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Santa Cruz's 'Oregon Trail Tax' riffs on state's new bike tax to raise money for mountain bike trails

Published September 7, 2017

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (BRAIN) — Santa Cruz Bicycles has responded to Oregon's controversial new bicycle tax with a promotion that promises to deliver thousands of dollars to mountain bike projects across the state.

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The company is dubbing its program "The Oregon Trail Tax." Santa Cruz will match the $15 per bike tax customers pay on every Santa Cruz and Juliana bike sold in the state starting Sept.1 and for the remainder of 2017. Proceeds will be split evenly between three trail advocacy organizations that build trails in the state — the Northwest Trail Alliance, the Central Oregon Trail Alliance, and Team Dirt.

"The whole thing seemed like a bad deal for Oregon cyclists in general and mountain bikers in particular," said Santa Cruz Bicycles' CEO, Joe Graney. "It doesn't look like any of the money collected from the sale of mountain bikes will actually benefit mountain bikers, so we thought we'd try and do something to ease the pain of our northern neighbors."

To promote the program, Santa Cruz is sending Oregon retailers posters, hangtags and social media assets to use in-store and online. The artwork's theme is based on the classic computer game The Oregon Trail, a simulation that pitted would-be pioneers against the Wild West. Dysentery infection was a common cause of death in the game and it played into the program's tagline — "Buy a Santa Cruz, We Kick in $15, Nobody Dies of Dysentery."

The bike tax is part of Oregon's new transportation bill that adds a $15 per bike fee on new bikes with 26-inch or larger wheels that sell for $200 or more. The fees will be funneled into a fund called Connect Oregon that provides matching grants for commuter bicycle infrastructure. That's good news for road cyclists and commuters, but it's doubtful that the money will go toward a mountain bike project.

Santa Cruz will send a kickoff check for $1,000 to each of the trail organizations on Oct. 5, the day retailers start collecting the tax, and then send monthly dividends through the end of the year. Santa Cruz will be working with dealers to account for bikes sold for the duration of the promotion.

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