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Old 08-14-05, 02:09 PM   #1
trick
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Mandatory Bike Registration

My town is looking to require license plates for bikes. I didn't even know registration was mandatory... it had always been presented as a rather optional thing. But now they want visible registration on all bikes.

I'm worried about this. Anyone else had experiences with this sort of thing???
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Old 08-14-05, 02:19 PM   #2
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Well, at a buck for registration the cost certainly isn't prohibitive. I am certainly all for cops stopping cyclists for breaking traffic rules, just as they should be doing for cars, so I have no problems with that either. I do just question the motive, here, and wonder if registration will really have an impact on recovering stolen bikes.

My response to this would be to ask city council and police what they intend to do in terms of bike theft, what the current recovery rate is, what the expected recovery rate is, etc. Do this in a public setting with media present, if possible. If they can't answer the questions, dig for the real motive.
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Old 08-14-05, 02:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
...what they intend to do in terms of bike theft, what the current recovery rate is, what the expected recovery rate is, etc. Do this in a public setting with media present, if possible. If they can't answer the questions, dig for the real motive.
The real motive I'd suspect is money. Another source of funds for the government to ****, pillage, and waste. No other real reason.

I wouldn't accept a license plate on any of my bikes. I'll pay the fines, when/if they even bother to enforce such a law.
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Old 08-14-05, 02:32 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Gus Riley
The real motive I'd suspect is money. Another source of funds for the government to ****, pillage, and waste. No other real reason.
At a $1 per registration?!? Not exactly a cash grab. I would be very surprised if they made a profit on that.
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Old 08-14-05, 02:33 PM   #5
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I tend to believe the motive is financial as well as an attempt to control and identify cyclists who breach the laws. I am in full support of citing cyclists who fail to respect the rules of the road and I even support licensing cyclists. I think it should go one step further with mandatory training in order to acquire the license (like a driver's license). However, before I ever advised my municipality that I am in agreement, I'd want assurances in writing that law-enforcement officers would strictly apply the law as it relates to motorists endangering cyclists and not just cyclists who flagrantly disregard traffic laws.
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Old 08-14-05, 06:01 PM   #6
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Trick--did you see where you can submit a letter to the editor right on that link you provided? Maybe it would help if you did that?
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Old 08-14-05, 07:17 PM   #7
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Trick--did you see where you can submit a letter to the editor right on that link you provided? Maybe it would help if you did that?
Upper right corner of the page, "Voice Your Opinion".

They just want to be able to identify cyclists that run away when the police try to stop them. Some local citizens are probably complaining that they can't report cyclists that run stop signs, or flip them off when they almost run them over. After this passes, they'll be working on mandatory seat belts for cyclists.
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Old 08-14-05, 08:06 PM   #8
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Like Councilwoman Christy Welty quoted in the article I don't think this has anything to do with facilitating the return of stolen goods. Bikes already have serial numbers for that purpose. Home theater equipment, TV, and stereos are commenly stolen. Do the police want those to be "registered" as well?

I think the real purpose of this law is to someday make it so that they can "arrest" the bike. Knowing that probably less than 1 in 10 will bother to comply with such a pointless regulation (if they even know about it) the next time they stop a cyclist who has rolled a stop sign they can:

1) Issue him a ticket AND
2) Oh - I see you don't have the required registration on your bike sir. I'm going have to take that from you. You can claim it down at the station when you have paid all your fines! Have a nice day

The reason they want it visible from the rear is so they know what cyclists to stop for "traffic infractions".

P.S. - if you really wanted to crack down on bike thefts then equip them with lowjack!
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Old 08-14-05, 09:18 PM   #9
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I think Slow Train has hit the nail on the head.
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Old 08-14-05, 09:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
At a $1 per registration?!? Not exactly a cash grab. I would be very surprised if they made a profit on that.
It's for this reason that I'll be extremely surprised if it actually happens.

