SUBSIDIES NOT TAXES FOR BICYCLES

Recently the Oregon Legislature signed a transportation package that includes a bicycle tax, a $15 excise tax applied to 26″ or bigger bicycles over $200. Already Colorado is considering taking similar measures. The target of this new revenue is bicycle infrastructure.

So let me see if got this straight. Subsidies for people who drive EVs (Electric Vehicle)  and a tax for those who buy a bicycle. Something’s wrong with this picture. This is an unprecedented step in the wrong direction, just like subsidies for EVs. The new law goes into effect in 2018 but can be stopped at the ballot box in January. Even Tesla’s Elan Musk wants an end to subsidies for EV’s …………ahhh……….after he’s gotten his.  It should be the other way around! Sure the EV uses less energy saving the driver money on top of the no road tax, and there are fewer emissions, well…the emissions are moved back to the coal plant, but come on! A bicycle tax! Aside from the tires and a bit of chain lube it uses zero fossil fuel.  A ZEV (zero emissions vehicle) credit is also needed. Then there’s the healthy life style thing. Most, not all, but most of the folks I ride with eat better, drink plenty of water, get sufficient rest and work the cardio pretty good several times a week all combined to stay away from our ailing health care system. Then of course there’s the mental health aspect of cycling, this remaining portal to personal freedom, self expression and socializing. It’s good for the soul. I say the government should PROVIDE bicycles for people and give them a tax credit for miles ridden. You would get some sorta GPS dongle to affix to your bike to substantiate the mileage…………………ain’t never gonna happen.

Surprised!  I’m not. I have this very conversation with local cycling friends who advocate for improvements to infrastructure for cycling, wanting more bike lanes, sharrows, signs and even bike racks strategically placed. I’m not opposed to any of these things nor do I object to the EV,  I just know that when there’s opportunity for government to tax me they will. They can’t help themselves. Government’s first job is to perpetuate itself. My fear is that I’ll need to register my bicycles, display a tag and be required to carry proof of insurance. Sounds fair. After all I’m a vehicle, and around here I pay no road tax just like the EV. Good luck stopping any of this. Government’s 2nd job is to get re-elected and the vast majority of voting citizens see cyclist as a nuisance and would be in favor of the bicycle tax. In the eyes of lawmakers this makes us a soft target. No army can stop an ideas who time has come (Victor Hugo) and just like the EV, the bicycle tax is coming.

Good for you. You made it through my rant and now………….the rest of the story. Did I tell ya our rental car for our last road trip had California plates? It did. What a hoot. Everywhere we pulled in people gave us the eyeball. We’re totally lost somewhere off interstate 81 around Mt Rogers looking for Rush Creek, VA., me dear sweet mums ancestral home, never found it. We made the fatal error or relying on a cell phone signal and GPS for navigation. Had neither. The spell cast upon us by these conveniences had been broken.  We had a paper map but alas Rush Creek not showing up on it, way too small like fly poop in the pepper. We did find Widener Valley and so we were close. Anyway we’re lost. Again it’s the Quicky Mart, Stop & Rob kinda place to the rescue. We pull in and we’re getting the eyeball from a guy who says “Pretty far from home ain’t cha?” To which I reply ” We’re just pokin’ around. We’re kinda lost. Wouldn’t happen to know where Rush Creek is would ya? Can’t seem to find it on the map.” He proudly replies”yeah we’re pretty hard to find. I’ve heard of Rush Creek. Can’t rightly say where it’s at.” Okay……we decide that Rush Creek will have to wait until we can gather more intel and so we ask our new friend about getting back onto 81. His directions make it sound like a Rubix Cube but we know we want to head west. Dead reckoning to the rescue once again. Valerie is the best navigator I’ve ever known followed closely by my son. Both grew up holding the paper map in their lap on the car trip because of their persistent are we there yet are we there yet?  We finally stumble back onto Rt. 81.

This part of the world  is rustic scenic. Blue looking mountains all around and not much else. We’re heading towards Charlottesville Va. so I can ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We’re going to camp right nearby just off route 250. We wrangle a bit with the owner of the campground over our site and sure enough we get a better one, lay of the land upgrade. The camp is nice but a bit warmer than Tennessee, but it’s dry. The connectors to Blue Ridge and the Skyline Drive from our camp are un-ridable. Rt 250 can’t be avoided and it’s small, busy and there’s no room for me. I do a recon and discover all of this plus the fact that to ride the Skyline Drive cost $10.00, and so the Blue Ridge it is. It runs south of the Skyline and my plan was to ride a 30 mile loop, south on the Blue Ridge and then west and north on some lesser roads.

Valerie drops me off the following morning later than I would have liked because we decided to find a place to have breakfast. Easier said then done although well worth the effort. We stumble upon the little town of Croset and a tiny little breakfast lunch place called Green House Coffee. Perfect. Great coffee and food. Staffed by the owner and her family. Just a cool old house turned into a restaurant. While there we make note of the pizza place and low and behold…..Star Hill Brewery. I’m bettin’ we’ll return.

I’m finally on the bike and once again I’m climbing. It’s wonderful. Scenic overlooks abound. This ain’t Tennessee. This place is manicured to within’ an inch of it’s life. There are tourist, rest stops with gifts and information. Traffic was very light and there’s plenty of room me and I’m seeing other riders. Suddenly without prompting, involuntarily, this odd reflex of my mind begins to play Pete Towshend’s Pure and Easy. But the weather doesn’t appear to want to cooperate, thunderheads off over some valley are headed my way. I proceed south. I’ve gotten wet before riding and sometimes, those times when it’s awful hot, it feels great. I’m 10 miles in to my planned route gaining altitude all the way thanks to a nice long climb and at about 3000 feet there’s turbulence and the rain clouds become a bit more ominous. Crap! I hate to call it off but I decide to do an about face and hi tail it back to the car. By now a mighty tail wind is pushing me pretty good. I feel feather light on the descents but the air is almost violent and my stability is being threatened. I need to slow down. As luck would have it I manage to get back before the rain where Valerie awaits. She’s happy to see me back so soon, safe and sound yes but it turns out we’re in Virginia wine country and I’ve promised to spend the rest of the day touring vineyards.

For me it’s the “can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” kinda deal, I don’t care much for wine, just give me a local lager or an IPA, but it’s not all about me, as I’m told quiet often and vineyard touring is relaxing, harmless and the countryside is breathtaking and so why not.  Funny thing; We pass this little road side cafe looking place making note of it for lunch a bit later. Sure enough we stop in afterwards and it turns out to be some sorta hipster new age kinda Vegan joint and before I can register my complaint Valerie opts out. She knows this is too much of a challenge for my delicate psyche and so it’s back to Croset for excellent pizza and craft beer. My girl knows me and love can be said many different ways. Hmmm. I wonder if the Vegans are getting subsidies? Cow farts  or “bovine entric fermentation adds a lot of CO2 to the atmosphere and they don’t eat cows. I just wonder. That should be the other way around. I mean a paleo diet would eliminates cows altogether……………..never mind.

All the above plus time with the kids, grand kids and then fighting our way through DC traffic at rush hour to get to Westchester PA. to visit an old friend. The two places almost don’t connect. After which we meander south along the Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina coast trying to stay on the road less traveled arriving eventually in Savanna Ga. for three days of sitting on the back porch or in the pool or riding with my grandson Joey. I would purposely half wheel him and each and every time I did he responded. Gonna need to watch out for him before too much longer. He would do well on the BMX circuit already.

I am content.

 

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