Potholes, what are they good for? Absolutely nothin’!

Photo by autumnlight, via Flickr creative commons

Let’s face the facts. The road conditions around much of Los Angeles County STINK.

When it comes to cycling in the region, there’s nothing worse than knowing you’ll inevitably be encountering one of the many potholes, bumps, cracks, and cratered manholes scattered throughout the area. Too often, they tend to ruin a perfectly good ride. Don’t believe me? Try speeding down Wilshire Boulevard on a bicycle, it’ll feel like you’re sitting on a massage chair … from hell.

In my opinion, potholes and cracks are a cyclist’s worst enemy. Not only do they make it dangerous to ride, but they make it stressful as well. They slow us down, force us to swerve left and right in traffic, and can lead to serious injuries and expensive bike repairs.

Imagine such a scenario: One moment you’re riding down a street with nothing but smiles, then KA-BAM! A wide enough crack on the road sucks your front wheel in and the next thing you realize, you’re flapping your arms like a distorted seagull having been launched into the air like a human cannonball. Then, impact. Ouch.

Fellow cyclist Lynn shows the injuries she received (right) after crashing from a pothole (left) on a night group ride.

I’ve had a few fellow cyclists, including myself get pretty banged up after our own unfortunate encounters with a pothole. With injuries ranging from minor scruffs to severe broken bones and deep road rashes, shabby road conditions are no laughing matter.

And, in addition to causing physical injury, our poor precious bikes suffer just as well from potholes. Hit one hard enough at a good speed and you’ll end up with a flat tube, a bent wheel, and/or in the worst scenario, a broken frame. Any carbon road bike owner would shudder at such an event.

So what can we as Angelenos do to improve our hazardous roads, which at times often resembles the streets of a war-torn city? How can we make our commuting less hazardous, and more importantly, help make commutes safer for other cyclists? Surprisingly, the answer isn’t really that difficult, but few seem to know how to follow up on it.

If you ever see a hazardous road condition such as a pothole that affects your commute, simply report it to the department within that city that handles street maintenance; for example the city of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Services via their online Service Request Form. If the hazard is within the boundaries of an unincorporated part of L.A. County, you can report it to the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Works through this webpage.

If unsure of who to report to, you can always use the County’s online Service Locator to find the answer. However, anything reported through the County’s webpage is usually forwarded to the proper handler. As unbelievable as it may sound given the illusion of how dysfunctional and financially strapped our local government is, the report-it-and-we’ll-come-out-and-fix-it system actually works!

As of today, I’ve reported a grand total of 14 road hazards which range from deep potholes to wide cracks on the road, all of which I had to painstakingly avoid during my commutes. So far 11 of the 14 hazards have been fixed, and each report was taken care of within a month to three months of having reported on it. Not bad at all if you ask me.

So the next time you’re on your bike and have the unfortunate pleasure of biking into or coming across a road hazard like a pothole, don’t ignore it, report it. Do it for yourself and for your fellow cyclists here in L.A.

Categories: Bicycle

41 replies

  1. “Go Green ride a bike.”

    Not everyone follows the “suck up waiting for the bus and ride the bicycle for healthy and greener living lifestyle” mindset. “Going green” is at most, a secondary issue for most people.

    For most Angelinos and the rest of America, and most likely the rest of the world, “the freedom to go anywhere they want when they want” and do that travel for cheap is much more important to their lifestyle.

    In the end, it’s always time and money. Waiting for the bus and riding a bicycle is a waste of time if you have something faster to get around with. Paying $900/yr for a monthly bus pass when the cost of ownership of a moped or scooter is much cheaper than that, especially at shorter distances, is a waste of money.

    If you look around, you see a growing number of Angelinos doing exactly that. Green is secondary to time and money.