Just one question, have they thought about cyclo-tourists from other places that don't have registration (i.e. the rest of the world). Is someone supposed to buy a plate just for a one day stopover?
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Old 08-14-05, 09:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Riley
The real motive I'd suspect is money. Another source of funds for the government to ****, pillage, and waste. No other real reason.

I wouldn't accept a license plate on any of my bikes. I'll pay the fines, when/if they even bother to enforce such a law.

No, the real motive of laws like these are to gather as much information about the citizenry, catalouge them, and control them. Part of the fun of riding a bike is the anonnimity--being able to just take your bike and ride it wherever without having to answer to anyone. I don;t think its anyone else's business, especially the government, what type of bike I ride.

Then again, if all bikes are traffic, as CM posits, and should be treated liek traffic, then liscenses and user fees make perfect sense.
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Old 08-14-05, 10:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by patc
At a $1 per registration?!? Not exactly a cash grab. I would be very surprised if they made a profit on that.
A buck per bike can add up pretty fast. My little town of 1400 probably has 300 bicyles in it when you count all of them...kids bikes included. Now think about a city with 1/2 million people...theres a bunch of bikes at a dollar apiece. This is practically free revenue that a city has to do very little to collect and with very little to maintain in return. A rip off by our government...then the insurance companies will want a piece of the pie. They'll get their lobbyists involved and we'll all have to purchase liability insurance too. A slippery slope.
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Old 08-15-05, 12:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trick
My town is looking to require license plates for bikes. I didn't even know registration was mandatory... it had always been presented as a rather optional thing. But now they want visible registration on all bikes.

I'm worried about this. Anyone else had experiences with this sort of thing???
You are right to be worried.

The one legitimate justification for bicycle registration is the recovery of stolen bikes. This can be accomplished by voluntary registration and it does not require a license plate.

Some registration programs are done with good intentions but the costs may be greater than the value of the recovered bikes. If high fees are charged, nobody registers their bikes. If there are stiff penalties for non-registration, the effect is simply to discourage bicycling.

Big downsides are the difficulty and cost of enforcement and the potential for a registration program to become a tool for the harassment of cyclists.

Requiring license plates for bikes is silly. It won't work.

Hopefully, the ordinance requiring visible licence plates won't pass. If it does, the city can expect a decrease in registration and/or a decrease in cycling (maybe that's what they want) and, hopefully, an enforcement nightmare.

For what it's worth, the League of American Bicyclists has postion on registration: League Position on Bicycle Registration
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Old 08-15-05, 03:59 AM   #14
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One thing to watch out for is if the city only accepts their own license. In many Ohio towns, cyclists must have local licenses to ride. If the laws were actually enforced (which, thankfully, they are not), you'd have to have a license displayed for every town you ride through. Imagine what the bike of a touring bike would look like.

Cities would never require this of cars.
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Old 08-15-05, 03:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Riley
A buck per bike can add up pretty fast. My little town of 1400 probably has 300 bicyles in it when you count all of them...kids bikes included. Now think about a city with 1/2 million people...theres a bunch of bikes at a dollar apiece. This is practically free revenue that a city has to do very little to collect and with very little to maintain in return.
Not necessarily. First of all they need a database of every bike that's registered under the system, which needs to be set up and maintained. Then the law regarding the charge needs to be enforced, otherwise nobody pays. Then there are the people who decide not to pay for whatever reason (even those who might stop riding).

You know, this sort of system has been looked into a number of times previously (here in Australia at least three states have investigated it), and it's always been dismissed as being unviable economically, for the reasons I describe above. This is why I don't expect it to survive -- even if it does come in short term.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:47 AM   #16
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Registration laws can be used for the recovery of stolen bicycles but, as I said before, that doesn't require a mandatory law and it doesn't require a visible license (a small sticker is all that's needed). To be an effective program, the fee charged must be small (registration actually is free in some places).

But bicycle registration is a bureaucratic nightmare.

And it can be used as a tool of harassment.

The City of St. Louis has had a bicycle registration ordinance for many years. Everybody, including the city, ignored it. I've ridden for decades in the 'city' without a license and never even thought about it.

