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Old 12-02-09, 01:22 PM   #1
AltheCyclist
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Pros/cons of bike registration

I read the posts about possible bike registration in Philadelphia - my first thought was "Wow, if I lived in Philly, I'd move ASAP". But, being the objective soul that I am, I tried to think of some real pros/cons to bicycle registration. So far:

Cons:
A tax on bicyclists (especially on underage riders - discourages cycling)
Unnecessary bureaucracy
Very little added safety
Red herring for city/state to increase revenue, not benefit cyclists

Pros:
Better chance of getting your bike back if stolen
The fees could be used on bike lanes, etc. (like car registration fees are often used for road maintenance)


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Old 12-02-09, 01:30 PM   #2
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Read http://www.toronto.ca/budget2005/pdf...censingcyc.PDF for a thorough debunking of the idea.
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Old 12-02-09, 01:56 PM   #3
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The Town of Cary, NC has free bike registration for the purpose of theft recovery. They record the bike description and serial number on the frame in addition to owner information. There is no sticker or plate. All of my bikes are registered with them. Advantage: If my bike is stolen and recovered within town, I may get it back. Disadvantage: Limited to within town.

The National Bike Registry http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/ is a fee-based nationwide service. $10 per bike for 10 years, $25 for 30 years, or $25 for five bikes for 10 years. A sticker is provided. One of my kids' bikes was registered by the bike shop upon sale this way. Advantage: better chance of getting it back if recovered out of town. Disadvantage: cost.
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Old 12-02-09, 02:28 PM   #4
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The Town of Cary, NC has free bike registration for the purpose of theft recovery. They record the bike description and serial number on the frame in addition to owner information. There is no sticker or plate. All of my bikes are registered with them. Advantage: If my bike is stolen and recovered within town, I may get it back. Disadvantage: Limited to within town.

The National Bike Registry http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/ is a fee-based nationwide service. $10 per bike for 10 years, $25 for 30 years, or $25 for five bikes for 10 years. A sticker is provided. One of my kids' bikes was registered by the bike shop upon sale this way. Advantage: better chance of getting it back if recovered out of town. Disadvantage: cost.
Here in St. Pete we also have a free bike registration (and I think that it's voluntary) we are issued a sticker to affix to our bike. As with Cary, NC I think it is more about recovery in case of theft rather then any kind of control program.

When I bought my bike from my LBS they were offering that 10yr registration with the National Bike Registry as part of their Platinum package. I think that with the gold (basic offered free of charge with every bike) that it was registered with the National Bike Registry for only a couple of years.
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Old 12-02-09, 02:47 PM   #5
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Cary's registration is also voluntary. Ironically, the Cary PD isn't listed as an active participant on the NBR web site.

Cary's registration program was started by a local officer who is a cyclist and was inspired when she reunited an owner with a recovered stolen bike.
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Old 12-02-09, 02:58 PM   #6
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Whatever the benefits and problems, registration should certainly be free. The costs should be subsidized by motor vehicles, since government should encourage cycling.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why government has not already forced upon us the requirement of a license to ride on the public roadway. This is the kind of thing government loves, to impose its will, to control and all under the rubric of safety. There certainly is a good argument to be made that riding on the street is something that should only be allowed when one has shown some knowledge of the rules of road and demonstrated some competence.
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Old 12-02-09, 03:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by atbman View Post
Read http://www.toronto.ca/budget2005/pdf...censingcyc.PDF for a thorough debunking of the idea.

And yet every friggen time the word "bicycle" appears in the news here (even in a "cyclist gets run over by a drunk driver" story) there is rash of inane letters to the editor that start "ITS TIME FOR BIKES TO BE LICENSED AND REGISTERED."

No, it's not time for that, angry citizens. it's time for you to gain a passing understanding of the subject before you write anything further. That's what it's time for.
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Old 12-02-09, 03:55 PM   #8
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Honolulu has a mandatory bike registration.

Used to cost $8 every 2 years, but since no one reregistered, they changed it to $15 for the bike life. The late fee for registration after a sale is an extra $20.

The city forces LBS to collect the money and send in the registration forms.

