With all the uproar over the proposed dedicated bike lane pilot project on University Ave this summer, the issue of bicycle licencing or charging some kind of bike tax is starting to rear its ugly head. Generally, I am against imposing such things primarily because we should be encouraging cycling instead of discouraging it and because the whole issue is largely a symbolic one to appease motorists who are antagonistic toward increasing cycling infrastructure.
A recent post on BikePortland.org tackled the issue of excise taxes and lays out some of the pros and cons. There is a great comment by Ryan G who sarcastically poses the question of whether we should start charging excise taxes on shoes to pay for the building of sidewalks for those darn pedestrians who refuse to get in a car and drive like the rest of us.
Mikael, over at Copenhagenize.com, recently posted on the issue of bicycle licencing and lays out some good arguments against it. Some of the main reasons are that the expense of setting up a licencing and registration system, and the cost of administering it, and the cost of enforcing it, would be a huge waste of tax payer money as compared to the amount that could reasonably be expected from the licence and registration itself (as compared to cars). Other reasons against licencing have to do with encouraging cycling rather than discouraging it through licencing. The benefits of cycling over driving to our health care costs alone are a great example of why we should encourage cycling. In the end, the recommendation is that we should actually be paying people to get out of their cars and onto bike or foot. How about that!