City Club proposes tax on new bike sales

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by KGW Staff and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on May 30, 2013 at 5:32 AM

PORTLAND -- Oregon bicyclists could face a tax when they go to buy a new set of wheels.

A committee of the City Club of Portland proposes a 4 percent statewide excise tax on new bicycles in a city that regularly ranks among the most bike-friendly in the country.

Unlike a sales tax, which appears as a line item on a receipt, a bike dealer would pay the excise tax and not list it as part of the purchase price.

The report lists a number of specific recommendations specific to the city of Portland. Since the tax would be collected statewide, some of the revenue would go for school-based bicycle safety programs,  increased data gathering and creation of safety programs and materials.

Key City Club recommendations

Read the entire City Club report

The study said bicycling is essential to improving the city's economy and quality of life. It acknowledged tension, though, including uneasiness among some residents that better biking opportunities would hurt other forms of transportation.

The committee rejected a proposal from some members to license bicyclists and test them as a way of improving safety and improving the image of bicyclists. The minority report points to the ATV industry as an example of a licensing and testing model.

Read the minority report

The report will be discussed at a noon forum on Friday, (tickets required) and the City Club will take a full vote on the recommendation at its June 7 meeting.

A proposal for a flat rate sales tax of $25 floated by Democrats in Washington was roundly criticized by bicycle advocacy groups. The legislature eventually adjourned without enacting it.

More: Washington Dems pitch bike sales tax for roads

More: The Cascade Bicycle blog item on transportation funding

The decades-old organization has a membership that mixes business executives and past and present elected officials and their staffs. The group often makes recommendations on pressing public policy issues. Its executive director is former mayor Sam Adams.

More: City Club board members

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