    In foresight, I do not expect 100% of Angelinos to move to public transit even if all these projects are made. There are just too many inefficiencies to mass transit that LA has not resolved yet. The flat rate policy does not make it cost worthy for short distance riders, therefore Metro will still not gain the market of short distance travel needs to the car, motorcycle, or the bicycle. They have not figured out a way to increase their farebox recovery ratios, which means how long people will be for taxpayer funded mass transit still remains up in the air.

    Overall, I’m making the assumption that while mass transit may see some ridership increase for long distance commuters, the short distance needs will move from the private automobile to two wheelers. In about ten years from now, we’ll probably see a lot more motorcycles and scooters on the road today. You already see this shift happening in some parts of LA and near college campuses. Even at Anime Expo and the X Games this weekend, there were several people going there on a motorcycle.

  2. “While electric scooters and motorcycles are certainly nice (and quiet, I assume! I personally dislike motorcycles because they are very noisy), they are also quite expensive.”

    As with anything new like electric a hybrid vehicles when they first started, they’re usually expensive when they first come out. But as more get produced and mass production stage is set, prices drop dramatically.

    Remember when flat screen TVs were toys for the rich? Now anyone can buy a very nice one for less than $800 at Wal-Mart these days.

    I expect electric and hybrid motorcycles will become the next wave of the future as current bicyclists move up from bicycles to moped and scooters.

    “So if you can afford a motorcycle/scooter (don’t forget, you have to get insurance for those as well) and driving one is something you’re interested in trying, great! But there’s no reason to discount those who prefer bicycles.”

    If you can afford a laptop to post on The Source, you can easily afford a moped or scooter (avg. $1,000-$2,000)

    If you can afford paying high speed internet for $60/month, you can afford insurance for a motorcycle (avg. $100/yr)

    The cost of ownership of a two-wheeled vehicle is much less than a car and they may just be much cheaper than paying for Metro’s monthly passes for $900/yr. There’s a reason why they are very popular in Southeast Asia; it’s because they are really cheap to own.

  3. While electric scooters and motorcycles are certainly nice (and quiet, I assume! I personally dislike motorcycles because they are very noisy), they are also quite expensive.

    I’m not disputing that motorcycles/scooters can be a convenient and environmentally friendly travel option, but let’s not forget there are many reasons to ride bikes. They are, of course, environmentally friendly, and they also provide (sometimes much needed) exercise, they are very quiet (if your bike is noisy, you might want to have it checked out) and some people find them safer as you don’t weave in and out of traffic (at least you shouldn’t, and certainly not at high speeds) on a bike.

    So if you can afford a motorcycle/scooter (don’t forget, you have to get insurance for those as well) and driving one is something you’re interested in trying, great! But there’s no reason to discount those who prefer bicycles.

    Anna Chen
    Contributor, The Source

  4. @Mospeada, There are electric motorcycles (and scooters). They are less smoggy than the gassers. I recently looked into them and there are a growing variety. http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=electric+motorcycles

    A further advantage of a motor over a car, single person carpool lane.
    A further advantage of a motor over a bike, you can go on the freeway (and they are practical for longer distances than bikes are).

  5. I encourage every car owner in LA to do their part in reducing street damage…by learning how to ride a motorcycle!

    They are more fuel efficient, they get great gas mileage, they take up less parking space, and they weigh less than cars, trucks, SUVs and buses. They’re faster than a bicycle and much more cheaper and time efficient than waiting for the bus. It’s also ideal for short trip errands like going to the local bank, the post office and your local supermarket.

    Even if you don’t intend on owning a motorcycle or scooter, at least acquire the skill of learning how to ride one; remember a skill lasts a lifetime!

  6. Additionally, as Dennis points out, enabling more people to shift some of their travel to non-automobile modes (like bikes, or a bike/Metro combo — can’t do that without good bike routes, racks on the buses, space on the trains and racks/lockers at the stations) reduces the need for automobile-specific infrastructure. Streets and highways are expensive to maintain and frequently wear out before they can generate enough value in the form of jobs and revenue to recoup the capital outlays needed to construct them, necessitating massive public subsidies. Examples here: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2011/6/14/the-growth-ponzi-scheme-part-2.html

    Depending on the circumstances, spending money on bike infrastructure could arguably be the more fiscally conservative option.

