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Hmm, let's see.

Parking = revenue.

Cars = gas tax, vehicle and title tax, sales tax

bikes = ???

Ok, I'll give you sales tax.

And remember, bikes are personal property and are technically subject to the personal property tax. It is just the county doesn't bother collecting it.

Do you really want to get into cost vs. revenue of bikes vs. cars?

@charlie Bikes=local money stays local and more parking is available for money coming in via car from Fairfax. For starters.

parking = space sold way below cost
Cars=user fees that only cover 50% of road costs, pollution, global warming, fatalities, property damage
bikes = reduced health costs, more density for a larger tax base

Virginia does not collect property tax for cars valued under $1,000. That exemption would probably cover the vast majority of new bikes sold and even high-end bikes generally lose value quickly.

Considering that there is no standard for valuing used biscycles like a NADA Guide or Kelly's Blue Book, it seems that the effort to collect property taxes from the owners of bikes valued (in whatever way) over $1,000 would be inefficient.

Apart from that it would also be counterproductive.

@EricW; not entirely clear if the exemption includes bicycles.

Personal property includes EVERYTHING. However, the practical effect is you only tax things that are easily monitored: boats, cars, etc. It's a stupid law and needs to be brought up to speed.

@Washcycle; again, you are looking at externalities, not cash flow. Last time I looked personal property tax was still a substantial part of the Arlington budget, and I'm sure parking ticket revenue is also important.

Are you suggesting that, because it brings more money into the county's coffers (despite the significant additional costs to the county), Arlington should encourage car ownership? Or are you saying Arlington should tax bicycle owners because they use the streets? What about pedestrians, should we tax shoes because they're used on streets?

Arlington County - both staff and the County Board - absolutely *do* want to see more cycling in Arlington. Charlie's idea that the idea of protecting incoming cash has anything to with it is ridiculous (and I'm pretty sure he knows it). The problem is that 1) the Board, as a whole, hasn't historically been convinced that cycling needs much more support than it already gets, and 2) the Board just doesn't hear from cyclists as much as it does other constituencies come budget time.

charlie, I don't know what your point is.

My point is very simple. Every time an Arlington resident goes "car-free" the county loses, say, $250. (car tax, decal fee, parking revenue, and parking fines). I am largely making that number up but it would be on the low side since it isn't including title and vehicles sales tax.

Now are the externalities involved -- of course, but as I've said externalities are largely a fool's game.

What you are asking for, however, is more money to be spent on bicycling. That is great, except at some point you want revenue coming in there.

Is there an easy way to do that-- no. Are current funding levels about right -- yes. Obviously as tax payers generally there is already some subsidy, but if advocates want to push for more, I'd like to see them step up and offer to pay for it, rather that quote "externalities"

@charlie: Please just take a moment to think about all the money that a car owner spends that IS NOT spent in Arlington County or is directly going to Arlington County though taxes and fees.

Done?

Now you'll see that your argument (if we want to call it that) makes no sense.

Why are externalities a fool's game?

There is already revenue coming in there, even if everyone quit driving, because much of the money in there comes from property taxes and sales taxes. If 100% of the people in Arlington County decided to quit driving, the county would be fine, because it could maintain their, now cheaper, transportation system at half the cost.

We already pay for it. The fact is that cyclists pay in to half of the transportation budget (and most of the half they don't pay into is the federal highway system, so they pay into most of the system they use) through other taxes, and they don't get back as much as they put in.

Externalities are not imaginary, they are very real and you ignore them at your own risk. So I don't think there is anything wrong with quoting things like science and economics to make one's case.

What is imaginary is the idea that taxes on drivers are user fees. They are not. If we were to switch to a true user fee system (VMT) that paid for the entirety of road costs - as well as charge for parking everywhere, I'd be glad to pay the share I use when cycling (which should be much lower per mile than a car, since a bike uses less space and causes less damage to the road. There are, for example, almost no potholes on a bike trail - despite it's cheaper construction).

I wish DC would consider this idea (from the Patch article) for DC parking enforcement. Those little white cars are always blocking bike lanes in NE DC. During rush hour. Usually regarding neighborhood parking permits or 2 hour limits. (They never seem to target double parkers, though...)

"Some Arlington County functions that currently utilize motor vehicles – like parking enforcement – could easily substitute bikes. Such a move would lower expenses (fewer cars in the county fleet) and improve traffic flow (fewer enforcement vehicles parked in the street while ticketing) without negatively affecting the efficacy of enforcement."

