Kids, Seniors Pay User Fees, Cyclists Don’t



So while Timmy Two-Wheeler and his cyclist posse glide down millions of dollars of bike lanes in the city, they pay not a nickel for licences or user fees or policing of their non-law-abiding fellows.

Meanwhile as per our new civic budget, young figure skaters, minor-league hockey players and senior-age pucksters are seeing huge increases in user fees.

Worse than all this, if you can believe it, is that drivers, who are paying big gas taxes so that cyclists can freeload on their fancy new lanes, are dissed by cyclists.

If the city believes in user fees, start charging the cyclists for the huge expenditures in new bike lanes. And start licensing them so that drivers have a fighting chance of not hitting them when cyclists don’t obey the road rules.


Video above: Why cyclists need to be licensed.


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12 thoughts on “Kids, Seniors Pay User Fees, Cyclists Don’t

  1. Ken,
    Before the negative comments start coming your way, I’d like to say that I understand your point.

    It isn’t about bike lanes, bike rules, bike riders. It is about user fees and the budget.

    User fees generate money that comes above and beyond property tax revenue. User fees help keep property taxes down. User fees make people think, that yes, users should be paying for the things they use.

    But there is a great flaw in the logic. Every person in the city uses something but user fees are only applied as extra charges when you can nail the user down to the particular service that has been targeted.

    You can hit the water user using a metre, the transit rider at the point of entry, the library user upon checking out a book, etc., etc..

    You can nail a skater with a fee as there is a door to the arena that blocks usage but how do you collect a fee from somebody skating on the canal?

    So, which user pays a fee is solely contingent upon blocking usage until a fee is collected. Then the collector of the fee must decide if the cost of collecting the fee outweighs the fee collected.

    You want water – we can nab you using a metre and charge you, pretty much, what we can get away with.
    You want to skate in our arena or ride our bus – we can nab you at the door and, pretty much, charge you any amount we can suck out of you.
    You want to drive a car – we can nab you with an annual plate fee and every time you gas up.

    Now here comes two new points that are going to cause the collectors of user fees some head scratching:
    – increased demand for bike lanes causes increased cost but how do we nab the users?
    – increased use of electric cars ( charged in your driveway ) will go hand-in-hand with less gas tax but how are the collectors of the road tax user fees going to collect?

    User fees are illogical unless they apply to every user of every service and not just to services that can be withdrawn at point of use.

    1. Chaz:

      You can’t use major city bike lanes unless you have a sticker on your bike that says you’ve paid the fee.

      It works in Gatineau Park for cross-country skiing. Surely we can do the same for bikes.

      And as for the cost of collecting fees, we could get Watson to spend a day in his office to sell stickers.



      1. Ken,
        There you go – if they can manage to charge a cross-country skier then why not charge a bike lane user?
        It should be all a matter of logic; except, it isn’t ,is it?

        It is really about politics. Skaters , cross-country skiers, water users, bus riders, etc.; all use and pay – so why can’t bike riders?

        Either charge all users or charge no users.

        There is no logic to differentiate one group of user from another, unless you are counting votes or are a member of the group that doesn’t want to pay.


        1. Chaz:

          I don’t think you have to charge all users of city services.

          I can’t see a user fee for sidewalks.

          But when you have cyclists all over the roads breaking rules, maybe it’s time to raise some revenue for policing.



    2. Chaz:

      The mayor has you drinking the cool aid. User fees don’t keep your taxes down because the city still gets your money. The only way to keep our taxes down is to lower our taxes and that is not happening.

      I’m not even sure a sticker is going to help. It’s not doing that good of a job with the cars on the Ottawa roads.

      1. Kosmo:

        Stickers have been doing a great job on licences.

        Any revenue helps and it could go to getting cycling police handing out tickets for horrible cyclists. That’s a problem.



        1. Ken:

          I would dispute that. I heard there could be as many as 30 per cent of the cars on Ontario roads without plate stickers or insurance.

        2. Help to get horrible bike drivers under control with a proper bike driver’s licence not a sticker.
          Drivers licences can be taken away from repeat offenders.

      2. Kosmo.
        No Kool-A drinking.
        I was clear that user fees are revenue generators above and beyond property taxes.
        Perhaps I was too cryptic by saying, “User fees make people THINK, that yes, users should be paying for the things they use.”

        In other words, user fees, merely, make people feel better because, after all, it isn’t tax – it’s a user fee.

        While charging a sidewalk fee is a bit silly, it still falls into the logic equation.
        What are property taxes to pay for if not public services?
        Who decides which public service is covered and which require extra fees?
        Is a sidewalk less of a public service than a trail?
        If it makes sense to pay a fee for a winter trail’s maintenance, then it makes equal sense to pay a fee for a cement trail’s (sidewalk) maintenance.

        So why not charge a fee for sidewalk use?


        1. Chaz:

          If you want to charge a sidewalk user fee, feel free but don’t run for office.

          Motorists pay for road maintenance (including bike lanes) in part through gas taxes. A user fee. So why can’t cyclists chip in? Did they sprain their wallet hand?



          1. Ken,
            Again, I guess I was too cryptic. I was trying to break the thinking that a user fee is a fair thing.

            A user fee is a politician’s way of hiding the truth and they have done a great job of convincing the public that a user fee is so much more appropriate than a tax.

            User fees are a tax – period.

            Gas tax is a tax, lottery tickets are a tax, casinos are a tax, sin taxes on tobacco and booze are taxes, a fishing licence is a tax, HST, property tax, income tax, health care tax.

            Various forms of government are adept at hiding tax by making people think that all the money collected is one thing and another thing. There are all taxes.

            If a society determines that its government is suppose to provide specific services, then just be honest about where the money comes from. It all comes from you and me.

            Governments must stop hiding what it costs to run a city, a province, the country.

            Back to bike lanes: Under the current system of endless tax ruses that are hidden under a multitude of guises, the pols feel comfortable charging skaters and skiers but they don’t feel comfortable charging cyclists. There is no logic. It is just politics.

            And by the way, why should gas tax pay for roads? Roads benefit every single person. Without a proper road system, the downtown would be a mud pit. Delivering essential food and supplies to the citizens would be impossible. Don’t bother calling an ambulance because it will never get to you.

            As to what is fair revenue generation model for the running of a government, well that’s a whole different discussion.


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