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Louisville Shouldn't Make Cyclists Pay a Fee, Mayor Greg Fischer Says


Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer does not support a tax or licensing fee on cyclists in the city.In an hour long interview Monday with WFPL, Fischer said city leaders should encourage people to bike more often—not worry about getting revenue from cyclists. Metro Council member Jerry Miller  previously brought up the idea of taxing bicyclists. Miller said cyclists should help cover the cost of bicycle lanes and other infrastructure that benefits bike peddlers .Fischer responded Monday, saying bicycling is "easier on our roads, our bridges, it’s easier on our air."I hope someday we have the problem that we have so many cyclists in our community we going to have to figure out how we are going to control all of this.”In early June,  Miller, a Republican whose district covers the far eastern part of the county, told Wave3 News thathe believes cyclists should be required to pay a licensing fee to help pay for bicycle infrastructure or, at least, “pay more than zero.”Miller could not be reached Tuesday for a follow up to his previous statements.Metro Council Tom Owen denounced the potential for a tax or licensing fee for cyclists.  He said those that are in favor of getting some type of funding from cyclists “don’t understand the demographics” of the majority of cyclists on city streets.Owen said “in reality” many bicycle riders are doing so “without a choice” and imposing a fee to ride a bike would be a “bureaucratic nightmare.”“Besides that, where are you going to put the license plate,” said Owen, a Democrat whose district includes the Highlands area.Andy Murphy, president of the Louisville Bicycle Club, said taxing cyclists is “a bad idea.”“If we are trying to encourage people to bicycle for commuting or health reasons then putting tax on that is not going to help,” he said.Mayor Fischer’s budget for the next fiscal year allocates $300,000 for added bicycle infrastructure.The Metro Council has put a block on those plans, requesting a study be completed to determine the amount of usage new bicycle lanes on Breckenridge and Kentucky streets before moving forward with construction of new lanes.Harold Adams, spokesman for Metro Public Works, said discussions have begun about how to “go about fulfilling the request of the council.”Adams said conducting bicycle traffic counts on those bicycle lanes should be “pretty easy,” but he wasn't sure about the duration of the study.  He also didn't know if other heavily cycled roads will be studied.Fischer said cycling provides multiple benefits to city area, from environmental to economic.“It is super important for us as a city to continue to invest in our cycling lanes," the mayor added.  "Anything we can do to promote biking obviously leads to cleaner air, healthier citizens and it is targeted right in the middle of job creation.”

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.