The Transylvania Times -

Respect, Not Taxes, Is The Answer


January 19, 2017

Margaret Williams’ letter in the Jan. 12 Transylvania Times, “Tax The Bicyclists,” opines that roads are meant for cars, and that House Bill 959 requiring motorists to safely pass bicyclists using the adjacent lane is putting motorist lives at risk. She describes coming around a blind curve and there are 8-12 cyclists “right there!” to illustrate the danger to motorists. Williams suggests the “solution” is to tax bicyclists and require them to have insurance just like motor vehicles. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most roads are public rights-of-way and unless prohibited by law, are open to equestrians, bicycles and pedestrians. They have just as much right to be on that road as cars and trucks. They pay taxes just like the rest of us through their cars, property and jobs — even though their riding, running and walking doesn’t do one jot of damage to a road. With the epidemic of obesity in America, anyone going down the road under their own power should be applauded and encouraged, not penalized with taxes.

No amount of insurance is going to protect a pedestrian or bicyclist from the damage caused by a ton or more of motorized steel. As for the example of the 8-12 cyclists, what difference does it make if they were cyclists? What if it was 8-12 deer? Or an RV stopping for a white squirrel? Or a truck pulling into the road? A real solution is building adequate road shoulders to help non-motorized users, but we are all required to drive defensively and according to road conditions such as they are. “Expect the unexpected.”

My Dad used to say, “Common decency should be common practice.” Life is short and precious. Showing a little common decency and courtesy by waiting until it is safe to pass won’t unduly inconvenience anyone on their journey through this world.

Williams concludes her letter by stating she has thought of moving away from North Carolina because of “issues like this.” Why not stay and give a friendly wave, or better yet join them huffing and puffing down the road?

Gil Newbury



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