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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

        non-user sources.


"*      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

        at large.


"*      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


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