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  1. #1
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    'Pro-Bike' Oregonian Columnist Proposes Bicycle Licensing

    Yeesh....


    To steep, perchance to dream
    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    A funny thing happened on the way to the Oregon Bike Summit . . . I didn't see a soul in spandex. There was this one guy who sat through the entire proceeding with a rearview mirror attached to his beanie, but I sensed he might be more interested in the blonde in the back row than oncoming traffic.

    When more than 150 people from all across the state gathered in Portland last weekend to talk about the state of cycling in Oregon, bow ties outnumbered bike shorts -- one more indication that a signal shift is under way.

    In the halls of political power, bikes long were regarded as little more than toys used by Portland's income-challenged creative class to get back and forth between Pabst and tattoo parlor. That was then. Now is politicians, planners and, yes, developers, looking to bikes to be key components of tomorrow's more energy-efficient economy.

    In metro Portland -- where infill is next to godliness -- more and more people are choosing bicycles as a mode of transportation. Not exclusively. But often.

    About 10 percent of Portland commuters long have regularly used mass transit. About 6 percent currently use bicycles -- and the number is soaring.

    That's why the people at the summit included three wildly divergent public policy heavyweights, each rarely associated with the skinny saddle set:

    Gail Achterman, chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission, is looking to rising bike use to moderate demand on state highways, enhancing freight delivery and easing system overload. This helps explain why her agency just unveiled its latest vehicle license plate option: "Share the Road."

    Metro President David Bragdon keeps telling anyone who will listen that a fully networked, regionwide bike and pedestrian trail system will be an engine of economic development in a next-generation metropolis.

    Tim Wood, state director of Oregon Parks & Recreation, persuaded his agency to think outside the box -- and beyond park fences -- to pioneer America's first network of State Scenic Bikeways to brand Oregon as "The Land Bicycles Dream About."

    Why are so many so steeped in pedal power? Why this sudden synergy? Because it's increasingly clear that bicycles can have a huge impact on everything from urban congestion and energy conservation to air quality and public health. And that -- compared to almost all other projected assaults on these foes -- bicycles are strikingly cost-efficient.

    Now if only someone could figure a way to license both bikes and those who ride them, then we might really move this dream along.

    -- Jonathan Nicholas

    http://www.oregonlive.com/editorials...870.xml&coll=7

    Discussion
    Last edited by randya; 04-10-08 at 11:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    LOL. So close to being a good article.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  3. #3
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    I think it might have been a very misguided attempt at humor (although he was apparently playing off of a comment made at the 'Bike Summit' by the 'liberal' chair of the state Transportation Commission, Gail Achterman)


  4. #4
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    That article is one line too long
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  5. #5
    There's a biking season? yohannrjm's Avatar
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    It looks like that was a very poor attempt at sarcasm.

  6. #6
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like a job for the fashion police.
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  7. #7
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Although I oppose mandatory licensing, I do see the need to improve the average cyclist's general compliance with at least the spirit of traffic law.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
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  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E View Post
    Although I oppose mandatory licensing, I do see the need to improve the average cyclist's general compliance with at least the spirit of traffic law.
    Personally I see a need to improve the average road users general compliance with at least the spirit of the law.

    Since most of us grow up to become said road users, I can see no reason why proper road use is not taught in school along with the 3 Rs.

    Besides Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic; Road use should be part of the regular curriculum.

