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I haven't seen this brought up for discussion, but I think it could have significant effect on bicycles, it could prohibit spending gasoline tax money on infrastructures to improve bicyclist.  This is the only constitutional amendment that will appear on the ballot in the November election.

Read about the amendment:

The Tribune has taken a stand AGAINST the amendment:

From the state page about the amendment, one of the things it says is "Provides that any additional modes of transportation proposed for State funding shall have dedicated sources of funding."  I'm no lawyer but it sounds to me like that's saying additional funding would need to be provided for alternate (bicycle) forms of transportation.

We take positions on everything else - this may be an issue we need to take a position on.  Opposition should be brought up by the Active Transportation Alliance, and maybe the Mayor's Bicycle Advocacy Council should take a stand against this proposal.

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Ditto.  I am voting no.

I have to disagree with the ATA on this, based on the actual wording of the recently enacted "Dennis's Law" and the Safe Roads Amendment.  Dennis's law gives cyclists the same rights as drivers of vehicles in many respects.  In that, it does represent some progress.  However, Dennis's Law does not specifically define a bicycle as a vehicle under Illinois law.  It provides:

"Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles. Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be
granted all of the rights, including, but not limited to, rights under Article IX of this Chapter, and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Code."

In other words, this statute creates a sort of "separate but equal" status for cyclists, but does not provide that bicycles are vehicles just like any other vehicle.

The Safe Roads Amendment provides:

"No moneys, including bond proceeds, derived from taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes relating to registration, title, or operation or use of vehicles, or related to the use of highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, airports, or to fuels used for
propelling vehicles, or derived from taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes relating to any other transportation infrastructure or transportation operation, shall be expended for purposes other than as provided in subsections (b) and (c).
(b) Transportation funds may be expended for the following:  the costs of administering laws related to vehicles and transportation, including statutory refunds and adjustments...."

I worry about the reference to "vehicles."  This language can be interpreted to not include cycling and bicyclists, because bicycles are still not legally defined as "vehicles" in Illinois, as discussed above.  An argument can be made that the above provision actually bars the use of transportation funds for cycling-related expenditures.

The waters are too muddy for cyclists to support this amendment.  It could conceivably be used against us.  Also, the amendment is trying to use the Illinois Constitution to micro-manage matters that are best left to the legislature.  (Although that's an unappealing prospect, too.)  That is a bad idea, and we're seeing its consequences right now in the paralysis of the legislature regarding working out a solution to the pension fund crisis.  The Active Transportation Alliance, needs to read the actual language of these statutes more carefully.  The devil is in the details.  The ATA and all other cycling supporters need to push for a change to the actual definition of "vehicle" in Illinois that would include bicycles.  That would clear up a lot of ambiguities.       


Kyle Whitehead, Active Transportation Alliance

Tania Sebastian, Ride Illinois

Maybe you should consider having a poll of members, on this proposed amendment to the Illinois constitution.

Make it members only - use your membership card number or name.  Limit the voting to one vote per members and not early-and-often voting.

It might be a little late in the process to do this but it might give you some thought on what your members think on this subject.

I'm surprised you didn't take this into consideration before taking a position.

Good point Bob. It seems like these organizations work toward "improvements" to the cycling environment without much regard for what real cyclists want to see happen. For example, what cyclists ever asked to have cars and trucks passing them from as close as three feet?

It's politically difficult, because:

1) People love cars;

2) The tax can be seen as regressive;

3) Practical alternative transportation does not exist in many places.

Ever with that increase, the New Jersey tax will only be a couple cents a gallon higher than Illinois' is right now. That well is about dry here.

Mike Schwab posted earlier "In the U.S., gasoline taxes have historically collected about 40% of what has been spent on roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.  So that other 60% would be unrestricted and wouldn't have affected the re directions that occurred."

So maybe the proposed amendment should be flipped around: roads, bridges, and tunnels could ONLY be funded from the gasoline tax, and any other tax or income the state had could NOT be diverted to pay for roads, bridges and tunnels.

Why restrict what gas taxes cannot be spent on, when we don't restrict what (for example) sales tax cannot be spent on.

There's still some fine-tuning that would be needed: of course gasoline tax could be spent on bike trails, paths, and protected bike lanes and money from other funds could be used to fund those things as well.

This is the mess you get into when you try to restrict spending based on a constitutionally rigid position.  I'm not sure I'd support this flip-side, either.

But I would find it more attractive.

I agree with you.  When I said that the well is dry, I meant that Illinois already has the twelfth-highest gas tax among the 50 states.  Plus, in Chicago there is an additional 5-cent tax per gallon imposed by the city.  There is already a bill pending in the Illinois legislature calling for a 30-cent a gallon increase, as well as a $50 increase in the car registration fee.  It is encountering pretty overwhelming resistance.  The well is dry in that there is not the political will at this time to enact a New Jersey-sized increase, which would make Illinois' gas tax by far the highest in the country.  Something on a smaller scale might be achievable.  As far as the benefits of a higher gas tax, I'm with you.  Making gas more expensive would boost public transportation and other alternate forms of transportation such as cycling.  But this is America, where the right to drive back and forth from exurbia is almost as cherished as the right to maintain a private arsenal.  

Most jobs aren't actually downtown.  The percent of people that live 40 miles from the loop generally work in the suburbs.

An enlightened tax policy can change the world. I've long thought a minimum price for a gallon of gasoline should be set nationwide. The Feds take their cut and use it, not only for road improvement but for research into greener energy and environmental protection, as well. Now, this tax will be inversely pegged to the free market value of the product. As the price of the commodity goes up, the taxes will be reduced accordingly, and visa versa. Anyone who is onerously affected, lets say for example a self employed Uber driver, can get a tax credit when they file their taxes. This will also give us a buffer from the vagaries of pricing, insulating us to some extent from the forces that dominate the oil trade while providing more economic incentives for alternative energy solutions.

Discussion on this subject tonight, 10/11/16 on Chicago Tonight.

I doubt that this amendment will actually lead to better infrastructure. Once the amendment passes what is the motivation to keep construction costs down? Isn't it simply a profit guarantee to the road construction industry?


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