Bike Tax: Oregon is Not Happy

I always find it funny when we emphatically proclaim that this right here in the land of the free. I do take great pride in reading the constitution, defending the content found within there, and promoting freedom, but more and more I find the Government, be it Federal, State and now even Local, becoming bigger, having its influence dig deeper and deeper into every facet of our lives. The Government seemingly thrives on control, on expansion, and on justifying the need for it.

oregon-bike-tax
Oregon gets a Bike Tax. Image courtesy of Jetta Productions, Getty.

So, just the other day my wife tells me this story she heard on the radio on her way to work, where the state of Oregon is implementing a Bicycle Tax. The reason she broke this story to me was A. I’m kind of a Libertarian guy who thinks the Government power should be limited, and B. I also have just recently enjoyed exploring bike riding as a form of exercise. Let me explain both, real quick.

LIBERTARIAN-left-right
This chart is not the most perfect example of Libertarianism, but it is a good starting point. 

As a Libertarianish kind of individual, I think the Government is way too big, tries to manage and micromanage, trying to apply “one-size fits all” solutions on a population that is incredibly diverse. The Federal Government in particular is far too powerful and influential, whereas State governments probably have a better grasp of the people, and even better local governments probably have the greatest grasp.

By that, I mean that Communities, especially people, know the people of their area the best. Not Washington, not your State Capitol, but your actual community. Community could technically not even be seen as Government.

The second, the bike riding discovery, came from me exploring ideas to make me a healthier individual. I am not the type that enjoys going to a gym, plugging in my headphones, and waiting in line to use weights or take the treadmill or elliptical next to someone else. I was doing well managing 5 mile walks from my house, to the local park walking track, and back. Bike riding came to mind, because I knew I could probably work my way up and bike that same 5 mile path, and maybe even more-so.

So, I bought a bike (as did my wife), and on my normal schedule, I bike at least 5 miles 4 times a week. It’s fun, I can feel myself doing a number on my body, I have built up my stamina, and I did it all with a flat fee of the purchase of the bike and equipment…upkeep is all I have to focus on.

And it was a great idea, think about it…go out, buy a bike, hit the road.

Well, maybe here in Delaware…but the people of Oregon, there’s a tax for that.

1200px-Flag_of_Oregon.svg.png
Oregon…the “Hey, you like Bicycle’s? That’s awesome, pay more for ’em” State. 

Now, let me qualify this: This is not some special continuous tax on bike riders that you would face monthly or yearly, it is a tax they apply on new bike sales, specifically bicycles that cost more than $200 and have a wheel diameter of 26″ or greater.

Oregon currently has no sales tax (much like Delaware), but I believe that there is a fatal flaw in touting that you have no sales tax, and that is generally speaking, your other taxes are greater. In Oregon’s case, according to the Washington Times, they rely on one of the higher income taxes in the nation at 9.9% for top filers.

According to that same article, Portland is ranked is ranked third most bike-friendly city in America, which lead to the inception of this tax proposal, with many arguing that the tax, hoping to generate somewhere near $1.2 million dollars aimed at improving trails and pathways for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Among those favorable arguments also included that bikers weren’t paying their fair share…you know, because if you buy a bike, you 100% absolutely are going to be riding it on public roadways only. Do you see where I am going with this?

Sure, right now it’s a smaller fee on the price of bikes, on the assumption that they use all the government installed and upkeep pathways, or hell, even bike lanes on a major roadway. What is stopping them from, say, creating a bike registration. You want to buy a bike? Ok…we need you to get a cyclist license, so that you can bike on the roadway. You’ll have to take a bike education course, do a bike riding test, get a license, oh, and of course, we’ll want to periodically inspect your bike to ensure all of this.

Is that an extreme line of thinking? Maybe. But, ultimately, what is stopping it? Convenient for Oregon to make certain types of bikes more expensive we it is a healthy activity that should probably be encouraged among individuals. Now bike shops are worried that people will opt for lesser models, or even outright avoid buying a bike in-state when an option elsewhere is cheaper.

A bike tax…

Pfft.

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