By Yokota Fritz
Unbelievable -- some stingy residents in St. Joseph County, Michigan say the Amish shouldn't have a say in how road maintenance is done because they don't pay road taxes and vehicle registration fees. State fuel and vehicle registration taxes cover 57% of the Michigan Department of Transportation budget. This is, of course, immaterial regarding access -- public roads are open to the public, no matter your ability to pay, and all stakeholders should be considered in road design.
Cyclists are often opposed to rumble strips because of the hazard they pose. I once nearly killed myself when I drifted left to avoid trash in the shoulder and into the nearly invisible rumble strips alongside US Highway 66 near Lyons, Colorado. The Amish in Michigan don't like them because rumble strips are positioned perfectly for the left buggy wheel, resulting in a very unpleasant ride.
Geysering fuel prices and the clamor for sustainable lifestyles and cityscapes bode well for bicycle commuters.
In 2007, Ann Arbor adopted a comprehensive non-motorized transportation plan calling for 56 total miles of bike lanes racing along half of the primary roads. There's an ongoing program of striping bike lanes on resurfaced streets; another six miles is scheduled for early this year. And all buses tote bicycle racks, making a seamless integration with mass transit.
To support these initiatives, 5 percent of Ann Arbor's state gasoline and weight tax revenues are earmarked for non-motorized transportation improvements; combined with the city's own funds, spending totals nearly $500,000 annually. "We're going to just keep on growing our system," says Transportation Manager Eli Cooper.
Cycling is merging into mainstream traffic. But Ann Arbor, despite its League of American Bicyclists "Bicycle Friendly Community" designation, still has some uphill roads. Kris Talley, chairwoman of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition (WBWC) points to the multitude of Michiganders unaware that bikes have a legal right to share the road. To that end, the WBWC is collaborating with Ann Arbor and its "Get Downtown" alternative transportation program on a "Same Roads, Same Rules" campaign, hoping to educate motorists and cyclists on the routes to road harmony.
Read more at Detroit Metromode. This wonderful article on what cyclists are doing in the state of Michigan also covers the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, MI, where the article writer apparently lives.
Rumble strips, Amish buggies, and road taxes
Ah, love it. More folks who think that roads are paid for solely by gas taxes and registration fees. *sigh*
The amish, as much as I love and respect their way of life, pay no property or income taxes. All they pay taxes on are purchases they make. So I argue they should not have a say. Cyclist on the other hand presumably do pay the aforementioned taxes..... not the same boat.
@Anon - of course the Amish pay property and income taxes, and they mention as much in the news article.
The only tax they're exempt from is the Social Security system, but they also receive no benefit from Social Security (they have their own mutual aid society for that).
To be honest, the article is very balanced. I'm impressed. But the car lobby in either the UK or US will never listen to such reason. No point in getting exercised about it- it's simply fact.
But consider this: Why should I pay (through general taxation) for rumble strips for motorists when I'm not likely to fall asleep/ be inattentive/drive drunk enough to ever benefit?
Why not let the sleepy, distracted and intoxicated drive straight into the beautiful cornfields of Michigan? Maybe it would teach them a lesson!
When did that news story get broadcast? I don't watch TV news, and that's an example why. It said a "growing number of people" in St Joseph County think the Amish shouldn't have a say. I question whether the news people have any data on that. I've run into people around and near St. Joseph County who resent the Amish on the roads. But a growing number? I doubt they know that.
Also, to say that the roads are paid for largely with road taxes is misleading. Why couldn't they have said 57 percent, like your article does? The Amish use less than 43 percent of the road.
BTW, I ride on those roads, but last summer didn't do much west of Colon. East of Colon the rumble strip was only in the center. It helped me hear the cars passing me from behind because the vehicles tend to cross the center line and make noise as they do so.
Michigan: Two wheel revolution