A bicycle tax?

Wouldn’t that discourage bicycle purchases instead of encouraging them, as we should?

It would, which makes any surcharge on bikes an incalculably bad idea.

Sen. Ron Collins, who represents towns in York County — which has some of the best bike riding in the state — wants to tax retail bike sales and use those funds to contribute to improvement of bikeways. Curiously, the bill specifically says the money would be used to fund construction of public ways used primarily by bicyclists and pedestrians, but there’s no tax proposed for sneakers. Just bikes.

There is no question that having cyclists and motorists share public roads can be problematic, but only when either party behaves badly. If everyone obeys rules of the road, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

But, the idea that we could solve cyclist-motorist conflicts by building bikeways across the state is absurd. The state is just too big.

A 2 percent surtax would raise some money, estimated to be about $80,000 annually under current shopping trends, but you could hardly afford to engineer a bikeway for that, never mind build one.

And, if high-end cyclists turn to the Web or New Hampshire for their purchases to avoid this tax, Maine won’t even realize the currently projected $80,000 and dozens of small bike shops will get dinged in the process.

Instead of taxing bicycle purchases, perhaps the Legislature should be considering a credit since anyone who buys a bike and rides a bike is doing their part to reduce health care costs by taking personal responsibility for their own fitness.

In addition, most commuting cyclists also own cars which they pay taxes on — excise and gasoline — while the cars often sit in driveways, sparing damage to Maine’s roadways.

Cyclists save Maine money and cycling tourists bring money to Maine, so taxing them for doing that just doesn’t make any sense.

The good senator from York, who has connections to the Rotary Club and the Wells Chamber of Commerce, ought to recognize that.

So, how about a bike credit? Maybe one for walkers, too?

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Concert promoter Frank Chandler canceled the second Nateva concert early this month, but has since announced plans for a Nateva junior to be held at the Oxford County Fairgrounds in August. Cheers to him for his commitment to Maine and to music.

This year’s concert — titled Camp Creek — will highlight the returning Max Creek Band, which is coming to Maine as part of its summertime East Coast tour, but there will be many other bands performing during the three-day camping event.

By the time August rolls around, the fairgrounds’ issues with the Department of Environmental Protection ought to be sorted out and concert-goers eager to set up camp. And, perhaps by August 2012, we’ll be welcoming the full Nateva scene and sound back to Oxford.

*

Cheers to the Maine Legislature — House and Senate — for the shared and overwhelming vote to ban bisphenol-A from certain products (like sippy cups).

BPA, as we all know it, is suspected of causing birth defects, among other things, and is found in all kinds of reusable plastics.

Maine is now the ninth state to ban the chemical; it’s already banned in Europe and Canada. A host of companies have already stopped selling products that contain BPA, including Walmart, and beverage distributors, including Poland Spring, have stopped using the chemical in their smaller drinking containers purchased for individual consumption.

The Legislature’s vote is a win for Maine’s Kid Safe Products Act, and a real victory for Maine kids.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.


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