Re: Parking enforcement vehicels: They could even buy those cool covered bicycles; they are a little more expensive but offer some protection from rain and sun... Maybe something like this: http://www.markstechnologynews.com/2009/01/thisway-recumbent-bicycle-concept-has.html or this:
http://bicycledesign.net/2011/03/drymer-a-dutch-electric-assist-trike/

These might be still prototypes but similar ones must be readily available for purchase...

Eric W: Well, I live in Arlington and rarely drive. Do you think that spend the money I save from driving little in Arlington to fill the tax coffers there? Hell no! The sales tax leads us to buy everything in Fairfax.

Washcycle: With regards fixed and variable costs of transportation infrastructure, users should pay for the damage they cause--i.e. the variable costs of the system. As a biker using regular traffic lanes, I should bear some of the fixed costs of this infrastructure. Cars, and especially trucks, cause much more damage than bicycles and perhaps should pay for the filling of potholes. Casual empiricism suggests that not all potholes are caused by traffic. [Somehow there always appear the be the same amount of potholes in the bike lane as in the regular traffic lane going down Wilson. :) ]

Automobile drivers DO pay a user fee: the gas tax. The amount of gas tax one pays is typically proportional to the amount one drives and inversely related to the weight of the vehicle. (I am not arguing what is the appropriate level of that tax.)

How does one pay for maintenance of the multi-user trail? Tax the thing that damages it: those damn trees.

I think it would be interesting to the typical Arlington resident whether he/she thinks that average Arlington pol cares more about maximizing the number of bicyclists or maximizing tax revenue.

Mark, gasoline is an approximation to usage, but it is not a user fee. A guy in my neighborhood has a Tesla, so he doesn't pay any gas tax, even though he's clearly using the road. People who drive hybrids also pay less. People who drive sports cars pay more, even though their cars are very light. People who drive old cars and classic cars also pay more per mile. As an approximation it is actually not that good, and it is getting worse with every technological advance.

A gas tax is a user fee on using gasoline. It is not a user fee on using roads.

Agreed, but it is a lot cheaper to implement than a toll booth on every block or having the potential personal liberty issues associated with closely tracking vehicle movement. (Perhaps a gas tax can be adjusted for vehicle weight and MPG if the car can talk appropriately with the pump.)

As for electric cars, a tax can be levied on electricity used for recharging. Anyone owning a Tesla should be taxed on conspicuous overconsumption just out of spite. :)

I think communicating at the pump/charger is the way to go. Basically, your car would have a unique ID (which it already has two of) and when you pulled in to a station the car would transmit the latest odometer reading. Computers ("we've got a whole room full of computers back here") would subtract the last reading, calculate the bill and add it to your gas bill. If you charge, it would be added to that bill, and if you charge at home, you'd get a monthly bill.

They wouldn't know where you went, but they'd know how far. Something the government knows anyway.

Ignoring externalities is pretty silly, IMO. Now getting a good estimate on that externality as well as the net benefit/cost is another question. I don't think that we have a good estimate regarding the net benefit of driving/cycling from A to B nor their relative benefit.

But clearly there is a huge opportunity cost with parking. That is, the county is subsidizing drivers big time with free and wildy underpriced meter parking.

The County has also consistently underfunded the maintenance of its trails. This means that the same cyclists encouraged by the County to commute on these trails are faced daily with buckled pavement. This is to say nothing of the uncertainty brought by snow, where the lack of clearing resulted in 15,000 to 20,000 fewer trips along one section of the Custis trail in a three week period last year.

Yes. Will this be addressed? When?

@Susan - Best thing you can do if you're an Arlington resident is contact the county board and make your voice heard.

Bike Paths and good transportations plans = increased property values = increased property taxes.

I bought in Arlington bc of good access to bike paths and good access to public transportation. We have always been a one car family. As I leave in the morning, I see a constant migration of bikers towards the Custis Trail on their way to work. I would have to assume that the high number of bikers reflects a value of property owners. They buy property where the is good bike conduits to work.

But we have to admit with Arl's budget crisis... oh wait, they cut almost nothing out of the budget and raised our taxes!!! So bike paths is like the *only* thing getting the ax?? Are they nuts?

Bike Paths and good transportations plans = increased property values = increased property taxes.

I bought in Arlington bc of good access to bike paths and good access to public transportation. We have always been a one car family. As I leave in the morning, I see a constant migration of bikers towards the Custis Trail on their way to work. I would have to assume that the high number of bikers reflects a value of property owners. They buy property where the is good bike conduits to work.

But we have to admit with Arl's budget crisis... oh wait, they cut almost nothing out of the budget and raised our taxes!!! So bike paths is like the *only* thing getting the ax?? Are they nuts?

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