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Bike riders should pay taxes if they expect road improvements

If bicyclists expect more and more improvements for cyclists around the region, Dori Monson says it's time they start paying taxes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Taken from Monday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

I’ve got another example of your tax dollars at work. The City of Tacoma has been ordered to pay $242,000 to a bicyclist who smashed his face into the asphalt after hitting a crack in a bike lane three years ago.

Eugene Smith is the guy who got nearly a quarter of a million dollars. He was riding his bicycle in a bike lane. His front tire got caught in a crack, catapulting him into the street.

I’m somebody who rides his bike in the city all the time. I have my entire life. I know all about navigating city streets. When I used to ride around Ballard, there were those old train tracks everywhere. If you’ve ever ridden the Burke-Gilman, there’s that missing link between the end of the Burke-Gilman in Ballard to Shilshole that they’re working on completing. But you’ve got to navigate on Ballard Avenue, huge missing chunks of concrete, railroad tracks crisscrossing the street.

You’ve got to be really careful about all that stuff when you ride a bicycle. That just goes with the territory, in my view.

But this guy, he had to be hospitalized for three days. He reportedly had a fractured eye bone, a separated shoulder, chipped teeth and a bruised body.

I’m sorry. Is that worth a quarter million dollars of taxpayer money?

His attorney said the city was at fault because it ignored design advice that called for lateral supports to be built into the bike lane to help prevent heavy traffic from damaging the lane’s subsurface.

Here’s my call – and this is coming from somebody who is an avid bicyclist myself – as we give and give and give to the bicycle community with dedicated bike paths, with all that we’re doing downtown, tearing up streets, do you think maybe, just maybe, we should start asking the bicycle community to give back?

I’m not a big taxation guy. There are very few taxes I’m in favor of. But when they’re taking everybody else’s tax money basically to help out the five or six percent of the population that avidly rides bicycles – myself included – maybe it’s time for the bicycle community to start paying dedicated taxes themselves.

The City of Seattle spent $35 million on bike lanes the last few years under Mike McGinn. The City of Tacoma now has to pay a quarter million tax dollars because a bicyclist hit a crack in the road.

Either we should tell bicyclists that you have to assume some risks when you’re out riding on these streets, or we should have the bicyclists pay for the improvements that they say they so desperately need to make their streets as perfect and as pristine as they can be so that riding becomes a safer endeavor.

Taken from Monday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tacoma ordered to pay $242,000 to bicyclist


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