Well, a few years ago there was a convention in the city and there was a protest group whose main form of transportation was bicycles. The police suddenly conveniently discovered the old registration law (totally ignored but still on the books) and used the law to arrest the protesters and confiscate their bikes.

Whatever the intent the law, that kind of selective enforcement is often a main use of such laws.

I still ride almost daily in the city without a license (actually, I've never met anybody who had a license). I'm not too worried about the registration law as long as I don't try to exercise my right to free speech.

As far as I know, the law is still on the books.

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Old 08-15-05, 08:13 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
First of all they need a database of every bike that's registered under the system, which needs to be set up and maintained.
In this new world of computers, a database is not difficult to set up or maintain. In fact, if I were tasked to do so I would seriously look at the existing programs used for autos to also be utilized for bicycles...meaning no new software and no additional persons inputing information.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
Then the law regarding the charge needs to be enforced, otherwise nobody pays. Then there are the people who decide not to pay for whatever reason (even those who might stop riding)
See my first post.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
You know, this sort of system has been looked into a number of times previously (here in Australia at least three states have investigated it), and it's always been dismissed as being unviable economically, for the reasons I describe above. This is why I don't expect it to survive -- even if it does come in short term.
Same here, but we never learn from history, even our own.
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Old 08-15-05, 08:22 AM   #18
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The hidden agenda is cyclist ticketing/harassment that drives mandatory bike liscensing, regardless of how it is presented to the public.

That being said, can I get custom plates?
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Old 08-15-05, 08:56 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Train
P.S. - if you really wanted to crack down on bike thefts then equip them with lowjack!
This would be too sensible, lowjacks required for any bike worth more than $100.

Speaking of lowjack. Is anyone away of any bicycle lowjack type system?
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Old 08-15-05, 09:34 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by JRA
Whatever the intent the law, that kind of selective enforcement is often a main use of such laws.
Yup. You will probably not see much enforcement until some homeless looking guy rides by on a bike and offends the sensibilities of some nag gardening.
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Old 08-15-05, 10:41 AM   #21
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This would be too sensible, lowjacks required for any bike worth more than $100.

Speaking of lowjack. Is anyone away of any bicycle lowjack type system?
What is a "lowjack"?
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Old 08-15-05, 11:12 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Riley
In this new world of computers, a database is not difficult to set up or maintain. In fact, if I were tasked to do so I would seriously look at the existing programs used for autos to also be utilized for bicycles...meaning no new software and no additional persons inputing information.
No! No! No! In my State, as soon as you get a driver's license or buy a car, they put you in their jury pool selection database -- and you can't get out. You start getting notices like clockwork. I've been spending nearly two decades trying to figure out what the smallest crime is that I can commit so I never have to get notified again ...
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Old 08-15-05, 11:20 AM   #23
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Only a buck. Thin end of the wedge. Soon it will be "discovered" that the bike registry system is in the red. Fees simply aren't paying to keep the program going. Civic leaders announce a new, better bike registry system, with BikeSecureŠ. Fees will be raised to $25.00 to offset the costs. Now, of course, since everyone has signed up, they know where to send the invoices.
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Old 08-15-05, 12:40 PM   #24
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Only a buck. Thin end of the wedge. Soon it will be "discovered" that the bike registry system is in the red. Fees simply aren't paying to keep the program going. Civic leaders announce a new, better bike registry system, with BikeSecureŠ. Fees will be raised to $25.00 to offset the costs. Now, of course, since everyone has signed up, they know where to send the invoices.
Bingo.

Hard part's getting people to accept the idea of paying the local gov't to own a bike.

After that, fees are easy to ratchet up. "It's only $1" so easily becomes "it's only $5."
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Old 08-15-05, 01:20 PM   #25
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Has your city just recently installed red light enforcement cameras? If so, I'm going to guess that the bike registration idea was no coincident, and that it was really instigated by the contractor processing the stop light traffic tickets.
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