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Colorado state Sen. Ray Scott updates the news about taxes on bicycles

Author: Joey Bunch - July 25, 2017 - Updated: July 25, 2017

Tax Ray ScottState Sen. Ray Scott. R-Grand Junction. (Facebook)

Last week Colorado Politics was the first to tell you about Sen. Ray Scott’s talk on social media about taxing bicycles.

In an interview with us, the Republican pragmatist from Grand Junction said cyclists use the roads just like other forms of transportation, but unlike owners of those other forms of transportation, cyclists pay no taxes to help support the roads or services. Other vehicles, including motorcycles and ATVs, pay gas taxes and vehicle taxes and fees. As expected, the idea is getting pushback from cyclists.

A bike tax passed the Oregon legislature this year, but it was Democrats pushing it and Republicans opposing it.

Scott has a double purpose: to raise some much-needed money for transportation while exposing what he sees as a double-standard. And, thirdly, Scott loves to stir the pot of conversation and debate. He has a wicked sense of humor.

Can a bicycle outrun the tax man forever?

Here’s what Scott said Monday night on Facebook:

I’m a little shocked by the raw nerve I struck with my comments about leveling the playing field between cyclists, ATVs, snowmobiles and watercraft, when it comes to how we treat, and tax, these machines. But maybe I shouldn’t be, given how defensive bicyclists get when anyone raises the apparently politically-incorrect question of whether they benefit from a double standard and ought to pay a fairer share of the cost for the roadways they use with increased frequency. My attempt to start a conversation has been met with hysteria by some and reasonable ideas by others, reflecting a diversity of opinions on the subject that didn’t cut neatly along party or ideological lines.
The Denver Post, for instance, voiced support for bike taxes, while the Grand Junction Sentinel, came out hard against any discussion of the topic. The need to take swipes at me was the only thing both papers apparently agreed on. I’ve heard from normally-tax-averse Republicans supporting some type of tax, fee or assessment on bicyclists, and from Democrats who show zero support, even though their peers in liberal-leaning Oregon already have embraced the idea.
My tracking is showing a 50-50 split on both sides.
The 2018 legislation is still many months away, giving me plenty of time to weigh the wide variety of responses I’ve received and consider next steps. But I’m more convinced than ever, based on the live wire nerve I inadvertently struck when I raised the issue, that this is a debate worth continuing in the down time between legislative sessions, so that any concrete proposals that result can be refined and improved before the General Assembly meets again.
I sincerely appreciate the feedback and responses I’ve received, from all sides, and will be continuing to discuss the issue with colleagues and various stakeholder groups in the time between now and the next session. So keep those cards and letters, those tweets and emails and nasty-grams, coming, folks. This clearly is an issue the Coloradans feel passionately about, and something lawmakers might want to take up when we next meet.

Scott is planting seeds to yield food for thought, but he’ll have a hard time on this one. Cyclists have good friends in the legislature, including passionate riders in both chambers. But he also will have a hard time nailing down all 18 members of the Republican caucus in the Senate. The GOP has only a one-seat majority, but then again Democrats do like a tax for bike lanes and the great outdoors, so don’t count Scott out yet.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.


  • Tannim

    July 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

    If Scott wants to raise taxes, then he’s a RINO and in the wrong statist party.

    That and he needs a diet, badly.

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  • ME White

    July 25, 2017 at 11:37 am

    STUPIDITY!!! Just because he is so out of shape he can’t sit on a bicycle doesn’t mean they have to be taxed. Next he will want to tax every flush of toilets!!

  • ME White

    July 25, 2017 at 11:42 am

    The only GAS a bicycle has is the rider if they eat black beans–and they can’t run on that!!

  • DJ

    July 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    A tax Democrats don’t like.

    • K

      July 27, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Soo revealing…

  • Jahfre

    July 27, 2017 at 7:27 am

    End bike path construction and bike lane maintenance. They create perpetual government bureaucracies and jobs at the expense of non-bikers. Get rid of them.

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