Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bicyclists Face Delays in Being Able to Ride

State income tax receipts are down an average of 25% for the first quarter of 2009 compared with 2008. With such a large revenue loss facing the state budgets, there will be little hope that bicycle infrastructure projects will get funded.

This will delay the planned bicycle trips of many of the bicyclists that have been waiting for bike lanes and bike paths in order to go riding. The safety that would accrue to all cyclists when they started riding will also be delayed. Oh, the anguish!

Texas has tied in fourth place for the biggest gain/least loss of income tax revenue. We have tied with Alaska, Florida, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming- the six* states that have not imposed an income tax on it's citizens. Only Alabama, North Dakota and Utah have higher receipts this year over last.

Perhaps even worse news is that sales tax receipts have also fallen sharply, (Off 5.9% in May YoY for Texas) which will affect state budgets even more. City budgets are dependent on the twin streams of income- sales tax and property taxes- two more that are shrinking! Will the cities have enough wherewithal to sweep all the existing bike lanes?**

Will the advocates of new bicycle infrastructure projects be able to keep their jobs during this downturn? Without someone else's money to spend, will there be a reason to justify their salaries? Is there a future for bicycling its self? Or will bicycling slowly fade away, a curious phenomena that lasted a brief 125 years?

There are, however, a few strong and brave individuals that will sally forth into the traffic, unmindful of the lack of bicycle infrastructure! This hardy band of daredevils will take to the lanes and become a part of the traffic flow. So enamored are they with the joy of cycling, they will ride even with the predictions of mayhem from bicycle advocates ringing in their ears! Will these devil-may-care men and women*** survive the blight of bicycle lane production? We shall see.

*Thank you SteveA for correcting this point. I had overlooked Washington state, now corrected.

**The answer is no. They can't find the money to do that in a roaring economy, how could they fund it now?

***VC women are, as a group, lovelier and more fun to be around as well.


  1. An interesting post. There are factual errors, but also brilliant insights. Amongst the first - Washington State (a bastion of bike lanes) does not levy income taxes. Amongst the latter, I suspect the last paragraph of the post is true, though I've never actually seen any riding except in videos...

  2. Thanks SteveA, I have corrected that error, and added a new chart showing the impact of the income tax shortfall to the overall state budgets.

    The serious point I am trying to make is that any hope for near term implementation of bicycle projects is dead. There will be very painful and serious reductions in state and city operations. Bicycle projects are low hanging fruit.

    And calls for new and higher taxes. Traffic enforcement will be looked to for an increased revenue stream. Development grants may disappear, and thus the committees that survive on them. Hard times are comin', but the river Nile is deep and wide.

  3. A special note to CAFIEND-

    I "approved" your comment, and wished to respond to it, but it has inexplicably seemed to have disappeared! Please comment again, I am sorry for the mix-up.

  4. Cafiend's comment was retrived from Gmail's trash, and here is what he said:

    "The lazy and the scared are people too. The best solution would accommodate a variety of user groups.

    Do away with mandatory bike route and side path laws, but develop a variety of facilities to take advantage of ALL of the bicycle's advantages.

    Otherwise the lazy and the scared join the pool of bitter motorists already too large for everyone's own good."

  5. I'm lazy & scared, but I also notice a couple of things about these characteristics. When I'm being lazy, I can always find another excuse not to do something. When I'm scared, more often than not, it seems connected to some nearby poorly thought-out facility. I'm also scared that tight funding will make those same facilities even scarier due to lack of upkeep.