Roadshow: Should bicyclists pay a transportation tax?

Q I have an idea that will probably make me a social outcast for the rest of my life, but isn’t it about time that bicyclists pay an annual bike fee? After all, car owners do it. Dog owners do it. In fact, designated bike lanes have, in some communities, taken a second lane away from cars, and there are bike lanes on most non-freeway roads. Perhaps it’s time that bike owners share the cost of maintaining the roads that they also use.

Rebecca Hayman

Los Altos

A Anyone else?

Q Here’s a controversial topic for your column:

After reading your report on the extra $3 billion a year needed for repairs to California roads, I have a simple answer. Let bicyclists pay their fair share! Every day I read more reports of auto lanes converted to bicycle lanes, resulting in more congestion. If they paid a nominal license fee of $25 a year, it could raise millions to maintain our roads. What do you say, bike owners, are you ready to pay your fair share?

Don Davis

Los Gatos

A For years, I have dismissed this since most bicyclists are also drivers and pay transportation taxes when they buy gas or even clothing. But some cities around the nation charge a small fee of $4 or so on the purchase of a bike to help defray the cost of bike lanes. It would not raise a lot of cash, but would a fee work here?

Q Could you provide clarification concerning the new “Three Feet for Safety Act” for bicyclists? I drive by some cyclists who insist on riding along the left side of the marked bike lane, dangerously close to my car. Does the law require me to keep three feet away under these circumstances? The law says nothing about cyclists keeping to the right of the bike lane to maintain a three-foot clearance.

Tim M.

A The new rule requires cars to keep at least 36 inches from cyclists when passing, or to slow to a safe speed if they are prevented from keeping their distance. Bicyclists often stay to the left of the bike lane because of all the debris along the curb.

Q As someone whose husband was hit by a motorist who left him in the intersection and fled the scene, I highly support the new three-foot rule. He suffered a broken collarbone and multiple lacerations. He was one of the lucky ones. It seems there are ever-increasing reports of cyclists being killed. People, it’s not hard. Pay attention, slow down, move over, get off cellphones and share the road.

Jill Johnson

Sunnyvale

A Bicycle fatalities statewide increased 15 percent between 2010 and 2011, from 99 to 114.

Q Now that we have a three-foot safety margin to protect bicycles from us motorists, how about practices to protect us drivers from bicyclists? You know, the bicyclists who, along with really stupid, unexpected stunts, zoom out on sidewalks from behind hedges onto pedestrian walkways on a car’s green light, who ride against traffic, swoop across several lanes at once, rarely signal, don’t wear lights or reflective gear at night and never wear helmets?

Liz Esterly

San Jose

A Surely you jest.

 

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