Whose Streets??


“Get off the street! My gas taxes pay for these streets and you don’t belong here!  So get on the sidewalk and get out of  my way!”

Many motorists believe cyclists do not belong on the streets. There should be no bike lanes, and no accommodations for bikes or pedestrians.  They think gas taxes pay for the streets and since pedestrians and cyclists do not consume gas they are freeloaders on the streets.

Many cyclists believe the gas tax myth as well.  So who pays for roads and streets?

Well, that depends which roads and which streets.

At the federal level the transportation department is funded about 60% by gas taxes and related fees.

At the state level about 56% comes from state revenue and 87% of that is from gas taxes and fees. That works out to 48% state revenue from gas taxes and fees – less than half.  (WisDOT 2013 Act 20 Biennial Budget).

At the local street level almost no funds come from gas taxes and fees. The Gazette reported (10/10/14) “The city’s street funding comes from the current tax levy and borrowing, totaling about $2 million per year, Allen said.” (emphasis added).

So who funds streets?  We all do.  Most of us drive and we are paying gas taxes and registration fees anyway. Those gas taxes and fees are ending up at the state and federal level.  And they are paying for major federal and state highway projects like I-90 reconstruction,   Some trickles down to the local level through grants.  State grant funds mandate accommodation of bikes and pedestrians.

Most of the money for local streets is paid by all of us whether we ride or drive or walk or all of the above.

But even if we never drove a car and instead walked, biked or took the bus, we are all paying for the streets- just like everyone else.