Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bicycling

Oregon May Expand Its Petty Bicycle Tax to Children’s Bikes

Oregon taxes bikes. And not just a normal sales tax. We're talking about a special excise tax that applies to bicycles and only bicycles.

Why? Not because the state needs the money.

Lawmakers predict the tax will bring in just $1.2 million a year, not enough to build something of statewide significance, even in the dirt-cheap world of bike infrastructure. The real reason Oregon taxes bikes is because some people resent the idea of making streets safe for cycling. The bike tax is the manifestation of their political will.

The tax was also seen as a way to sweeten the deal for a transportation spending package that bike and transit advocates generally approved of. To bolster the impression that the tax is somehow connected to transportation policy, a provision was included to exempt kids' bikes. But the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) thinks that was a bad move.

Now state lawmakers are preparing to expand the tax to include kids' bikes, reports Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland:

As currently written, “taxable bicycle” is defined as a bicycle with a wheel diameter of 26-inches or larger (so as not to tax children’s bikes) and a retail price of $200 or more. DOR’s proposal would drop the wheel-size stipulation from the definition and the tax would then apply to all bikes over $200.

DOR thinks the existing law is too complicated, and lawmakers think that children's bikes mostly cost under $200 anyway. But the bike industry begs to differ, Maus reports:

In a letter dated February 21st, the Director of State and Local Policy for the PeopleForBikes Coalition Alex Logemann, National Bicycle Dealers Association Board Chair Brandee Lepak, and Bicycle Product Suppliers Association President Adam Micklin urged Committee members to maintain the 26-inch wheel diameter requirement.

“Our objection to altering the minimum wheel size requirement is premised on two issues,” they wrote, “1) the new bicycles that will be subject to taxation will primarily be children’s bikes; and 2) it will place an additional burden on bicycle shops that have already invested resources to comply with the tax.”

You'd think the bureaucrats and legislators in Oregon would have more important things to concentrate on than squeezing a few more dollars out of parents buying bicycles for their kids. It is, after all, supposed to be one of the more bike-friendly states. But once you start down the path of resentment-based transportation policy, who knows where it will lead.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

New York City Roadway Dining at Risk of Dramatic Decline As Deadline Looms

Fewer than two dozen restaurants are in the pipeline for roadside seating, according to public records.

July 12, 2024

Opinion: Congestion Pricing Is A Compromise

Alternatives paths to cut congestion and pollution and fund the MTA make congestion tolls look like a cheap parlor trick.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Department of Victim Blaming Edition

Traffic deaths in the city are on pace to reach their highest number since at least 2013 — and DOT is reportedly blaming "jaywalking." Plus more news.

July 12, 2024

‘Suburban’ Queens Stalwarts Take Hard Line Against Housing — To Rest of City’s Detriment

“That's what they bought in the suburbs for, that's why they raised their family in the suburbs," said Council Member Joann Ariola, whose district contains 14 subway stations.

July 11, 2024

DOT Seeks New Camera Enforcement Contract to Better Catch Obscured License Plates

The city's current contractor has let hundreds of thousands of reckless drivers off the hook.

July 11, 2024
See all posts