Bicyclists Subsidize Auto Usage On Our Roads
Not the Other Way Around!
The following article is from the IBF News, a newsletter for the
International Bicycle Fund, 4887 Columbia Drive South, Seattle, WA
98108-1919. IBF is a non-governmental, non-profit organization
promoting bicycle transport, economic development, international
understanding and safety education. Contributions (tax deductible to
the extent allowed by law) are cheerfully accepted.
"While bicyclists are often accused of being freeloaders, what is
touted as the conventional wisdom on transport economics may not be
true. A short readable report, The Going Rate: What It Really Costs
to Drive by the World Resources Institute concludes that motorized
travel in the U.S. is heavily subsidized and that bicyclists do pay
their way. In fact a large portion of the costs of driving cars are
borne by the entire population, not directly paid by people who drive
and not paid in proportion to how much they drive. The report finds
that it is entirely possible that a committed bicyclist actually
subsidizes motorized travel. Consider the following facts:
"* Gas taxes and other user fees covered only 60 percent of
the $33.3 billion governments spent on building,
improving and repairing roads in 1989. The rest of the
money came from taxpayers (property taxes -- also
indirectly paid by renters through their rent) and other
"* An estimated $68 billion not covered by user fees is
spent each year on such services as highway patrols,
traffic management, parking enforcement, traffic
accident response teams, police work on auto accidents
and thefts, and routine street maintenance.
"* The costs of vehicular air pollution are hard to pin
down because they include such elusive damages as
illness, premature death, and reduced crop yield; but
even at the low estimate of $10 billion a year, they
are substantial -- and all of them are borne by society
"* Since motorists use about half of the U.S.'s imported
oil, up to half the cost of maintaining a U.S. military
presence in the middle east -- or $50 billion a year
-- could be considered part of the cost of driving --
not paid for by user fees.
"This summarizes only part of the highly convincing report.
Copies can be ordered from the WRI Publications, 2200 Girard Ave.,
Baltimore, MD 21211, USA.
It's too bad cars and truck owners don't have to pay their full