I have not heard of anyone getting their stolen bike back as a result of the registration.

The money is suppose to go to bike only things "the City Bike Fund". It does provide some of the funding for the Hawaii Bicycle League BikeEd Program. But much of the BikeEd funding still comes from donations, HBL membership dues and bicycle events.

Many years ago, a few million dollars (I seem to remember either 2 or 5 million) went missing from "the City Bike Fund". That missing money was never returned to the "Bike Fund".

The Honolulu Police Bike Patrol has set up "bike road blocks" for the express purpose of confiscating unregistered bikes.

In 2006, a military spouse, who cycled to work, got hit by a car. Her bicycle was damaged and she wanted a police report. She had problems getting Honolulu Police to respond to what they considered an insignificant accident. Since she was fairly new to the island and brought her bike from out of state, she was unaware of the bike registration (note - no other county in Hawaii registers bikes). The police finally show up and rather than simply telling the woman she needed to register her bike, the police confiscated it. No ticket was given to the motorist which caused the collision. GOOD JOB HONOLULU POLICE, WAY TO MISTREAT OUR MILITARY FAMILIES AND CYCLIST.

I bought a hand built recumbent from Eugene, OR. It did not have a serial number stamped on it and none was required by law. When I tried to register it, the Honolulu City clerk insisted that the OR builder had to comply with Honolulu law and he refused to register the bike. After much discussion, the clerk finally admitted that an OR builder did not have to follow Honolulu laws, but he still refused to register the bike. I finally DEMANDED that the clerk give me a signed letter acknowledging that he refused to register the bike. Finally the clerk decided to get on the phone and then came back and said he would register the bike (as opposed to writing the letter), BUT HE INSISTED THAT I HAD TO PUT SOMETHING IN THE SERIAL NUMBER BLANK ON THE FORM. The bike was built by HPM (Human Powered Machines), so I just wrote HPM down as the serial number.

The times I have called the police for a collision or for being run off the road, the first thing they were interested in, was if the bike was registered (even though they had my ID card in hand).

Other than BikeEd, little to none of the money has gone to projects that have actually provided safe cycling facilities.

Hopefully, the big yellow decal on my bike will at least get a bike thief to steal the bike next to mine, rather than mine.
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Old 12-02-09, 04:18 PM   #9
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The theory behind the idea of bike registration as a theft preventative escapes me. It isn't as if bike had plates or decals large enough to read, that would allow Law Enforcement to pull a cyclist over who was not sporting the tag, or to run a check on a stolen bike. Simply knowing your serial # and being able to describe your bike ought to be enough. Registration without more adds little.

Requiring an operator's license to ride on the road makes sense, from government's POV, but I'm not endorsing the idea.

IF there was a way to ID a bike from a distance without destroying the bike's aesthetics or causing an aerodynamic disruption, it might be a good idea from a theft prevention perspective, but somehow, I don't envision cops stopping many bikes for failure to have the proper license displayed. ... and why give them one more opportunity to keep us from going about our business?

Seems to be the unregistered bicycle, along with cash in the pocket, is one of the last areas of freedom we have outside the home.
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Old 12-02-09, 04:19 PM   #10
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Honolulu has a mandatory bike registration. ...
The Honolulu Police Bike Patrol has set up "bike road blocks" for the express purpose of confiscating unregistered bikes..
Sounds very Gestapo. Why is Honolulu not cool with cyclists? I'd move to the mainland!
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Old 12-02-09, 04:33 PM   #11
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The theory behind the idea of bike registration as a theft preventative escapes me. .
Yeah, the thought is that there is some deterrent. I.e. Why do thieves steal bikes? Because they can get away with it. If a potential bike thief knows that the bike he's going to steal will be hard to resell (because it's registered) and he risks getting busted if he rides it. Not that this logic would apply to the average thief (noted number of people doing time for grand-theft-auto).
Also, registration means that the cops have to enter a recovered stolen bike into system. If cops don't enter serial nos. in detail, you could report it stolen and potentially never get it back.
I.e. You, "my bike is stolen, it's a red Trek, serial no. xzy"
Police response, "Yeah, we get a lot of those"
This hasn't happened to me, but wondering if it could? Any cops in here that work receiving stolen property?
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Old 12-02-09, 04:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
Honolulu has a mandatory bike registration.