  7. Vote Libertarian: I don’t consider spending money on bike routes to/from transit stops and employment centers to be wasteful. It’s a worthwhile investment that gives people more options, helps them get where they’re going safely, and increases their chances of being productive and contributing to our economy.

  8. Los Angeles needs to spend $285 millon annually on street repairs for ten years in order to get the street conditions up to a level of ‘B’ grade, according to the 2008 report from the Bureau of Street Services.

    LA takes in about $104 million each year in gas taxes. That’s $181 million short of what is annually needed to improve the condition of the streets.

    The local share for Measure R brings in about $40 million annually to Los Angeles. That still leaves us $141 million annually short to repair the roads.

    Los Angeles allows cars to be stored on the street in front of residences for free. Thats part of the street that is not used for transporting people, just storage. You could put at least eight bicycles in a single car parking space. So which is more wasteful, the car parking space or using the space more efficiently for bicycles?

    The city of Los Angeles also has ordinances which require businesses to have large enough quantities of parking to accomodate shoppers at Christmas time. The rest of the year the lots go unfilled. That excess parking could be used for another business to bring in jobs and taxes to the city. Downtown Los Angeles has more space devoted to parking than any other city in the world.

    There are seven parking spaces for every car in Los Angeles. I’d say that is a waste of space and could be used more efficiently if bicycling was encouraged by putting in infrastructure.

    If there is not enough space or money to expand the number of lanes for streets in Los Angeles, then growing the number of vehicles will increase the congestion. Reducing, or eliminating funding of transit or bicycling infrastructure will encourage people to drive, which will increase congestion. More efficient utilization of the space that we have by encouraging transit and bicycle use will enable the city to accomodate more people.

  9. “Waiting for a bus is frequently slower and less convenient than using a bike.”

    It’s also just cheaper and faster to drive for shorter distances. Paying a $1.50 per ride or paying $900 a year for a monthly passes within ten miles commuting distance isn’t worth taking public transit.

  10. “Compared to those projects, the money Metro gives out for bike infrastructure is a rounding error.”

    So small amounts mean nothing to you? If the world worked that way, then I suppose murdering millions like Josef Stalin is significant while murdering one person in a local homicide is not worth going after spending our tax dollars through our judicial system because it’s a “rounding error” to human casualty.

    Size doesn’t matter. Tax wasted is a tax waste, and it comes from OUR paycheck. The money is better spent on something else like lowering student loan interest.

    Of course, if you don’t feel that way, please write your own $1,000,000 check. I’m sure all the hungry homeless people and the university students who are burdened with high student debts would give you a medal for that.

    All you so-called liberals don’t really know what the true cost of being a liberal means. And neither do the so-called conservatives know what it means to provide social welfare. Conservative fiscal responsibility comes first and foremost, then comes liberalizing social welfare needs.

    Vote Libertarian.

  11. Julie R: If you want to talk about waste, let’s talk about the billions being sunk into projects that disrupt traffic for years on end to add a single lane of freeway, or that bring LRT lines to some of the least densely populated cities this side of the San Gabriels. Compared to those projects, the money Metro gives out for bike infrastructure is a rounding error.

  12. Steven P: I wasn’t offering an assesment of how effective Metro is at carrying out its mission, and it’s dishonest of you to represent my comment as such. The point is that Metro’s responsibilities extend to all aspects of managing and reducing congestion and helping people get where they’re going. Bikes are one piece of that puzzle, and are thus an appropriate subject for Metro to be involved in. I personally wouldn’t be able to take Metro to work if I didnt have a safe and comfortable bike route to get the last couple of miles to my office. Or if there wasn’t a way to take my bike with me on the bus or train. Metro definitely has a role to play in making sure people like me are able to make those connections.

