Cycling now looks less taxing

A pair of morning radio show hosts on a Bellingham, Wash., station were recently shocked to discover during a call-in from a B.C. listener that the province’s per-litre gasoline prices equated to roughly $6 per U.S. gallon.

And that was before the B.C. government’s carbon tax hike, along with additional regional increases in some areas, struck on April 1. This, of course, amid an ongoing rise in fuel prices exacerbated by pinched supply.

“Their gas could end up as high as $7 a gallon!” exclaimed John Reynolds, who co-hosts KISM 92.9’s Brad and John Show with Brad Cash.

“And we complain when gas is $3 a gallon,” Cash noted dryly.

B.C. motorists unable to slip across the border to gas up in places like, well, Bellingham, may no longer have the option of crying over their beer, either. Federal and provincial tax hikes also put an April Fool’s markup on liquor and tobacco purchases in the province.

So Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns could hardly have picked a better time ride to the rescue — literally — by introducing a petition calling on the federal government to support a national cycling strategy. The NDP MP, who regularly cycles to work at his Ottawa office, introduced the 4,347-signature petition March 29 in support of his member’s bill C-312: Make Canada a Cycling Nation.

Hey, the B.C. NDP is doing its part. As a condition of its pact with the B.C. Green Party to form government following last year’s hotly contested election, the NDP agreed on a series of increases that would raise the carbon tax by 66 per cent over four years.

A truce in the ongoing battle over approval of twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta would provide no immediate relief. Go-ahead of the project would create construction jobs, but the new pipeline is being built to convey bitumen primarily for shipment to far shores, not refined gasoline for B.C. pumps.

Cycling as a viable commuting option works best in tightly condensed, urban areas, so Johns’ proposed national cycling strategy would not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Costs resulting from such a strategy have not been totalled, but would likely include trailway and bridge infrastructure, signage and lane-marking painting, at minimum.

If only there were a growing pool of public money available to tap to make this cycling strategy a reality. Like, say, a gas tax fund?

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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