Used to cost $8 every 2 years, but since no one reregistered, they changed it to $15 for the bike life. The late fee for registration after a sale is an extra $20.

The city forces LBS to collect the money and send in the registration forms.

I have not heard of anyone getting their stolen bike back as a result of the registration.

The money is suppose to go to bike only things "the City Bike Fund". It does provide some of the funding for the Hawaii Bicycle League BikeEd Program. But much of the BikeEd funding still comes from donations, HBL membership dues and bicycle events.

Many years ago, a few million dollars (I seem to remember either 2 or 5 million) went missing from "the City Bike Fund". That missing money was never returned to the "Bike Fund".
Sounds like there needs to be some serious accountability there.

Quote:
The Honolulu Police Bike Patrol has set up "bike road blocks" for the express purpose of confiscating unregistered bikes.
I presume that that applies to out of state/town bikes? Either way it doesn't sound very kosher.

Quote:
In 2006, a military spouse, who cycled to work, got hit by a car. Her bicycle was damaged and she wanted a police report. She had problems getting Honolulu Police to respond to what they considered an insignificant accident. Since she was fairly new to the island and brought her bike from out of state, she was unaware of the bike registration (note - no other county in Hawaii registers bikes). The police finally show up and rather than simply telling the woman she needed to register her bike, the police confiscated it. No ticket was given to the motorist which caused the collision. GOOD JOB HONOLULU POLICE, WAY TO MISTREAT OUR MILITARY FAMILIES AND CYCLIST.
Please tell me that the JAG from her husbands Post got involved in the case, and that she got her bike back. I presume that the Honolulu police is aware that Active Duty Military aren't required to register their vehicles when they PCS, and they are given automatic extensions on certain items related to the licensing, registration, etc. of their vehicles.

Quote:
I bought a hand built recumbent from Eugene, OR. It did not have a serial number stamped on it and none was required by law. When I tried to register it, the Honolulu City clerk insisted that the OR builder had to comply with Honolulu law and he refused to register the bike. After much discussion, the clerk finally admitted that an OR builder did not have to follow Honolulu laws, but he still refused to register the bike. I finally DEMANDED that the clerk give me a signed letter acknowledging that he refused to register the bike. Finally the clerk decided to get on the phone and then came back and said he would register the bike (as opposed to writing the letter), BUT HE INSISTED THAT I HAD TO PUT SOMETHING IN THE SERIAL NUMBER BLANK ON THE FORM. The bike was built by HPM (Human Powered Machines), so I just wrote HPM down as the serial number.

The times I have called the police for a collision or for being run off the road, the first thing they were interested in, was if the bike was registered (even though they had my ID card in hand).

Other than BikeEd, little to none of the money has gone to projects that have actually provided safe cycling facilities.

Hopefully, the big yellow decal on my bike will at least get a bike thief to steal the bike next to mine, rather than mine.
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Old 12-02-09, 04:40 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by danarnold View Post
The theory behind the idea of bike registration as a theft preventative escapes me. It isn't as if bike had plates or decals large enough to read, that would allow Law Enforcement to pull a cyclist over who was not sporting the tag, or to run a check on a stolen bike. Simply knowing your serial # and being able to describe your bike ought to be enough. Registration without more adds little.

Requiring an operator's license to ride on the road makes sense, from government's POV, but I'm not endorsing the idea.

IF there was a way to ID a bike from a distance without destroying the bike's aesthetics or causing an aerodynamic disruption, it might be a good idea from a theft prevention perspective, but somehow, I don't envision cops stopping many bikes for failure to have the proper license displayed. ... and why give them one more opportunity to keep us from going about our business?

