Debunking the Myth of Motorist Entitlement to Monopolize the Road

There's an old line among opponents of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. It says road construction funds shouldn't be used to build bike lanes and sidewalks because cyclists and pedestrians don't contribute to the gasoline taxes that fund road construction.

gas_prices_060908_lg.jpgA bicyclist may be able to duck past high gas prices, but everyone pays for roads. Image via The Daily Green.

Josh Cohen at Network blog Publicola is refuting that argument by examining the transportation budget in Seattle, where local gas taxes play only a small role in the overall picture.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s 2009 annual report breaks down the agency’s $340.8 million budget by funding source. The gas tax accounts for $13.4 million, or 4 percent of that total.  The full budget breakdown (in millions):

Grants & Other: $96.9 (29 percent)
Debt: $77.4 (23 percent)
Bridging the Gap (a property-tax levy passed by voters in 2007): $60.9 (18 percent)
General Fund: $42.3 (12 percent)
Reimbursables: $42 (12 percent)
Gas Tax: $13.4 (4 percent)
Cumulative Reserve Fund: $7.6 (2 percent)

The majority of those funds are paid for by taxes and fees levied to the general public, whether or not they own a car. It's a far cry from a system where drivers are carrying the full costs of roads.

Elsewhere on the Network, Bike Portland admires Boulder, Colorado's "Driven to Drive Less" program, encouraging the public to go carless one day per week; Seattle Transit Blog looks at the success of Tacoma, Washington's "Not on Our Bus" campaign, which seeks to make public transportation more pleasant by cracking down on unlawful or disruptive conduct on buses; and Car Free Baltimore explains why rush hour parking restrictions are bad for pedestrians.