Portland should spend more money
on bicycle infrastructure—but the money should come from somewhere other than a mandatory licensing program
. That's one of the recommendations of a report
published today by the Portland City Club on bicycle transportation.
Some people have pushed a licensing program that would require all bicyclists to register with the city and pay a small fee. The report found, however, that while it could raise money for bicycle-related projects and alleviate concerns that bicyclists get a “free ride”
on city streets, such a program would be difficult to enforce and might deter commuters from using bicycles, among other drawbacks.
Though registration programs exist in small cities and university campuses across the country, the report said, few of the nation's largest cities have them. Those that do—including Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.—have recently begun to repeal them.
Instead, the report recommends a statewide four percent excise tax
on sales of new bicycles that would fund “school safety programs, the installation of automated bicycle counters and the creation and distribution of safety programs and materials.”
The report called for coordination of Portland's entire transport system, saying too many people see a conflict between bikes and cars and buses and trains. City Club researchers rejected the conclusions of an Oregonian investigation
published last year that claimed that the city is failing to fill in potholes in part due to spending rail and bikes.
“This type of reporting presents a false dichotomy
between automobile and bicycle transportation modes,” the report said.
The report found that mostly privileged white guys
ride bikes. About two-thirds of bicycle commuters are male, and most are white and college educated. “Perceptions that bicycling is unsafe are a commonly-cited barrier to ridership for women, minorities and senior citizens,” the report said. It also noted that minorities especially listed cost as a barrier to bicycling.
The report will be discussed at this Friday’s City Club Forum from 12:15 pm to 1:15 pm on May 31 at the Governor Hotel.