Bumpy Ride for Oregon Bike Tax

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Massive revenue shortfall could discourage similar efforts elsewhere

Several months ago, PeopleForBikes reported on a change to the Oregon bike tax. Under the revised law, a $15 tax is collected on all bicycles that retail for $200 or more—including kids’ bikes. Proceeds from the tax help fund bike and pedestrian projects.

So, how is the bike tax going? Not as great as the state had hoped. When the bike tax was introduced, revenue was projected to be slightly more than a million dollars per year.

The Oregon Department of Revenue has since revised initial estimates by about 50 percent, anticipating closer to $500,000/year instead of $1 million. But actual collections may still fall short of this benchmark: At the end of August, the tax had generated less than $300,000. Even with a boost in back-to-school bike sales, the tax is unlikely to deliver the funds originally projected.

Oregon’s bike tax is an experiment in trying to generate transportation dollars from bike sales, and its disappointing performance may prevent similar proposals from moving forward in other states, (like Colorado, where last year a state senator floated the idea of following in Oregon’s footsteps).

To keep track of bike-related legislation that impacts your hometown and business, join PeopleForBikes at peopleforbikes.org/ben. It’s free and helps make bike riding better for everyone.

PeopleForBikes gets more people riding bikes more often and makes bicycling better for everyone across the U.S. by advancing bike project funding and pro-bike laws, supporting communities as they build better places for bikes, and inspiring people to ride.