SALEM, Ore. - Oregon lawmakers will consider a bill that would slap bicyclists with a $10 registration fee.
The lawmaker behind the idea is proposing a system similar to car registration where cyclists would have to show their bike is registered.
But there would be a boon for cyclists: The fees would partially go toward a state bicycle transportation improvement fund to pay for development and upkeep or bicycle lanes, bicycle paths and other projects. It would also pay for roads.
The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood, has not yet had a hearing and it’s unclear whether it would have a state revenue impact.
Senate Bill 769 outlines several other restrictions that would be imposed if someone didn’t register a bike, namely a $25 fine for failure to register. Cyclists would also be penalized if they don’t report a change of ownership or address.
George said one of his constituents complained about rural roads in Yamhill County being clogged with bicyclists. The constituent said cyclists use the roads but don't help pay for them.
"Roads are something that we all share the cost and what we do is have gas taxes, how many miles we drive, so when you use the roads you pay for the roads," George said. "When you have people who use the roads but don't pay for the roads then all it does is shift the burden to somebody else. So it's about evening out the burden."
A spokesman for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance said the group needs to study the bill more, but they're quick to point out that most cyclists also own cars and would end up paying more than their fair share if this idea moves forward.
"Bicycles really cause negligible damage on the roads," BTA spokesman Will Vanlue said. "In many cases you could have someone who owns a car and rides a bicycle most of the time and is actually paying more into the transportation system than the wear and tear they're causing."
We spoke with several cyclists on Tuesday who said the proposed system isn't fair.
"If you take it to the logical extreme then you register pedestrians, then you register pets," said Nick Reddel. "I mean, there's a limit and obviously cars use the road so much more."
"People don't want to have to register and pay to have a bike," said Colin Dolittle.
For his part, George said he introduced the bill to start a conversation. "I like the idea of having a conversation about it," he said.
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