lot less pavement. Bicycles reduce congestion."
The discussion is likely to continue. As Sowards, who represents the cycling magazines, pointed out: "Every cyclist has been terrified by a close call with a car, and every driver has been scared and aggravated by an irresponsible cyclist who put them in a dangerous situation.
"Ultimately, it's a two-way street, and greater education and consideration is needed on both sides."
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