Colorado Proposes Fee for Heavy Vehicles to Fund Pedestrian and Bike Safety Projects
A new bill in Colorado aims to address the growing concerns surrounding heavy vehicles on the road. The proposed law, known as the “vulnerable road user protection fee,” would require owners of heavy vehicles to pay an additional fee, with the revenue generated being used to fund pedestrian and bike safety projects. While this approach is not new, as several states already base their registration fees on vehicle weight, Colorado would be the first to create a specific fund dedicated to protecting vulnerable road users.
The introduction of this fee is expected to generate around $20 million per year, which may not seem like a significant amount considering the cost of infrastructure projects. However, the fees themselves are not meant to be punitive. Even owners of heavy vehicles, such as the 9,000-lb Hummer EV, would only pay an extra $29.90 per year. Furthermore, the fee would only be charged in the 12 most populous counties, focusing on areas where pedestrian and bicycle accidents are most prevalent.
State Senator Lisa Cutter, the lead sponsor of the bill, emphasizes the data-driven approach behind the proposal. She states, “Data shows us that higher vehicle weights directly correlate with vulnerable road user deaths. It just makes sense to tie funding to that. It’s not about disincentivizing the purchase of [these] vehicles; it’s about recognizing that these are the cars that are disproportionately involved in these fatalities.”
While the fee may not discourage people from buying heavy vehicles, it presents a creative solution for Colorado to raise funding for important safety projects. Importantly, the fee also applies to electric vehicles (EVs), as the aim is to treat all vehicles equally based on their weight and potential impact on vulnerable road users.
Senator Cutter explains, “These fees are not punitive towards people who buy EVs. I mean, 90 percent of the work I do is tied to environmental issues; of course I want people to buy EVs. But it’s also absolutely true that the weight of EVs fits into the equation in terms of vulnerable road user deaths. We didn’t want to say, ‘Well, we like EVs better, so we’re carving them out.’”
By implementing this fee, Colorado hopes to improve safety for vulnerable road users without discriminating against specific vehicle types. The focus is on reducing fatalities and creating a fair system that accounts for the potential risks heavy vehicles pose to pedestrians and cyclists.
For vulnerable road users, this proposed fee brings a sense of relief. While it may not provide solace to their loved ones in the event of an accident, knowing that steps are being taken to mitigate the dangers of heavy vehicles can offer some comfort. Ultimately, the goal is to create safer roads for everyone, regardless of the type of vehicle they choose to drive.
Colorado Law Would Charge Owners for Driving Giant Trucks and SUVs