  13. The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services released a report in 2008 on the overall condition of the 6,500 miles of streets in the city.


    In 2008, the Bureau rated the overall condition of the streets at a ‘C’ level and their estimate was that there was a backlog of $1.92 billion in needed repairs. Since it would be very difficult to make this amount of repairs in one year, the report recommended $2.85 billion in maintenance and repairs should be made over a ten year period of time to bring the roads up to a overall average ‘B’ level. Taxing cyclists would not even make a noticeable dent in the amount of money needed to make these repairs.

    So what about all those taxes on gasoline, where does that money go? There is a federal 18.4 cent tax per gallon tax that has remained this rate since it went into effect in 1993, even though the retail price of gasoline has almost quadrupled since then.

    This Los Angeles Times article explains where most of the other 48.6 cents in gasoline tax goes:


    Who is paying for the bike lanes that have been put in Los Angeles in the last year? That comes from 15% set-aside that each city in the county receives from the local Measure R sales tax money. The city of Los Angeles decided that 5% of that should be applied towards creating cycling infrastructure and 5% should be for pedestrian safety improvements.

    There are 2,600 miles center-line miles of non-residential streets in Los Angeles and only about 220 miles of them have bicycle lanes. The average cost for installing 50 miles of bike lanes in the last year was about $52,000 per mile. Most of these were put in without removing any space from motorists. So, in other words putting in bike lanes is encouraging people to get out of their cars and ride a bike outside of the travel lane for motorists. This frees up space for cars and trucks. If 5-10% of motorists switch to cycling, then this will have a impact on reducing the congestion level. I’d say that the low cost of bicycling lanes is a bargain for decreasing the congestion.

    There should also be consideration of how people will get to transit. The obvious answer would be to walk, but that is only feasible for most people if the distance is 1/4 of a mile or less. Waiting for a bus is frequently slower and less convenient than using a bike. Which means that a bicycle could bring a significant amount of the passengers to a major transit hub. Creating a low-stress cycling network could boost the transit use, reduce the congestion by making it easier for children to bike to school, which would both reduce the need for school buses and having to get a ride from their parents. Again, freeing up space on the roads for vehicles while also reducing the amount of money spent on school busing.

  14. @Just a person

    Yeah, different pots, still the same source: our tax money. Where do Metro’s and City BoSS; source of money come from? They’re separate agencies, but if you trace the source, it’s the same tax dollars.

    That’s like saying Arco versus Shell, different company therefore different pots so it don’t matter. The source, same: it comes from Saudi Arabia.

    Let’s say we pay $1 billion in taxes overall through whatever means (sales taxes, property taxes, etc.) and that goes into the City’s revenue.

    Someone has to decide how to split that $1 billion in tax revenue to different pots. Let’s say LACMTA, Street Services, LAUSD, LAPD and LAFD to keep it simple. Someone has to make this decision. Magic don’t happen where a fractional cents of taxes that I just paid for my burrito at Taco Bell automatically goes to education. Someone has to allocate the total tax revenue.

    So how do you split the billion?

    We can’t cut education so let’s focus 40% of it there. We can’t cut police and firefighters so let’s give them 20% each.

    Ok, that leaves 20% to either LACMTA or Street Services.
    Which is more important public transit or street repair? Who should get how much?

    You want to say street repair is more important, then it’s going to be 5% Metro:15% Street Services.

    If you want to say public transit is more important, then it’s going to be 15% Metro:5% Street Services.

    Different pots, same tax source. Know how your taxes work.

  15. @Steven P,

    City BoSS and Metro are entirely different and different funding pots. Therefore, your arguement about the time to repair is flat wrong.

    From my personal experience LA’s street crews (and those of other citys) are quite responsive. If it is really bad, call the Council Member for the area. It will be fixed within hours.

  16. “…will remove cars and buses from the roads improving traffic. ”

    Doubt it. If anything, more people will inevitably just move from an all gas vehicle to an all-electric vehicle like the Nissan Leaf and hybrid vehicles like the Prius, and from bicycles to motorcycles and scooters.

