Alexandria Moves Toward Registration And Taxing Bicycles

301px-Seal_of_Alexandria,_VA.svg220px-MichauxjunWe have previously discussed the counterproductive increases in taxes that have been implemented recently without consideration of their impact on behavior or revenue. France’s ridiculous 75 percent tax on the rich is an obvious example (now even the former French president is reportedly planning to flee the taxes for England). So is our high tax on corporations while Canada continues to lower its tax just next door. There are also reports of high earners like Tiger Woods leaving California and New York in the face of high increases. A smaller but even more moronic tax is being contemplated by Alexandria, Virginia where the city council is considering a law forcing people to register bikes so that they can be forced to pay a fee.

When most cities are trying to get people to ride bikes to reduce congestion and pollution, the Alexandria City Council will actually deter such beneficial conduct.

There is already a 25 cent registration fee on the books since 1963 but it has been wisely ignored. I can understand a voluntary registration program for theft but the tax or fee component is not a good idea. Indeed, I would not make this mandatory even as to the registration to add yet another permitting obligation on citizens.

Old Town resident Kathryn Papp had an argument in favor of the registration that only a bureaucrat would love: “Cars are registered and charged a fee. Motorcycles are registered and charged a fee. Almost every vehicle on the roadway is registered and charged a fee.” So why not bikes, scooters, and roller blades? It is a particularly bizarre argument from someone who seems to feel incomplete with the failure to require universal registration of personal items with an attendant fee. Why not just like Papp register her bikes and pay the fee?

I used to live in Old Towne as well as other parts of Alexandria. I loved my time there but the city was always a tax-heavy jurisdiction. Those taxes were often discussed by my neighbors as a reason to move out of the city. Yet, this proposal shows an almost stereotypically knee-jerk approach to taxes. The natural state for people like Papp and these council members is for things to be regulated and taxed. It even produces discomfort for people like Papp to have part of her life unregulated and untapped. Taxes are like some warm blanket of government companionship for the regulatory lonely.

This story struck a cord with me because it highlights the tendency — particularly of some liberal politicians — to treat taxes as if they occur in a vacuum with no behavioral response. People are rational actors and will conform their conduct to avoid costs or inconvenience. In this case, you have an activity which is universally viewed as beneficial to the city and the environment. The response is to now regulate and tax it. Truly bizarre.

Source: WAMU

69 thoughts on “Alexandria Moves Toward Registration And Taxing Bicycles”

  1. DonS demonstrates typical anti-cycling ignorance and idiocy. There’s always one, no matter where you look.

  2. [music] Tax, fax, bo bax, bannana fanna mo max
    Fee fi no tax

    If the first two letters are ever the same,
    ya drop them both and say the name,,,,,

  3. GeneH,

    We are in full agreement that JT has, as all do, the right to decide over his priorities, etc.
    It is just that we chldren often suggest improvements to our parents, and vice versa. All part of loving, I think.

    I am not alone in fhat here. 🙂

    Gone for now.

  4. GeneH,

    So nice that we differ.

    I address the waste of his time on trivial articles. and you defend his choice.
    Fair, we diagree and that is fine.

    Only fools think they win here.
    The only prize is to depart a wiser better informed man.

    Your position to judge JT is much better than mine. But a bit of hubris must be allowed, as times, to us all.

  5. DonS,

    10AM local the temp is 10 degrees and clear.

    The bicycle net, exclusively for bicycles, on risk of crashes with peds, is a bone thrown at our green party. Active in both parliament and city council.
    If enough rally round their flag then good……

  6. “Your answer does not address the issue.”

    Yeah. It does, id707. The busy man sets his own priorities and that is as it should be.

  7. Blousie, thanks for the run down on the bike path evolution. I live in a supposedly bike friendly place — we do have a bike path but it is too often crowded with joggers and walkers and strollers and dogs — but as an afterthought it is of course much harder to do bike lanes.

    Sorry it’s not warmer. We in SW Virginia are also frigid. My body is currently full of aches and pains so tolerating the cold, and the pains, is harder. At times like this the southern climes look pretty good.

  8. A number of people have made comments to the effect that the issue of registration and tax on bikes is, if not totally trivial, not worth the attention of this blog.

    I would have to disagree. It seems to me that this issue touches on some of the most important and prominent problems of the day. It certainly goes to tax policy, the proper role of government, and how government should support approaches to deal with the environment and lifestyle of the community.

    Bicycles may not be a solution for the next hundred years. But when it comes to pollution and carbon, there are probably few other techniques that are as immediately available, low cost, and effective as policies that take people out of their automobiles and put them on bikes.

    Bicycles naturally lead to improved fitness. And fitness is probably the single most effective thing the individual can do to influence future health care cost. BTW, if you are concerned about taxes, the deficit and the size of government, then you should know that the single biggest driver of the deficit over the next 50 years or so just happens to be the growth in health care costs.

