Roads are paid for by drivers, right?

“Why should we even allow cyclists on the roads?  They aren’t paying for them.”
Variations on this theme come up fairly regularly:  Drivers pay for roads through gas taxes and car registrations  Cyclists don’t need to pay out anything.  Why should we let people who aren’t paying for the roads use the roads?

Unfortunately, this argument rests on a false assumption: that all roads are paid for by user fees (gas taxes and registrations).  In fact, according to an article a few years ago on Streetsblog, “Between 1982 and 2007, the amount of federal highway revenue derived from non-users of the highway system has doubled.”  We are all paying for roads, regardless of whether drive or not, and identifying gas taxes as “user fees” is even under question.  Add to this the fact that many cyclists also own cars (and therefore pay “user fees”), and the argument against them using the roads falls apart even more.

So, as far as cycling infrastructure and complete streets development goes, getting even 1% of transportation funding has been an uphill battle.  By recognizing that this funding isn’t even fully supported by drivers we should be able to utilize it to support cycling- and pedestrian-related endeavors, in Grand Forks and beyond.

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