    We’ll what happens in ten years.

  17. Great story, Jung. As a auto-to-train commuter and weekend (off-road) bicyclist, I appreciate that one or two nuggets of information you provide on your daily ride in to work. I recently reported a pothole on one of my streets in LA County and I thought sharing that information was an AWESOME tip for the general public, not to mention how dangerous they can be to bicyclists. We only tend to think of potholes in relation to our cars.

    I did want to respond to the comments by the gentleman who connected Metro’s bus service to the pothole program.

    Critics tend to lump ANY/ALL government agency into one monolithic entity which is totally incorrect. The city and county of Los Angeles, NOT Metro take care of potholes so I don’t see the connection or need to criticize Metro (or a contributor to the Source) for talking about a service Metro isn’t responsible for. It is sort of like criticizing your dog for not eating the cat food – they are both animals but are ‘nourished’ differently.

    What’s next, taxing pedestrians for walking on the sidewalk?

    Riding a bike improves Los Angeles’ terrible air quality (my son has developed allergies simply by growing up in this region), promotes a healthy lifestyle, will remove cars and buses from the roads improving traffic. A lot of the folks riding bikes own homes and already pay taxes to entities to take care of this County or City service.

    The great thing about this forum, The Source, allows anyone with an opinion to weigh in and the community of readers can fill in the information gaps with facts and debate the merits of a topic.

  18. “To report potholes in the City of LA, you can also call: 1-(800)-996-CITY or (213) 847-3200 or e-mail bss.boss _AT_ lacity.org.
    For things like street lighting that is out, graffiti, signals with blown out lamps, etc. call (213) 473-3231 or 311 from a landline within the City.”

    And they’ll come around and fix it in 10 years because all the taxpayer funds are being directed to Metro projects leaving very little for Street Services. LOL

  19. “Metro…is well-planned and works efficiently.”

    Best bad joke of the day to start the morning.

  20. To report potholes in the City of LA, you can also call: 1-(800)-996-CITY or (213) 847-3200 or e-mail bss.boss _AT_ lacity.org.
    For things like street lighting that is out, graffiti, signals with blown out lamps, etc. call (213) 473-3231 or 311 from a landline within the City.

  21. if it’s the same Metro who despite LA being the 2nd largest city in the US, still has no direct rail to the airport, and an agenvy who actually believed it was fine under the honod system for over two decades, yes have faith that Metro knows what they are doing with our tax dollars.


  22. Those people on the trains are a nuisance to other bikers. They need to be banned.

  23. Jung Gatoona,

    Um no. Metro has no say in fixing pot holes which is the point of this article. Fixing pot holes goes under the jurisdiction of Bureau of Street Services which is an authority under the Department of Public Works.

    As you can see from the website it has that just screams welcome to 1990s, it doesn’t have much funding.

    Comparing pot hole repairs that go under LADPW and the Wilshire Bus Project that go to Metro are two different agencies doing two different things. Simply put, they’re both government agencies fighting each other for the taxpayer pie.

    You want better public transit, you’re getting pot holes. You want pot holes fixed, you’re getting worse public transit. It’s simple as that with limited tax funds.

    Of course if Metro could go out and start actually making profit (i.e. sell the darn agency to a Japanese private transit firm) so LA can relieve their shoulders from being a government funded agency, then we can reallocate all those funds to fixing our roads.

  24. “It also holds the purse strings on a lot of transportation grant money that gets handed down from the feds and the state for a variety of purposes….”

    Basically then, lipstick on a pig aside, it’s a monopoly for a captive market that gets to decide how to use the funds without much oversight, courtesy of wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

    If I had my way as a taxpayer oversight, I’d cut off funding for the bike program and use those funds to be redirected to fixing the potholes and fixing some of the serious issues we’ve been having lately with our light rail lines these days.

