Do cyclists pay their fair share?

I have to applaud PennDOT efforts to raise awareness about cycling on the road network lately. In PA, on our roadways responsibility is a two-way street. Both cyclists and motorists need to be aware of and follow the rules of the road relating to cycle safety.

Last couple months I’ve noticed once a week PennDOT has been making really nicely crafted social media posts aimed at cycle law awareness issues. Here is an example:
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.26.23 AMUnfortunately whenever a post like this is made a very small but vocal and extremely uninformed minority of commenters always follows with a litany of silly posts.

One of the most common and most uniformed narratives is usually along the lines of: Cyclists should have to pay for plates, registration, inspection and insurance like every other vehicle on Pennsylvania roadways“. 

Couple problems with this sentiment:
First, cyclists do pay their share. Actually they pay a far disproportionate share. Here are the facts:

  • User fees (license, registration etc) pay for only 34% of the costs of roads in Pennsylvania. The rest comes from general funds that cyclists also pay for.
  • 80% of cyclists also own cars so 80% also pay the user fees associated with those cars.
  • A bike has 1/20th the impact of a car on the roadway. This includes funding for bike facilities. (which usually just involves moving paint around)

Essentially, when a motorist makes the decision to bike instead of drive they are saving us ALL. Because 1.) They also pay the bulk of costs to maintain roads. Pair this with 2.) bikes require significantly less expensive specialized facilities and 3.) cyclists create a fraction of the impact.

So basically, as a driver and taxpayer… next time you see a cyclist take a moment to thank them. They are mathematically doing their part to keep your tax burden lower in a number of measurable ways. If it were a fair world they should probably get a rebate for cycling since they save everyone alot of money when they ride.