Colorado legislators discuss annual fee for larger car registrations

Colorado senators are debating a plan that would charge an extra cost for annual registrations of larger cars, such as SUVs and trucks, to fund local safety infrastructure projects for bicycles and pedestrians.

The Senate Finance Committee is now considering the Vulnerable Road User Protection Enterprise bill.

The payments would be based on the size and weight of the vehicle. During a committee hearing Tuesday, bill cosponsors stated that owners of smaller cars and sedans would likely face no additional taxes, but owners of larger SUVs and trucks could face an additional $5 to $10 per year.

“It then takes that money and puts it into a grant fund that then gets distributed to local governments to build pedestrian and bike infrastructure, general safety infrastructure to reduce traffic violence on our roads,” said June Churchill, who was in favor of the law. He is also known as the “Denver Bike Mayor.”

The fines would only apply to drivers in Colorado’s 12 most populous counties, who would then receive grant money from the scheme. Smaller counties would be able to opt into the program, according to bill cosponsors.

Exemptions will be granted to owners who use their trucks and cars for agricultural or commercial reasons.

During a hearing Tuesday, scores of supporters spoke about their deadly interactions as cyclists and pedestrians on Colorado highways, asking the committee members to move the bill to the full Senate. Because larger vehicles on the road pose a greater risk, they reasoned that the additional cost was reasonable for future investment.

“We are at a time where cars are getting larger, the speeds are getting faster, reckless driving is increasing,” Churchill told the BBC. “And as a result, we see an enormous amount of violence on our roadways affecting everyone.”

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there were 133 pedestrian deaths and 20 bicycling deaths in Colorado in 2023, up 16% and 33% from 2022, respectively. There were 716 traffic fatalities in year.

The Vulnerable Road User Protection Enterprise requires the backing of four Senate Finance Committee members to go to the full Senate. A committee vote is likely next week.

By Caleb Anderson

Caleb, a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling, has dedicated his career to bringing the latest news to the public. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to unbiased reporting, He navigates the dynamic world of journalism, covering a wide range of topics from local events to global issues. Caleb's insightful articles reflect his dedication to keeping readers informed and engaged in the ever-evolving landscape of news.

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