Seems to be the unregistered bicycle, along with cash in the pocket, is one of the last areas of freedom we have outside the home.
I don't think that it's theft prevention per se but rather returning a stolen bike after the fact.
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Old 12-02-09, 04:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by AltheCyclist View Post
Yeah, the thought is that there is some deterrent. I.e. Why do thieves steal bikes? Because they can get away with it. If a potential bike thief knows that the bike he's going to steal will be hard to resell (because it's registered) and he risks getting busted if he rides it. Not that this logic would apply to the average thief (noted number of people doing time for grand-theft-auto).
Also, registration means that the cops have to enter a recovered stolen bike into system. If cops don't enter serial nos. in detail, you could report it stolen and potentially never get it back.
I.e. You, "my bike is stolen, it's a red Trek, serial no. xzy"
Police response, "Yeah, we get a lot of those"
This hasn't happened to me, but wondering if it could? Any cops in here that work receiving stolen property?
[emphasis applied]
Exactly. The average bike thief is committing a crime of opportunity and he is not thinking about bike registration or selling a complete bike. Coupled with this is the fact that many bikes, particularly higher end bikes, have most of their value in the components, not the frame. With my current favorite it would cost more to replace the Dura-Ace group and wheelset, than what I paid for the complete bike; not to mention the value of pedals, saddle, stem and bars.
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Old 12-02-09, 04:46 PM   #15
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I don't think that it's theft prevention per se but rather returning a stolen bike after the fact.
Agreed. And simply knowing your reg. number and having a bill of sale will serve that purpose. Bike reg. is superfluous.
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Old 12-02-09, 04:58 PM   #16
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I presume that that applies to out of state/town bikes? Either way it doesn't sound very kosher.
We have the "City and County of Honolulu", so all "Honolulu" laws apply to the entire island of Oahu. If you are able to prove that you are a tourist who flew their bike over and have a return flight, you get off without a bike confiscation.

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Please tell me that the JAG from her husbands Post got involved in the case, and that she got her bike back. I presume that the Honolulu police is aware that Active Duty Military aren't required to register their vehicles when they PCS, and they are given automatic extensions on certain items related to the licensing, registration, etc. of their vehicles.
She got her bike back on her own by going down and paying the $15 registration fee and $20 late fee.

The City and State both ignore the Federal Soldier and Sailor Act and other Federal laws. Although it is against federal laws, they require people to either change their registration to Hawaii or get a blue decal each year for the back of the car which also requires an annual safety inspection (defacto Hawaii registration while being able to keep your other state plates). Military members have not taken it to court because they only charge about $10 for the Hawaii plates and then $0.50 each year the annual plate sticker. The other decal probably cost $10 now each year.
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Old 12-02-09, 05:13 PM   #17
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Sounds very Gestapo. Why is Honolulu not cool with cyclists? I'd move to the mainland!
Yea, it was sort of a funny moment when the head of the bike patrol was explaining the program at a group meeting of Hawaii Bicycle League members. He knew that some of the registration fees went to the BikeEd program, so he assumed we would all be in favor of confiscation of unregistered bikes.

The first question he got was "Do you also confiscate unregistered mopeds, since they have the same registration as bicycles?" Answer "no, we give them a ticket".
Second "Do you confiscate motorcycles, cars, and trucks with lapsed registration?" Answer "no, we also ticket them".
Third "Then why do you treat cyclist so unfairly compared to other drivers?" Answer = blank stare.
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Old 12-02-09, 06:04 PM   #18
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We have the "City and County of Honolulu", so all "Honolulu" laws apply to the entire island of Oahu. If you are able to prove that you are a tourist who flew their bike over and have a return flight, you get off without a bike confiscation.
How many tourists actually carry their tickets with them? Especially these days with e-tickets.

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She got her bike back on her own by going down and paying the $15 registration fee and $20 late fee.
That's good, but she shouldn't have had to pay their extortion to get it back.

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The City and State both ignore the Federal Soldier and Sailor Act and other Federal laws. Although it is against federal laws, they require people to either change their registration to Hawaii or get a blue decal each year for the back of the car which also requires an annual safety inspection (defacto Hawaii registration while being able to keep your other state plates). Military members have not taken it to court because they only charge about $10 for the Hawaii plates and then $0.50 each year the annual plate sticker. The other decal probably cost $10 now each year.
I've gotta say that I'm glad that I was never stationed in Hawaii.
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Old 12-02-09, 06:06 PM   #19
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Yea, it was sort of a funny moment when the head of the bike patrol was explaining the program at a group meeting of Hawaii Bicycle League members. He knew that some of the registration fees went to the BikeEd program, so he assumed we would all be in favor of confiscation of unregistered bikes.

