News Roundup: June 29, 2013

If You Live In New York And You Rent, You're Paying A Huge Tax You Don't Even Know About (Business Insider)
Apartment renters are paying vastly higher property tax rates than single-family home and condo owners in New York City, despite the fact that the former tend to be poorer on average. It's devious and despicable, and looks even worse in light of the near-zero rates paid by many $50+ million condo owners in NYC reported on by the New York Times last year. This graph says it all:

Business Insider, data from New York City Independent Budget Office
Property taxes: An unexploited resource (Economist)
Compared to taxes on income or even consumption, property taxes are less discouraging of economic growth, yet in most countries they represent a relatively small share of government income. In America they represent about 17% of total tax revenues--that's mostly from local governments, which get 70% of their income from property taxes--but in most other developed and emerging economies the numbers are closer to 2-5%. Perhaps this plays some role in the economic success of the U.S.?

Senate Offers a More Multi-Modal 2014 Transportation Budget Than the House (Streetsblog)
File this one under "Least Surprising News Ever," but the United States Senate is doing much more to support active and public transportation than the U.S. House. The latter seems to think that the only economically valuable transportation mode is single-occupancy car travel, and they're doing everything they can to boost it to the exclusion of everything else. Why? Who knows. On the bright side, the distance between the House and Senate proposals might be significant enough that they can't come to any agreement and a continuing resolution at current spending levels happens instead, which wouldn't be so bad. Much better than the current House proposal anyway.

The Law of Traffic Congestion, according to "The Flash!" (Planetizen)
DC has a reboot of The Flash superhero comic series and the first issue features a shockingly professional assessment of induced demand. Here are some actual quotes: "Ever hear of the Law of Congestion? Building more highways doesn't reduce traffic - it does the opposite. It increases the volume of motorists and generates even more traffic," "Maybe we should knock them [highways] down instead," "Right! In Seoul, South Korea they demolished an elevated highway leading to a rejuvenation of the area AND a reduction in traffic..." Swoon.

DC Police Wrongly Presume Injured Cyclist Guilty: “C’mon, You Are a Biker” (Streetsblog)
You read that right, and no, it doesn't seem to be an exaggeration. A bicyclist, Zach, was hit by a car in an intersection and the driver and a witness lied and said he'd run a red light. When Zach disputed these claims the police officer he went to didn't look at the CCTV proof he had that it had been the driver who broke the law. His justification? "We all know how bikers behave. It must have been your fault." Makes you wonder how many other bicyclists (and maybe pedestrians, too) are being wrongly accused and fined when they're the victims of crimes, just because some police offers are too lazy and prejudiced to do their job and look at the facts.