I had thought perhaps Rep. Ed Orcutt was concerned with environmental or economic justice. But via Bikehugger, we learn that Orcutt has walked back his silly comments about the environmental impacts of cycling while doubling down on his view that cyclists should pay a separate tax to support “their” infrastructure.
Never mind that we’re already paying our fair share: As I mentioned earlier, 96% of transportation funding coming from sources, like property taxes, that aren’t based on direct use of transportation infrastructure. And while it’s one thing to look at the (currently $0) contribution cyclists make to transportation on a usage basis as compared to gas tax, let’s flip that around – how fair is it that auto usage only accounts for 4% of total spending? After all, there’s no question that this 4% radically under-represents the use motor vehicles place on roadways, both in terms of capital demands and maintenance needs. Where’s the fairness in that?
But actually, and unlike Orcutt, it doesn’t bother me a bit that I pay so much for roads despite hardly ever using them as a driver. That’s because I benefit from having them there, and not just for riding on.
It’s a point that should be blindingly obvious, but clearly needs reinforcing: Transportation infrastructure is what enables so much else of our economy to click. It’s why I can get fresh produce at the store. It’s why we can have an interconnected economy with jobs and options and recreation and entertainment in myriad different locations. And it’s why we can have politicians from remote rural areas influence statewide policy (oops).
Same goes for sidewalks or protected bike lanes. Yes, they benefit the direct users – just as roads benefit those driving on them. But they also help connect everything together and provide options other than cars for moving around (which, incidentally, directly benefits those having to drive by reducing congestion). There’s a reason it’s called infrastructure. Well-designed transportation spending that accounts for the different modes people use to move around is core to keeping our society closer together and our economy and cultural life humming. It’s time for politicos like Ed Orcutt to get past the blinkered view that spending on – and benefits from – transportation is limited only to those who directly use it.