MAYOR’S MESSAGE: Victoria’s Lisa Helps explains bike lane finances

Gas taxes a primary funder for Pandora Avenue infrastructure

The Pandora Avenue two-way separated bike lane opened on time and on budget on May 1.

It’s been open for a month now and the use has been staggering. Preliminary data reveal that we’re seeing well over 1,000 people per day using the infrastructure. This is a marked increase from usage on Pandora before the lanes opened.

In addition to data-driven declarations of success even in these early days, anecdote and observation tell a deeper story. Before the installation of the Pandora bike lane, I can’t say I’d ever seen someone under the age of 10 riding their own bike downtown. Now I’m seeing young kids, on their own two wheels, trailing closely behind their parents. And not only on sunny weekend days but also during the morning and afternoon commutes.

The new bike lane is making older kids and their parents feel safer, too. I got this email from a Vic High parent last week: “Good morning Lisa. We attended my daughter’s last dance performance at Victoria High. After we left for home in our car, she left on her bike. She got home shortly after us. We said, ‘That was quick, how did you do that?’ She said, ‘I took the protected bike lanes; Lisa gave us a map.’ Thank you. Knowing my daughter is safe means a lot to us.”

These kids and teenagers are the people we built the bike lanes for. They’ll grow up knowing how to move through the city by bicycle and they’ll be able to do it safely. Biking will be normal for them, not some “alternate” mode of transportation.

In addition to smiles and emails of thanks from parents, we’ve also received emails saying that cyclists should be paying their fair share for this new infrastructure. And that the Pandora bike lane was a waste of their property tax dollars.

In fact, it’s the opposite. People who ride bikes more than they drive cars subsidize infrastructure for cars. Everyone pays property taxes (those who rent pay them through their rent) and it’s property taxes that pay for roads.

It’s enormously expensive to build and maintain roads for vehicles, which are much harder on roads than bikes or pedestrians. Vehicle use produces potholes and the need for pavement repair. Vehicles mean that when we build new infrastructure like the Johnson Street Bridge we need to build additional wide, expensive lanes for cars. Those who bike, take transit, or walk more than they drive are subsidizing car infrastructure.

Second, the Pandora bike lanes were not paid for with property taxes, but rather with gas taxes. Gas taxes are collected when people pump gas into their cars. Many people who ride bikes also drive cars from time to time so they are helping to pay for this infrastructure, too.

Want to learn more about the economics of cycling? Join us on Monday, June 5 from noon to 1 p.m. at City Hall for Monday’s monthly Lunchtime Lecture featuring Portland’s Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy.

Lisa Helps is mayor of Victoria.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Challengers topple incumbents in several South Island races

2018 civic election ushers in new faces across the CRD

Victoria and Saanich voters elect to move ahead with amalgamation talks

Victoria and Saanich voters have chosen to move ahead with exploring amalgamation… Continue reading

Prank pizzas delivered to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps’ campaign celebration

The fake orders happened throughout Helps’ campaign

Victoria gets back on the bike for week-long commute competition

Second Bike to Work Week hits the pavement Oct. 22 to 28

VIDEO: Tent city moves to Woodwynn Farm, arrests made

The group is asking the government to provide housing for 60 tent city members

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

MLA to become Nanaimo’s next mayor, could weaken NDP’s grasp on power

Leonard Krog’s win will trigger a byelection when he gives up his provincial seat

Horvat nets OT winner as Canucks beat Bruins 2-1

Young Vancouver star had spirited scrap earlier in contest

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Most Read