    Bicycles are at the very center of major issues of today.

    My point is that if we can talk thoughtfully and peacefully about bicycles then perhaps we can be more productive when we consider some of the other pressing problems of the day.

    1. BFM

      All have at some time a kid who has a bike. But not all belong to the one percent. We can discuss from now until doomsday about that issue, and never get anywhere.
      If your oxe is not being gored, then no discussion issues.

  9. If bike taxes are graduated and if the proceeds are used to for bike lanes and trails, it’s not a bad idea.

    1. Agreed, agreed.

      But shall we tell JT that we prefer speaking of graduated income taxes which are enforced.

      Monitor all rich persons intermational transactions (easy) and any signs of jumping ship will be greeted with immy confiscation of the estate.
      If Obama can take away lives without a trial, then certainly property is next on the list of executive imperialism..

  10. Honey, you know how your older sister had to get a job to pay for the extra insurance on the car before she could drive it? Well, you’ll have to get a job so you can pay to register your bike before you ride it. See if Daddy will pay you to take out the trash. I’ll pay you a bit if you help me clear the table.

    1. Learning children that works rewarded is important. and is the skill to negotiate, manipulte carrot and stick. etc. Tell me more, I am retarded.

  11. Working Man,

    In our host’s defense, he’s been really swamped in litigation recently. I do know one of the guest bloggers is working on a column about the very subject you brought up for this weekend.

    1. Thanks GeneH. My faith is restored.

      The rule of politico buying still stands however.
      Once you’re bought, you must stay bought or nobody will trust you anymore.
      You can engage in salary negotiations however.

      Your answer does not address the issue. Why trivia when so much is needed on serious subjects. If overloaded, then one good blog a day will keep us well occupied. Or ask for help from the Guest Bloggers. We all know what overload is each XMAS!

      Just to differ in a civil fashion.

  12. B,

    When an intern does the job for them, sells it, etc etc.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due.. Or are your pols and bureaucrats descendants of the FF?

    If so, make them run the country. No shirking here.

  13. DonS,

    Nope, not warm at all. Whatever raff gets in Chicago moves east to us in a few days.

    About 30 years ago the Building Dept. hired a young intern to work the summer. He was in his final year towards getting a degree in city planning. He convinced the City Council that bike lanes and paths were going to be the wave of the future so they funded a plan and put him to work on it. He laid the whole thing out for existing streets, parks and future streets and parks. He wrote the legislation and a few months after he was back in school, the council tweaked it all and passed it.

    They built slowly but consistently and used bike licensing fees to fund it all. (I believe that later in the process they also qualified for some State and Federal funds.) Bike licensing fees pay for the maintenance and even bought a half dozen bikes that the cops carry on the back of their cruisers for patrolling parks. The cops also run a yearly bike safety program for youngsters … I think it’s a three day event on a bike coarse designed for that purpose.

    Sometimes government really does do its job well.

    1. Pete9999,

      Not to claim ownership, but I advanced RFI nanochips injection under the cover of chlld immunization or child checkups. (Only the law-abiding will be registered but that is a start.)
      With concealed RFI readers everywhere, they track you even if you are rebellious and don’t own a cell. The immunization nurses just smiled and agreed with me.

      I was proud at my first new bike at age 12, it was registered with a shiny police badge symbol around the steering pipe.
      We were so poor that mom had to buy it on time payments.
      Boo hoo!

  14. Anybody notice Turley has gone very “lite” recently? Hardly anything to get excited about. Now he is worried about a bike tax in VA and not one word about the efforts of the VA legislature to award 2016 to the rethuglicans. Something is very wrong here.

    1. Well, his feet began to smell about 6 months ago. He was unaccounted for lots. As his subjects got lite, we concluded that he had gone Obama, but the reverse. Sold himself to the same people as Obama, but got the job of playing Prof. Trivializer.

      He is like his idol, Obama. He will never admit that he is bought.

      So why did he do it? Well, I won’t say. A mystery with the “who did it” revealsed won’t sell.

      Tune in next week, we’re expecting a report from our surveillance group.

      See the End of the American dream on the Onion. Searching for the URL I overran my 5 freebies. I didn’t know that they were owned by the NTTimes. pay there. Don’t want to encourage this trend. Of course if they would eliminate ads from Google…..maybe.

  15. Do you know what you get when you combine a kindergarten grandchild with a grandparent? A grandparent dead from pneumonia.

    We had quaint customs in ancient times. We escorted them to the cliff, singing their praises while they could still hear them. Push them over. all spit one time over the cliff, and then we depart hurling the oaths they deserved to hear.

    Really, it is called ättestupa. But that is another tale. As is modern chistian burial ceremony in a village church.

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