Yesterday on The Daily Weekly I wrote about the proposed $25 tax on bikes that cost $500 or more included in a recent transportation budget floated by House Democrats in Olympia. Specifically, the post centered on who would bear the brunt of such a tax - should it ever come to fruition.
The reaction to the proposed bicycle tax was predictable. Cyclists and urbanites largely denounced the plan as ridiculous and dumb. Meanwhile, suburbanites, bike haters and the Republicans in Olympia the provision was apparently supposed to appease were totally cool with it.
The question is: Who will the tax - if it should ever become law (which is hopefully a long shot) - really impact?
As Peter Callaghan of The News Tribune in Tacoma tweeted the day the transportation package was announced:
Seems simple enough, right? I mean, only some sort of granola crunching snob would spend more than 500 bones on a bike, right?
Neil Wechsler - the owner of the Montlake Bicycle Shop - says that's not really the case. Wechsler says average commuter bikes at his shop - the kind that people buy for getting around a city, not winning the Tour de France - start at around $400 and quickly surpass the $500 total. He says hardcore cyclists can easily spend in the thousands, and only the Targets and Walmarts of the world carry a large selection of cheaper bikes.
For this reason, Wechsler says the folks likely to be most affected by a $25 bike tax are those just looking to commute in Seattle more sustainably. The big spenders likely wouldn't be dissuaded by an extra $25 on top of an already pricey expenditure, and anyone buying a Huffy at Walmart isn't going to have to deal with it.
"My biggest concern is the inequity of it," says Wechsler. "We're trying to get the riders in the state of Washington to buy lower quality bikes for what reason?"
To which commenter jconehead responds:
The big spender will not be affected anymore than they are by being taxed almost 10% now for that purchase. There are a lot of bikes for sale on CL and Ebay that will not be subject to the $25 fee. I just bought the bike I wanted for $800 off CL. In a store it would have been over a $1800. A fee like that won't stop evereyone from doing that due to convenience, but it will push some buyers to go that direction.