  25. Those bikes on the trains are a nuisance to other riders. They need to be banned.

  26. “Metro’s job is to provide public transit service, not butt their noses into bicycling needs.”

    Metro isn’t just a public transit provider. It’s a state-chartered Regional Transportation Planning Agency that’s responsible for ensuring that LA County’s entire transportation system — highways, rail, buses, bikes, etc. — is well-planned and works efficiently. It also holds the purse strings on a lot of transportation grant money that gets handed down from the feds and the state for a variety of purposes, one of which is to build infrastructure that makes it easier and safer to get around by bike or on foot. And Metro is responsible for doing outreach that lets people know about transportation options — bikes included — and helps them figure out how to leave the car at home. So yes, bikes are very much a part of Metro’s job.

  27. Steven P: I don’t think SH was advocating for charging road user fees based on the weight of the vehicle — just dispelling the notion that bicyclists are somehow freeloaders leeching off of everyone else’s contributions. In reality, when all of the costs and benefits — both individual and societal — are considered, private automobiles are MUCH more heavily subsidized than bikes as a mode of transportation. Which is a shame, because getting to where you’re going (and either making or spending money once you’re there) without starting up an internal combustion engine, or taking up a parking space, or wearing out the roadway, is a socially beneficial activity that ought to be encouraged.

    Frank M: Riding a bike and riding Metro aren’t mutually exclusive. Many people will do one or the other for different trips depending on where they’re going and what they’re doing. Or even use both modes on the same trip, if Metro doesn’t quite reach their destination (this is the case with my work commute). Have you never noticed someone putting their bike on the front of the bus, or taking it on a Metro Rail train?

  28. “As a large agency, they even have a bike department that promotes active cycling throughout Los Angeles.”

    And this costs taxpayers of LA how much per year? Metro’s job is to provide public transit service, not butt their noses into bicycling needs.

  29. @Frank M:

    “What is Metro doing wrong where people have to resort to bicycles on dangerously pot hole ridden streets…”

    Metro isn’t all about buses and trains. As a large agency, they even have a bike department that promotes active cycling throughout Los Angeles. So to answer your questions, they’re doing a fantastic job! Go Metro!

    Plus, with the increasing number of obese Americans, cycling in addition to taking public transportation is good for everyone! You really can’t get exercise sitting on a bus or train. It’s all about increasing commuting options for everyone, not just limiting it to driving and public transit.

  30. “Autos and trucks weigh vastly more than the average bike and rider and, therefore, do the most damage to the roads.”

    So do Metro Buses. Buses are also heavy and they also contribute their fair share of corroding our streets with potholes.

    Should we then levy a street repair tax for every bus rider? Should Metro pay some funds to pothole repair to the City of LA as well?

    Where is Metro’s contribution to fixing our streets? They run fleets of buses that do as much damage to our roads as cars and big rigs.

  31. I live in Lakewood where we keep our streets in good shape. We don’t allow our streets to looke like those of Los Angeles or Long Beach. Planning and saving for a rainy day. Also, we pay into Measure R and receive nothing in return.

  32. There’s a traffic calming dimension–Wavy Gravy reminds us that a pothole is a reverse speed bump!

  33. Aww, the truth hurts when the tables are turned when an idea pops up for bicyclists to be taxed. How convenient! Now you know how others feel when they become nickel and dimed with taxes for every minute thing and all it does is have the opposite effect of making things better for society.

    Metro needs to stop butting their noses into fixing pot holes for bicyclists and instead figure out a solution why they can’t convince more bicyclists to take Metro more to increase their fare box revenue so that bicyclists don’t have to resort to riding their bikes on dangerous pothole ridden streets.

    Gee, maybe it has to do with their stupid flat rate policy where bicyclists would rather risk riding their bikes on pot hole ridden streets and sharing them with cars and trucks than being ripped off a $1.50 for a short ride?