The first question he got was "Do you also confiscate unregistered mopeds, since they have the same registration as bicycles?" Answer "no, we give them a ticket".
Second "Do you confiscate motorcycles, cars, and trucks with lapsed registration?" Answer "no, we also ticket them".
Third "Then why do you treat cyclist so unfairly compared to other drivers?" Answer = blank stare.
I'm guessing that they never got a satisfactory answer.
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Old 12-02-09, 07:07 PM   #20
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I read the posts about possible bike registration in Philadelphia - my first thought was "Wow, if I lived in Philly, I'd move ASAP". But, being the objective soul that I am, I tried to think of some real pros/cons to bicycle registration. So far:

Cons:
A tax on bicyclists (especially on underage riders - discourages cycling)
Unnecessary bureaucracy
Very little added safety
Red herring for city/state to increase revenue, not benefit cyclists

Pros:
Better chance of getting your bike back if stolen
The fees could be used on bike lanes, etc. (like car registration fees are often used for road maintenance)


Comments?
One thing that everyone seems to think, including a few folks here, is that when a city, county, state, tinpot dictatorship or banana republic, charges for bike registration, that there is going to be a huge profit from this. This is not always the case.

Registration fees need to be high enough to cover costs, but low enough that it's not worth taking the risk getting caught. For example the City of Moose Nostril decides that if cars pay $100/yr they will charge cyclists the same $100. Compliance will be near zero, because most bicycles on the road are not worth $100, so even if the city confiscates the bicycle, it's less then the registration fee. The lower the registration fee and the easier it is to register or renew, then the more likely people are to register, because it's cheaper then replacing a bicycle.

Setting up a registry from nothing, can easily costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, then you need staff to maintain the registry, those staff are usually members of a public service union and that means your looking at $50K a year minimum per staffer. If there are 2 staff, that's $100K per year in staff costs, you need 20,000 registered bikes, just to cover the cost of staff, not to mention the cost of office space, supplies, postage, and the fact your amortizing the initial cost of setup over a number of years. Now your still going to miss a lot of riders, like the mountain biker who goes to heart attack ridge (next county over ) with the bike on a rack.

It's much cheaper at the state/provincial level where it's added onto the motor vehicle registry, because existing staff can probably take care of it, and the costs to modify the computer software is minimal.
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Old 12-02-09, 07:10 PM   #21
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I know it'll never happen (federal tax income), but it's time to revoke Hawaii's statehood. I know I'LL never visit there, after hearing all the horror stories from this and other 'vehicle' sites.

Just sayin'....
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Old 12-02-09, 07:56 PM   #22
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I've gotta say that I'm glad that I was never stationed in Hawaii.
I was quite happy to be stationed at Schofield Barracks in 1969-1970, especially considering the alternatives at the time.
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Old 12-02-09, 08:36 PM   #23
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The climate, with trade winds that blow the bad air away, does help to make up for the BS stuff.

Schofield Barracks and the other military bases are the only locations on the island with light sensors set to detect bicycles.
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Old 12-02-09, 09:04 PM   #24
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Better chance of getting your bike back if stolen
Unlikely. Probably about the same chance of recovery if the bike is unregistered.

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The fees could be used on bike lanes, etc. (like car registration fees are often used for road maintenance)
Doubtful. Unless the taxing is body is specifically pressed on this issue, any revenues are likely to go to a squeakier wheel. Like subsidizing more car parking, or building a baseball stadium (or perhaps a performing arts center or mosquito breeding ground...err, Canal Walk, sorry). Unless the registration fee is sufficently high, I can't see much in the way of profit from it, however.

I expect there will be lots of such proposals should the number of cyclists increase.
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Old 12-02-09, 09:25 PM   #25
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The climate, with trade winds that blow the bad air away, does help to make up for the BS stuff.
In addition, the year round pleasant temperature, warm water beaches and fine looking women make up for a LOT of BS stuff.
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