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Taxing bikers: The wheels begin to spin

A consensus is building in support of our plan to tax the One Percenters of the Commuter Class — the bicyclists who pay nothing

John Kass

August 23, 2012

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Good news, beleaguered taxpayers! A consensus is building in support of our plan to collect revenue from the One Percenters of the Commuter Class — the bicyclists who pay nothing, not even fines when they zoom past stop signs, as politicians smooch their sweaty behinds.

On Wednesday, I responsibly proposed a series of bike fees to help City Hall find much-needed revenue: The Rahm-PASS, the bike boot, bike parking, bike tolls and a bicyclist license.

And now it's time for readers — even those who wear tight-fitting spandex shorts and those little bike cleats — to get their writes.

Before cyclists get taxed, they should start taxing (expletive deleted) writers. … How on earth did you get hired at the Trib? I've seen photos of you, and it probably wouldn't kill you to hop on a bike every now and then. Keep up the awful work. Joshua M.

Dear Josh — I'll make you a deal. I'll get on a bike the moment you pay your bike toll and get a Rahm-PASS. No more free riding for you my friend. It's fee riding from now on, the Chicago Way.

Kass, you narcissistic idiot. ...Your fascist idea will fade, much like your hairline. Wesley T.

Dear Wes — My hairline is fine, thanks.

How long before there are bike parking meters, and which alderman will have ... that contract? Basil R.

Basil — I'd bet they're already thinking about that at City Hall, and whose brother-in-law gets the bike boot contract.

Mr. Kass, I was waiting for an idea for the STUPIDEST IDEA OF THE YEAR (so far) AWARD. You win! Bicyclists in Chicago don't stop for red lights; what makes you think they wouldn't avoid tolls? What makes you think there are not enough fees and taxes in this city? We need more? Joseph S.

Dear Joe — Yes. What's that politicians say? That government can't afford a tax cut? The government always needs more. More, more, more. In your heart, you know I'm right.

John, would you consent to a pictorial of yourself in typical bicycle riding attire? John T.

Dear John — You mean an authentic bicyclist costume, like those worn by bicyclists who step into the office elevator, stinky and smiling, dripping with perspiration, as they perform unwanted Random Sweat Transfer? I'd love to wear a bike outfit. Do you have a pair of new leopard-skin bike shorts (small)? Should I wax my legs?

John, if we are able to see far enough down the road, we will see (bike fees) as a possibility. The city is flat-out broke and looking for other sources of revenue. Issuing tickets for reefer possession is an example of where they will start, not quit, in finding those revenue sources. Bike driver's licenses, tags, stop signs and red lights — tickets for all bicycle violations will eventually be issued by cameras. It may start out cheap, $5 perhaps, but look out, baby! Frank P.

Dear Frank — And wait until they see the animatronic Rahmfathers at the bike tollbooths.

I've been walking to work from the train for seven years. I don't need one hand to count the number of bicyclists that have stopped for a red light at a crosswalk out of the hundreds I've seen. We need to ban bicycles so the streets are safe for pedestrians. Save us, Rahmfather! Paul G.

Dear Paul — We don't want to ban bicycles. We just want to tax the heck out of them, because A) bike riders during rush hour are annoying, and B) they're an untapped revenue source, and our politicians have needs too.

You should move to LA. Your ideas are not needed or wanted in this city. I'm sure we could find enough people to donate to the moving fund. Chadwick J.

Chad — Is this really Mike Madigan, boss of Illinois? I won't ever leave you, Mikey. We're going to be seeing a lot of each other. And I'd never leave Madiganistan for LaLa Land.

It should also be a progressive tax. A high-rise yuppie with a $10,000 graphite fiber bike would obviously pay more since they are in the 1 percenter category. But a guy with a bike recovered from a garage sale would obviously pay much less or even receive money (negative tax) in order to be truly progressive. We must be fair. Rick H.

Dear Rick — I am nothing if not progressive. But we must tax them all, rich and poor bicyclist alike, in part because most of them keep blowing past stop signs without getting tickets.

We blow past stop signs because it sucks to lose all of your momentum and have to start again when you're the sole engine of your conveyance. Especially when you've slowed down to look both ways and nobody is coming. Most of us stop at contested intersections and all stop lights. Jeff Y.

Dear Jeff — You're a bicyclist. So the laws don't apply to you. We already know this. But they will, my friend. They will.

Methinks Rahm will pick this idea up and run with it while blaming you for advocating it. Gerard S.

Dear Gerard — And that's politics.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @john_kass