The View From Prospect Hill – October 10

On October 10, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

There sure are a lot of bicycles buzzing around Somerville these days. More so than ever, it seems. People are opting to utilize them as either a supplemental or primary means of transportation like never before.

This leaves certain questions unanswered in many peoples’ minds. Questions like: Should these vehicles be registered and licensed? Should they be required to be insured, just as motor vehicles are. And what about a vehicle excise tax?

If bicycling is gradually replacing use of the automobile, to whatever degree, then why shouldn’t the owner/operators of them be held to the same responsibilities and obligations as the motorists?

Does it not cost municipalities considerable sums to create bicycle lanes on public thoroughfares? Would registration and licensing not only generate much needed revenue to fund these public works, but also help law enforcement to locate and identify stolen bikes? Wouldn’t anyone putting their personal safety at risk biking on our streets be better off by insuring themselves against accidents and injuries? And as for the excise tax, isn’t what’s good for the goose also as good for the gander?

It’s a constantly changing world, adapting to the needs and challenges of its inhabitants moment by moment. Perhaps this is the time to reevaluate the practical meaning of what makes a vehicle a vehicle, and what it should mean to be a responsible owner/operator of one. Could this possibly lead to a better and fairer system for all concerned? We’re just asking.


5 Responses to “The View From Prospect Hill – October 10”

  1. A Moore says:

    All of the above, and also make them responsable for accidents they cause.

  2. Somerbreeze says:

    Bikes are already defined as “moving vehicles” by the state, and as such, should be subjected to the same rules as cars, etc…

    However, cyclists get pretty much a free pass to operate as they please; enforcement here is scattershot and sporadic, public education on bike regulation has evaporated and public safety remains compromised.

    If bikes are to be registered (a great idea!), it would need to happen at the state level. That would go some ways to make cyclists accountable.

  3. Matt says:

    It’s important to register and license cars because they are massive, heavy and motorized. They are potentially deadly to anything around them in the wrong hands.
    Bikes are human powered and no more dangerous than a person running. A person on a bike is pedestrian.
    You might point out situations where cyclists bend the rules of the road, but in the very same way someone walking would.
    To force registration and licensing is merely the knee jerk reaction of those who resent cyclists for one reason or another. Besides, how could you ever enforce these things on all the children who ride bikes?

    Bikes are not cars.

  4. Eoin O'Carroll says:

    It must be nice to be a Somerville News editor, sitting around coming up with rhetorical questions, without once picking up the phone doing a Google search so that you can, you know, gather information and share it with your readers.

    Let me add some facts to this otherwise-information-free piece:

    In the United States, the average cost of maintaining a local road is 5.6 cents per mile per motor vehicle.

    Once you add in the costs of parking (10 cents), crashes (8 cents), congestion (4 cents), and land costs (6 cents), the total cost, per mile per motor vehicle equals 33.6 cents

    But what about those excise taxes and other fees, you ask? In total, drivers of motor vehicles contribute an average of 0.7 cents per mile.

    And where does the remaining 32.9 cents come from? If you own a home, rent, buy taxable goods, collect taxable income, or run a business, you do, regardless of how much you drive.

    In other words, people who drive less – or not at all – are subsidizing those who drive more.

    Now, for bicycles, the total cost of infrastructure, law enforcement, and all other externalities incurred by these small, lightweight vehicles is…1 cent per mile.

    Every time someone chooses to get on a bike instead of getting in a car, taxpayers save money.

    So, if you insist, let’s rework all our road taxes and fees so that people pay the full cost of their transportation choices. But I guarantee you that, once the bill comes in, drivers aren’t going to like it.

  5. Somerbreeze says:

    A person on a bike is no pedestrian, a naive and dangerous assumption. Many studies have been conducted on the dangerousness
    of fast-moving bicycles in crowded urban settings

    Tell that misinformation to disabled and senior pedestrians who must dodge the sidewalk cyclists…

    The state, for once, knows better and rightfully defines bikes as “moving vehicles,” as I mentioned before. And it’s not “resenting” cyclists by advocating their licensing and registration; it’s about making them ACCOUNTABLE as operators of moving vehicles!

    If you have a problem with accountability, you need some serious reschooling, chum….

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