Spokes(Wo)Man

Scared of traffic ? No bike infrastructure ? Too Far ? Helmet hair ?

 

Fuck it, ride anyway

Déjà vu all over again

Oh my poor Australia. Once the contented home of the laid-back “she’ll be right” attitude, we have changed dramatically in recent years. I’ve seen it happening with some dismay; we’ve become a nation of whiny, whinging spiteful little dobbers. “You didn’t pay for that; it’s mine and I’m telling.” 

Which would be fine if only you weren’t completely wrong.

The latest, but sadly not the only, media outlet who can’t actually research an issue to save their lives is Ten Eyewitless News; who have asked but not answered the question “should cyclists pay registration?”  I believe that is known as “trolling”.

Sigh. Not this again.

Stop and really think about it.  Why exactly do you want this? List the reasons.

  1. Do you think Australia should operate on a user pays system?

  2. Or do you want to see cyclists held accountable for traffic violations?

If you have another reason to add to this, let me know, and I’ll address it too.

User pays?

1. Roads are mostly paid for by general taxation. Every taxpayer in Australia, even those who don’t drive, is funding the roads, in the same way we all fund but may not use schools, hospitals, detention-centres etc. Look at the actual tax receipt you get from the ATO;

https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Lodging-your-tax-return/In-detail/Tax-receipt/

You can see that in 2015, a 39% chunk of our taxes went on welfare; and halfway down the list, 1.8% on Transport & Communications. It’s not a lot, but the point is, we’re all paying the same percentage.

So whether I choose to use the roads I ALREADY PAID FOR in a road-hogging 4WD, a zippy little Fiat or on a bike, that’s kind of my call isn’t it?

2. Local road repairs are paid for by the local council, from the rates that homeowners pay. This is a little less egalitarian, as only homeowners are in fact paying for the roads in their suburbs.

 

But let’s say you get your way and the roads become a user pays system.

If you think cyclists aren’t paying their taxes; then by all means dob them into the ATO because based on our brief acquaintance, you seem like that sort of person.

If you think people who don’t pay rates shouldn’t be on local roads, are you saying all renters should be immediately banned from the streets until they pay up?  People from neighbouring municipalities are stopped at council borders and refused passage on roads they didn’t personally pay for?

I’d also go on to hazard a guess that Sprocketman and I pay a shed-load more tax on the income from our lucrative careers in international finance and diplomacy, not to mention our glorious blogging empire, than some of the mouth-breathing bike-hating posters on social media. [Guess which one of us is the diplomat?]

So in YOUR IDEAL USER PAYS SYSTEM, am I (as a payer of much more tax than you, you peasant) therefore not also much more entitled to the roads than you are?  In that case, howabout YOU get the fuck off MY roads?

Instead of ID, will cyclists be forced to carry their most recent ATO assessment to prove how much tax they paid toward the construction and upkeep of the roads they want to ride on?

See what you did? You turned this into a user pays system, aka a "rich people" thing, where the 1% can ride a bike or an elephant or drive a gold-plated Hummer down the road, and you, you dirty leaner-not-a-lifter, you filthy poor person paying less tax than me, can walk on the footpath. If I let you.

3. Registration fees are actually calculated by weight of the vehicle and the damage to the roads they do.

So if your 1.5-ton vehicle costs $460 per year to register, then my 10kg bike should cost $3 per year. Here, by all mean have it and buy yourself a coffee. And by the way, our household has already paid rego for our car which sits in the garage 6 days a week, so you’ll be offering me a rebate for the time I’m not on the roads in my car built to carry 8 passengers?

User pays, baby …

The other point to registration seems to be about holding cyclists accountable for the myriad of laws they all break all the time (sarcasm mine). As cyclists are the more vulnerable user in any traffic situation, this seems like nothing more than motorist spite.

But as someone who’s actually taken video footage of a traffic crime into a police station only to be patronised and sent away “because I know you were scared and yes there's a law against it, but we can’t successfully prosecute that” I heartily suggest you give it a go yourself.

Go into your local cop-shop and tell them about the motorist who cut into your lane, or who tailgated you, or who beeped their horn loudly at you for no reason. Quote a licence plate number. Have at it.

You won’t will you? You know you won’t BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT. If that worked, we’d have no traffic violations, no illegal parking, no traffic crime, no speeding, no road deaths.

With the issues of fair costs and fair treatment clarified, think again about why you want cyclists to pay registration.

Based on what seems to be now no more than your feelings of discontent or resentment aroused by someone else's life choices, are you going to implement an entire new administrative system to catch a few cyclists who do the wrong thing?

Where do we put our licence plates on a bike? How are you going to make them big enough to read without impeding the rider or the movement of the bike itself?  Or are you going to implement a new state-wide scanning system to catch those few cyclists who do the wrong thing?  How much will that cost and how much in fines will it raise? How has that worked so far for vehicles?

What in the history of civilisation has led you to believe that this works?

Or that in the case of bikes that it even should?

We have global pollution levels killing residents in many cities around the world, we have traffic congestion impeding the development of cities, we have more and more crowded public transport, we have a global health problem, and an growing obesity problem, we have increasing rates of Type2 diabetes and strokes in younger and younger people; we have people with depression living in social isolation.

FFS you people, you should be paying for us to ride our bikes and paving our cycle paths with gold.