California bicyclists to benefit from higher vehicle fees?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/2/2014

Truckers and other drivers in California could soon be paying a bit more in vehicle fees to benefit people who like to exercise or travel by bike.

The Senate voted 24-9 to endorse Assembly changes to a bill that would ask voters whether local fees should be collected to benefit bike paths, bike parking and other upgrades.

Specifically, local governments could include questions on local ballots about whether to add as much as $5 to vehicle registration fees during the next decade for building or improving bicycle infrastructure. A two-thirds majority of voters would need to endorse the surcharge for passage.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said his bill gives communities opportunities to improve bikeways and trail networks in an effort to alleviate congestion.

“A study of 35 metropolitan areas in the United States found that for every mile of bike lane per square mile in a city, an additional 1 percent of the commuting workforce traveled by bike,” DeSaulnier said in a news release.

SB1183 now moves to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

A separate bill sent to the governor’s desk would also permit counties to increase vehicle registration fees to set up fingerprint identification programs.

Since 1997, California law has authorized counties to charge $1 surcharges on car registrations while trucks can be charged $2. The revenue is used for fingerprint ID programs.

AB2393 would permit the 45 counties already charging vehicle registration fees for fingerprint ID programs to increase the amount. Specifically, affected counties could charge $2 on car registration fees, up from $1. Trucks would pay $4, up from $2.

The 13 counties not already applying a charge on vehicle registrations could implement the fees.

About $29.8 million a year is raised through the fingerprint fee.

The fees are in addition to the $46 base charge, which includes $1 for programs to encourage the voluntary retirement of vehicles that include high-polluting medium-duty trucks; a $24 surcharge to pay for additional California Highway Patrol officers; and other county fees that may be included.

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