Excise tax on some new bicycles begins January 1

(SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. -- In the coming new year, new bicycles will be a little more expensive.

Oregon's transportation package includes a $15 excise tax on on bikes sold for $200 or more with wheels at least 26 inches, like those sold at Paul's Bicycle Way of Life.

"For us, it's just embarrassing," Partner Owner and General Manager Matt Ritzow said. "Most bicycle buyers also own vehicles. They're already paying for roads in a lot of different ways, whether it's through fuel taxes or registration taxes."

He fears the bike tax could be a slippery slope: "What scares me is the $15 tax just opens the door to doubling it or tripling it."

Other bicyclists, like Larry Diffie, look forward to where the money will go.

"If it will help the government to create new bike lanes, new paths, new trails then it's not a bad thing," he said.

Revenue from the tax goes to the Connect Oregon Fund which provides grants for bicycle and pedestrian transportation projects statewide.

Ritzow doubts the state could make enough money from the tax to have any real impact.

"The amount of money it's going to generate is like under two million dollars. That's probably 300 feet of dedicated bike paths somewhere," he said.

But Diffie says it's movement in the right direction: "Let's start slow and see what happens."

Paul's Bicycle Way of Life is offering $15 coupons for the month of January to cover the tax cost for their customers.

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