The Bicycle Coalition of Maine exists to make Maine a better place to bicycle.

We oppose LD1189, a bill proposed by Rep. Ralph Sarty, R-Denmark,to impose a 2 percent surcharge on sales of bicycles and accessories to raise money for wider road shoulders, an idea he promoted in an April 26 Maine Voices column, (“Bicycle tax bill would promote safety on the highways”).

Here’s why we are opposed:

• This bill would generate only about $80,000 per year. Subtract the cost of administering this new tax, and there’s virtually no additional revenue, just additional bureaucracy.

• The surcharge would penalize Maine’s 57 bike shops. Most are Maine-owned independent businesses. They would now have a 7 percent disadvantage to the competition from shops in New Hampshire. Does that make us “Open for Business?”

• The bill’s sponsor cites the need to protect bicyclists from vehicles on rural roads without shoulders. We fully agree. Maine has more than 8,500 miles of state-maintained roads, most of which are rural. The reality is that we cannot afford to have a shoulder on all these roads, as much as we’d like it. This new tax won’t remedy the reality.

We appreciate the intent of Rep. Sarty’s bill. He says it is less about the tax than about raising the safety issue. The Bicycle Coalition was a strong proponent of the law which requires 3 feet to pass a bicyclist. We disagree with Rep. Sarty that the 3 foot passing law increases safety problems. It defines the responsibilities of both bicyclists and motorists in sharing the road.

The Bicycle Coalition has worked since 1992 to create safer cycling conditions in Maine. It partners with the Department of Transportation, Maine schools, police departments and state agencies to educate cyclists and motorists about how to do so.