Today I have a fair amount of random bits and pieces to cover, and what this readership’s attention span, not an abundance of time with which to cover it, so without further ado, let’s get cracking.
Say- Do you like apples?
How do you like them apples?
Before you say “well, it sounds like more money being put into bike infrastructure to me”, homie CD has been in the trenches on this since the start and has quite a bit to say about that;
HB-2017 is the Oregon state transportation funding bill, now amended to HB-2017-10, and has passed through committee, the state House of Representatives, state Senate, and is now on the desk of Governor Kate Brown waiting to be signed into law. This bill includes what we believe is the only state excise tax on the sale of new bicycles. Yes, here in Oregon.
A quick word about Oregon. The state has no retail sales tax and anything proposed even remotely close to one over the years has quickly been dismissed. This tax, $15 on any new bicycle sold over $200, is rumored to have begun in committee at a whopping 10%! By the time the bill made it to public testimony the tax was 3% on bikes over $500. The price limit put in pl ace to protect low-income citizens. Whether $500 or $200, this bill exempts big box retailers and puts the burden of funding squarely on the shoulders of small business – Oregon’s independent bicycles retailers.
On June 6th, I rode from Portland to Salem, Oregon’s capitol along with ten other advocates to give public testimony before the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization;
Over 60 people from across the state jammed the room to give testimony on numerous subjects within the 298-page bill. My 3-minute testimony had to be cut down to 2 minutes due to the large number of people before the committee. My message was simple, Bikes Mean Business. Taxing bicycles in this proposed bill not only was unfair to a single category of business in the state but it also suggested that bicycles were part of the problem with Oregon’s transportation issues. An excise tax?!? That’s for bad stuff, right?
My testimony was the first of several retailers and bike business leaders over the course of a few sessions. We managed to convince the committee to amend the bill through this testimony and a business letter writing campaign led by The Street Trust, People for Bikes, and River City Bicycles. The amended bill is the flat $15 fee on bikes with 26″ wheels over $200. The tax is expected to raise $1.2m per year with an expected administration cost of $100,000. Funds will go to the Connect Oregon program “for the purposes of grants for bicycle and transportation projects…that expand and improve commuter routes for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians, including bicycle trails, footpaths, and multiuse trials.” The tax is expected to go into effect in mid-October.
E-bikes are exempted from this tax though they now fall into the new 0.5% “motor vehicle privilege tax”, also new in HB2017-10. This tax money will go into a fund that incentivizes consumer rebates for buying electric cars.
There is good news, though. $10m annually for Safe Routes to School and in 2022 it goes to $15m. But in a $5.3b bill the amount of money that the excise tax will make is likely not to be noticed. It’s the statement that the Oregon legislature is making that stands out. It seems that people have now been convinced that they hate bikes and bikes, for some reason, “need to pay”. Oregon has been a leader in solving transportation issues through bicycling and our state has a strong income from bike tourism and bike business. This tax lets the air out of our tires and slows our roll, for sure.
Here’s my takeaway on things:
Americans have been led to believe they hate bikes. Expect more of this.
Legislatively and otherwise, Oregon sure seems to resent Portland and this tax seems to be a shot at one of the modern symbols of the city.
Perhaps the state legislature is trying to put a feeler out on a statewide sales tax and chose a product most people don’t give a damn about.
This $200 limit effectively eliminates 75% of new bikes sold in the state. Seems like a huge loss of revenue potential.
So there you go.
I had lunch with him a couple of weeks ago and he explained the whole thing more or less to the same degree.
From my perspective, the long and the short of it is Oregon just gave independently owned and operated bike shops a middle finger and gut punch of a pretty tall order. What I fear as well, is this is going to set a precedent, and we’ll start to see similar legislation nation wide.
Beyond just local bike related politics, some Oregonians are doing a pretty good job of making their perspective of non-Oregonians somewhat clear these days;
But then again, nobody likes Californians anyway.
Unrelated to that, have any of yinzers peeped on this?;
What a strange trip life sometimes is.
The funny thing is in the various comment threads, there was still a lot of scorn and support for the Lance, and general vocalization regarding serious people’s perspective of him. Discussing the the topic in an email to Cary, I concluded with the following quasi-observation;
“Both Jim and I posted this yesterday, and the chips on people’s shoulders about it have been pretty amazing. I reckon a lot of people potentially discovered cycling because of him and developed their identity around it in the process.
When he fell from grace, it made them feel like a sham. Or maybe not. There’s definitely some psychology surrounding the fact that folks still hold a grudge.“
I also noted that if former Alcatraz inmates and guards can be friends, just about anybody can let bygones be bygones.
Either way, I don’t really care.
Moving on- Just this past spring I wrote this post in which I detailed the fact Pentabike had recently been given a new lease on life by some good hearted derels out there in Oklahoma.
Not only are they getting cracking on development of new product, a race team, and so forth, but they’re taking on some underground event promotion as well;
We have at least one or two operatives in Tulsa, don’t we?
I feel like we do. Maybe even three or four. So to those one to four people, mark your calendars for this throw down. On the chance you don’t know the other ne’er-do-wells in town, there’s a good chance they’ll be present at this.
Relating to that only inasmuch as the fact that you’ll most likely look similar the following day, from Coach Bobo I received this;
They all started with such promising futures, and hearts full of hope, and in an instant, it was shot into their veins with tiny plush syringes.
Lately, before I go I promised myself I’d write a good word on behalf of the kind folks from Chrome Industries. I suppose it was a month or so ago that I received a message from a fellow in their employ named Sharkey asking me if I’d be interested in trying some of their riding shorts. Not one to turn down a good riding short, or free stuff in general, I said of course and thanked him for his consideration.
I’ll be dogged if within 10 days or so a care package arrived on my step containing a pair of the Folsom shorts, a pair of the Powell shorts;
-and then a pair of shorts that looks kinda like the Union, but I don’t think is, but it might be;
You know- For a couple of decades, I gleefully subjected the public around me to the sight of myself in lycra. Not because I think now, or thought then that I imagined it looked good, but because it was a matter of function over fashion.
Then at some point I ditched stretchy clothes entirely (save for a discreetly worn pair of bibs), and opted to wear cut off Ben Davis pants and the non-wicking wickingness of a sleeved cowboy shirt.
But some days it’s just nice to throw on a pair of breathable, and quick-drying over shorts, and these numbers fit the bill perfectly.
Just last week I wore the Unions/maybe not Unions on my little bike packing expedition and they worked like an absolute champ.
Bike clothes are dumb. We all know it, even though we maybe don’t admit it, but occasionally an item comes along that fills a need that perhaps we didn’t know we had. You slip it on, it suddenly becomes one with you, you don’t feel like your bits and pieces are being scrutinized by the world at large, and you can ride your bike comfortably.