Jeffrey Moore of Las Cruces, NM wrote a letter to the editor complaining about all the bikes on the streets! It’s been a while since I’ve covered the usual complaints, so let’s go over them again.
I realize the need for providing safe areas for walkers and bikers alike. The problem that I have with sharing the roads with bikers is that they pay no registration, they have no insurance and they never obey traffic laws.
Vehicle registration fees in New Mexico range from $25.50 to $60.50 per year. This probably barely covers the costs of running the vehicle registration system, and certainly doesn’t cover the costs of maintaining New Mexico’s roads.
Insurance is a requirement for motor vehicle operators because of the tremendous costs they put on the public. As in almost every state, though, the minimum liability requirements fall short of modern financial realities: New Mexico drivers are required to have only $10,000 coverage for property damage, for example.
Finally, cyclists hardly have a monopoly on law breaking behavior. If cyclists should be banned from the road for breaking traffic laws, the same should hold true for motor vehicle operators.
Each and every day without fail, I see bicyclists running stop signs, turning without looking at other traffic, going faster than me through school zones and driving at night with no vehicle lights.
Again, law breaking motorists are an everyday occurrence. I too see motorists committing each of the infractions Moore lists every single day and night: failure to stop, failure to yield in turns, speeding, and equipment violations. Cyclists should obey the law for their own protection, but when cyclists break the law, the most that usually happens are angry letters to the editor. When motorists commit these infractions, people die.
I hope that people wake up and realize that drivers are the main reason that roads were built and it should not be shared. Until bicyclists start paying their fair share of taxes, insurance and registration fees, they should not be allowed on public roads.
The fact is, cyclists generally pay more than their fair share for public road upkeep. In Las Cruces, a local gasoline tax contribute to 28% of the public works street department $800,000 operational budget — this pays for “pothole patching and repair; street sweeping, cleaning and debris removal; storm drain cleaning and maintenance; dirt street and alley cleaning, grading, watering, and maintenance; guard rail repair and maintenance.” Las Cruces’ $8 million capital projects street budget, on the other hand, is funded primarily through a city sales tax, which is paid regardless of your travel mode to the shop.
Mr Moore proposes that vehicle users pay for their fair share of their road use. Vehicle road damage is calculated by engineers by vehicle speed times axle weight to the fourth power. Let’s start with a 1 penny registration fee for a bicycle. A 5000 pound SUV travels at 3x the speed of a fast cyclist, and weighs 25 times as much as a cyclist and his bike. 25 to the 4th power = 390,625; multiplied by 3 = 1,171,875 pennies or $11,718.75.
Thank you to Stan in Las Cruces for bringing this to my attention.