Letters to the Editor

A small step toward balancing unfair system | Letters | Aug. 14

Denise Riley seems to confuse taxation with enforcement of road laws (“Why not require bike registration?” July 31).

Bicyclists who ignore stop signs fall into the same category as motorists who speed, drive drunk, ignore stop signs, talk or text on their cellphones, fail to yield at crosswalks, make sudden lane changes and myriad other daily offenses I see both from my bicycle seat and from behind the wheel of my car. Who knows how many drivers lack insurance or are driving with suspended licenses?

If only motorists paid the true cost of their transportation habits – including environmental damage (50 percent of carbon emissions in Puget Sound are from transportation, primarily private motor vehicles), run-off from oil leaks, health-care, road construction, urban sprawl, police patrols etc – I think as a bicyclist I would be happy to pay an annual licensing fee.

Let’s base the fee on weight. Let’s see, my bike weighs 23 pounds – about the weight of a car tire. As both a car and home owner, every time I ride my bike I do every driver a fiscal favor by not reducing the life of the pavement we all use. If more islanders rode bicycles (or walked) for short, every-day errands, the city could reduce the amount of land set aside for “free parking.”

Ms. Riley makes the point that nothing is free. I heartily agree. Maybe we can start by ensuring that car owners pay the full cost of operating their vehicles. The proposed local car tax does not even begin to do so but it is a step in redressing our unbalanced transportation system, which not only favors the private car but also subsidizes its use.

Gordon Black

Bainbridge Island

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