  9. #9
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Might it be helpful to include written and riding bicycle tests as part of motor vehicle license testing? You would not need a license to ride a bike but would have to have shown at least some vague and momentary awareness of good riding to be licensed to drive a car.
    George
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  10. #10
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    Might it be helpful to include written and riding bicycle tests as part of motor vehicle license testing? You would not need a license to ride a bike but would have to have shown at least some vague and momentary awareness of good riding to be licensed to drive a car.
    + 10000

    I will maintain that it is parents and not schools that have the controlling influence on how kids learn to ride a bike and if we need a way to teach parents (adults) so kids learn to ride safely and attaching this to the current vehicle licensing program makes a lot of sense to me.
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  11. #11
    Artful Dodger
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    Jonathon Nichols was an Oregonian columnist for years. He's a skilled writer. I cant believe that he would put that last line in as a "misguided attempt at humor." As the founder of Cycle Oregon, he knows that there is a broad section of the cycling community that want all the rights of other road users, and none of the perceived obligations (licensing/taxes) that other road users have. He also knows that there is a wider community that views a broad section of the cycling community as scoff laws who pick and choose vehicular laws at their convenience. In his role organizing Cycle Oregon, Nichols is well aware of the sentiments in the community at large toward cyclists. I suspect that he may well have some belief that cyclist licensing would be a good thing for cycling, although a hassle for individual cyclists. And he definitely knew the statement was ambiguous in the context of that article.

  12. #12
    Senior Member slagjumper's Avatar
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    I see some upsides of licensing.

    A bike drivers' license would add more respect to cyclists. Not sure if it would be a significant amount, but it certainly would not reduce respect.

    It might boost the low skill riders' knowledge and therefore help prevent injuries. Of course there are other ways to do that without licensing.

    Money raised from licensing could be used to support cycling on the state level. A bike registration system might be a boon to bike shops and safety if there was a road-worthiness aspect.

    Could use cyclists to help pay for struggling city budgets, by giving tickets for no brakes and expired tags and licenses. This would help create a need for cities to cater to cyclists. There are obvious downsides to this. Cops could do stuff like this now without a license, presumably it is more difficult without registration.

    Could get cool, non-obscene personalized bike plates.

    Might pave the way for a pedestrian and street-jogger license!

  13. #13
    genec genec's Avatar
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    OK, what might be the minimum requirements to earn a cycling license?

  14. #14
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    I think it might have been a very misguided attempt at humor (although he was apparently playing off of a comment made at the 'Bike Summit' by the 'liberal' chair of the state Transportation Commission, Gail Achterman)

    Someone emailed him and Nicholas assured him he was quite serious. Here's what I replied to the Shift list, and I stand by it:

    It's totally a discussion that needs to be had - people need to understand how much more we'd all have to pay in taxes because they wouldn't even be able to break even with the fees they'd collect. New government bureaucracies don't come cheap.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  15. #15
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    I was riding a bike to school on the streets when I was 8. Would he license 8 year olds? As donnamb pointed out, schemes to license cyclists inevitably fail once they meet the details of reality.

    On a policy level, the reason we license motorists is that driving a car or truck poorly creates a risk to others. Motorists slaughter thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people every year. If cyclists start to kill and maim as many people as motorists kill and maim, cyclists should be licensed. Until then, ticket us when we break the law, but otherwise leave us alone.

  16. #16
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daily Commute View Post
    I was riding a bike to school on the streets when I was 8. Would he license 8 year olds? As donnamb pointed out, schemes to license cyclists inevitably fail once they meet the details of reality.

    On a policy level, the reason we license motorists is that driving a car or truck poorly creates a risk to others. Motorists slaughter thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people every year. If cyclists start to kill and maim as many people as motorists kill and maim, cyclists should be licensed. Until then, ticket us when we break the law, but otherwise leave us alone.
    I agree 100% with my colleague from Ohio.

    Hmmn, the moons of Jupiter must have lined up with the rings of Saturn.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by slagjumper View Post
    I see some upsides of licensing.

    A bike drivers' license would add more respect to cyclists. Not sure if it would be a significant amount, but it certainly would not reduce respect.

    It might boost the low skill riders' knowledge and therefore help prevent injuries. Of course there are other ways to do that without licensing.

    Money raised from licensing could be used to support cycling on the state level. A bike registration system might be a boon to bike shops and safety if there was a road-worthiness aspect.