    What is Metro doing wrong where people have to resort to bicycles on dangerously pot hole ridden streets instead of taking Metro? Has that thought ever occurred to Metro, or is it yet another “keep it on the dust shelf and let Angelinos fifty years from now figure it out” play?

    Mr. Hymon, since you are a bicyclist, let’s hear it from you. There has to be a reason why you choose a bicycle to get somewhere despite there’s a Metro route. Why do you not contribute to your own agency that you write articles for in helping out Metro’s low farebox recovery ratios and instead opt to ride a bicycle for your transit needs? Where do you ride a bicycle and how do you ride it? How many miles? Does Metro not serve that route? Why don’t you ride Metro for that route instead of taking the bicycle?

    Or, if Metro is REALLY pro-bicyclist for their safety sake, Metro’s can surely grant themselves to cut their own budget by a $1 billion and reallocate that to LADPW pothole repair services fund so that they can repair our streets for bicyclists sake. Funny how that’s not an option; they wants their taxes all to themselves. LOL.

    Typical government, always trying to shift their blame to others when the problem lies within.

  34. The problem with getting potholes repaired it that the fixes are often as bad or worse as the hole itself. Too often city workers make no attempt to level the road after dumping a heaping pile of steaming asphalt into the hole. The result is bumpy road surface that creates a jarring ride at best, if not a life-threatening road hazard that riders are forced to dangerously swerve around to avoid losing control of their bikes — if they see it at all.

    It is a very simple matter for road crews to level the surface after making a repair. And they should be required to do so when making fixes in any areas where cyclists can reasonably be expected to ride.

  35. Awesome post. I’ve so much to submit!

    Also Y. Fukuzawa: I pay my share as a home owner through property tax. In fact, most car owners pay way less than “their share” of the damage they cause to streets. How much damage does 175lbs of me and bike cause compared to cars that are a whole order of magnitude more? Arg. This gas tax argument always makes me angry. Came up in Neighborhood Council a few months back. Still angry.

  36. To Y Fukuzawa:

    Actually you are very wrong. Most local roads have a lot of money paid for by local sales tax from the general fund. Interstate Highways are a different matter but they generally don’t allow bicycles anyway. Cars/Trucks do more damage to the roads then is paid for by gas tax and registration. I own a car, pay registration, and gas tax. I also ride my bike 90% of the time and pay my local sales tax when I buy things. So I pay those taxes to maintain the roads, and more and since I ride my bike 90% of the time I put less damage on the roads. So if anything, I have extra room to complain about condition of the roads and I agree with the post above. Go look up how much money goes into roads in pretty much any state, and then look at how much money they get from gas tax and registration. You’ll quickly learn that those two numbers are not close and we still have major work to do to fix what we have. So you are wrong.

  37. Car drivers, motorcyclists, and scooter riders pay their share for street repairs through the local tax portion of the gas they buy at the pump, but bicyclists don’t put in that much of their contribution to fixing the roads.

    If bicyclists complain about the poor shape of our roads, especially on the maintenance and up keep of their bicycle lanes, they can start paying their fair share of using them just like how they do in Asia.

    For example in Japan, they do this by making bicyclists pay an one-time JPY 500 fee and registering the ownership of the bicycle to the local police agency. Once paid, they give you a small tamper-proof sticker to place on the bicycle frame which is somewhat like this:

    That becomes a de-facto license plate for bicycles. The JPY 500 sticker is essentially a tax that goes into the bicyclists’ share of use of public roads and it also aids officers in investigations when bicycles are stolen.

    Nothing is free in this world. Even bicyclists need to ante up their own dime for their use of public roads.

    • As a cyclist, I disagree that cyclists should have to pay into a pot of money for road repair. Autos and trucks weigh vastly more than the average bike and rider and, therefore, do the most damage to the roads. If the roads were designed to accommodate more cycling, I could say maybe an argument. But it’s pretty clear that at this time the roads have been built and continue to be managed to benefit private vehicles with cyclists shoved to the side — in the few places there is even space for them.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source