    Could use cyclists to help pay for struggling city budgets, by giving tickets for no brakes and expired tags and licenses. This would help create a need for cities to cater to cyclists. There are obvious downsides to this. Cops could do stuff like this now without a license, presumably it is more difficult without registration.

    Could get cool, non-obscene personalized bike plates.

    Might pave the way for a pedestrian and street-jogger license!

    You have a point that a system of licensing might enhance respect from car drivers, the common run of humanity.

    Nevertheless, I absolutely oppose any system of cycling licenses. A large part of what makes practical cycling so practical is the legal freedom. The thought of having to deal with license renewals, registration payments, and one more opportunity for police harassment (where's your license?) just makes my stomach drop.

    It's worth bearing in mind that ordinary driver's licenses and vehicle registration, the systems we have now for cars, don't have anything to do with traffic safety. Not, at least, in the U.S. No forty year-old driver is any safer because of a road test she took once when she was sixteen. Years of registration payments to the state don't make anyone a better driver. Politically, licenses can't be hard enough to get to make any difference to driving safety, anyway. And, to top it off, many people who can't meet the bare qualifications drive without licenses.

    The real point of the D.M.V. and its licensing system is to make it easier for the police to surveil people in all areas of life. The safety rationale is part of the civic mythology that gets people to accept what would otherwise seem questionable: a practical requirement to keep an official state-issued i.d. on one's person at all times, a requirement to register continually with the police, and a requirement to display a metal placard whenever out in public to help the police identify you. Making people write a check every year for these privileges is part of the scam. That lots of people get employed in make-work government jobs as a result is a nice bonus.

    Rest assured that any money taken from cyclists for their "licenses" or "registrations" would just pay for a few more government employees pushing paper around. We'd have as much cycling advocacy as we now have D.M.V.-produced programs for driver safety.

    Actually, one thing I would fear about many more people cycling for practical purposes--a goal much promoted in these forums-- is that the state would start to become alarmed at the large numbers of people riding around relatively free of surveillance. Then we'd get stuck with these licenses, like them or not.

  18. #18
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    My usual response to this idea is to refer people to:

    http://www.toronto.ca/budget2005/pdf...censingcyc.PDF

    A well-researched, comprehensive debunking of the idea. Cost/benefit ration virtually nil, bureaucracy ridiculous, law-unenforceably absurd. In short, the classic re-invention of the wheel (and a square one at that)

  19. #19
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    nm

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Hmmm, a license to ride a bicycle. If we collect points for each ticket, then what will happen when we reach enough points to lose that license to ride on the roads?
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  21. #21
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dchiefransom View Post
    Hmmm, a license to ride a bicycle. If we collect points for each ticket, then what will happen when we reach enough points to lose that license to ride on the roads?
    You have to drive a car like the other losers.

  22. #22
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    I'm never clear why you should need the state's certification to move about under your own power.

  23. #23
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barba View Post
    I'm never clear why you should need the state's certification to move about under your own power.
    Well said! Really... what a classy way to put that.

    However I believe the question is more along the lines of needing state certification for the shared use of a public facility... that being the streets.

    You need no such "certification," as you so eloquently put it, on paths or certain sidewalks... so it is not the propulsion source, but the use of the space in which this conveyance takes place, that is in question.

  24. #24
    Senior Member gabdy's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem paying for a license and\or rego for a push bike. As long as other road users don't expect me to move out of their way. If I pay for a license and rego, the road belongs to me.

    Besides, the cost to enforce\implement the law would far outway any benefit it provides.

    Imagine critical mass single file.
    Last edited by gabdy; 04-13-08 at 06:27 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    I can send people your way to put an end to it. Bicycle use licensing can be considered racist. How? Most poor people are a minority and some cannot afford transportation other then a bicycle. Make them go to the DMV, pay to take a test and get a license, not to mention making them pay for transportation to the DMV, and you then a nice, ripe civil rights violation.

    Go ask Charleston, SC.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

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