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Old 12-30-04, 03:23 PM   #1
randya
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NYC Bike License Law - Out of Control Politicians

I don't agree with the Sun's opinion of Critical Mass, but I think they're spot on when it comes to the rest of the editorial.

The New York Sun EDITORIAL & OPINION
December 30, 2004

Stop the Bike License Law
By HARRIS SILVER

Because of the way they ride, the way they act, and whom they choose to represent them, bicycle riders currently reside about three notches below cockroaches in the minds of New York City residents. Let's face it: No roach has ever run down a little old lady on a sidewalk.

During the Republican National Convention, when the NYPD arrested thousands of protesters to maintain public order, the largest group arrested was cyclists. And by now you've probably heard about the semi-organized monthly ride to nowhere called Critical Mass, whose sole purpose it seems is to annoy drivers.

Critical Mass has also annoyed just about everyone else who lives in and cares about New York, including Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly. So it's not a surprise that City Council Members Madeline Provenzano and Philip Reed have proposed a law - Introduction 497-2004 - that will deradicalize this dangerous group of residents and restore law and order to our streets, once and for all.

The proposed bill would require all cyclists in the city over the age of 16 to register their bicycles with the Department of Transportation. This legislation would also impose steep penalties for failure to comply, which include substantial fines, seizure of property, and jail.

Mr. Reed has since taken his name off of this bill. However, according to a press release emailed to me by Ms. Provenzano's office, this law is necessary because "Many bicycle riders fail to obey the traffic laws for which they are responsible. At present, it is very difficult for the NYPD to issue summonses for bicycle violations, since many cyclists donot carry proper identification."

This is probably a good time to point out that out-of-control politicians can do a lot more damage to society than out of control bicycle riders. And no politician is more out of control than Ms. Provenzano.

Aside from the larger issues - and they don't get much larger than adding a legal and bureaucratic layer of regulation to a mode of transportation that has gone 136 years since its invention without one - it is extreme and dangerously arrogant to suggest such a radical change in our social fabric without either a consensus or engaging in the necessary public conversation, neither of which Ms. Provenzano has done.

If she had spoken to the police department, as I did, she would have found that the NYPD does not have a problem issuing summonses to cyclists and that this has never been a strategic or tactical concern for the NYPD. In fact, Sergeant Doherty of the NYPD's office of the deputy commissioner for public information refuted the councilwoman's claim that it is very difficult for the NYPD to issue summonses: "Once ID is produced, a summons is issued and they are on their way. "And she also assured me that the "NYPD had procedures in place for dealing with anyone not able to produce identification."

Another person that Ms. Provenzano should have spoken to was someone from the department of transportation because the bill as written places the responsibility of registering bicycles on DOT. Make no mistake about it: This is an agency that doesn't even know what a bicycle is. How else can you explain the lack of a safe, appropriate, riding infrastructure for the more than 3 million bicycles that city residents own? What they call a bike lane the rest of us use as taxi-hailing and double-parking lanes.

When I asked Craig Chin at the DOT press office what planning has been done by DOT for the possibility of having to register millions of bicycles, he said, "I don't know." When I asked if he thought people would have to bring their bikes in to be inspected or would they be able to register via mail, he said, "I don't know." When I asked whose responsibility at DOT this would fall under, he said, "I don't know." And when I asked him if he thought DOT was the appropriate agency to handle the registration of millions of bicycles, he said, "I don't know."

When I called Assistant Deputy Commissioner David Wolloch to discuss Mr. Chin's answers, he didn't return my calls. If Ms. Provenzano had talked to DOT, at least she would have known that this would be the wrong agency to administer the registration of millions of bicycles.

Ms. Provenzano didn't talk to the cyclists either. According to Noah Budnik, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, a group that claims to be a voice for bicycling interests that has little to show for its 20 years of activism on behalf of cyclists," Neither Provenzano or Reed contacted us. This was a surprise to us," he said. "We all have concerns about safe biking." Yet he was unable to articulate why it was so bad to have riders register their bicycles. So I'll do it.

More than 100 years after its invention, bicycles are still the most efficient vehicles on our roads. Think about it. No noise. No pollution. And the ability to travel at more than 20 miles an hour via human power. Yet as a society, we continue to move in the wrong direction and promote automobile use in our city.

It is not unrelated that we are fighting a war against terrorism in a region that contains most of the world's oil reserves. So what do we do? Do we redesign our cities or invest in intercity rail transit or promote cycling or Segways, which get the equivalent of 450 miles per gallon? No. We build Hummers that get 8 mpg. We give businesses tax breaks to purchase them. And then we subsidize oil to the tune of about $1 billion a day, making it easier to drive in our city instead of more difficult.

Then there's the environment. Ironically, with global warming, there are more nice cycling days than ever. But we have made cycling so difficult that only the most idealistic and desperate use a bicycle regularly in our city. Yet as transportation, a bicycle makes more sense than a private motor vehicle for most urban uses.

What is preventing more people from cycling in our city is nothing other than an unsafe and hostile environment. And here we are proposing laws to make cycling harder instead of easier, which is the exact opposite of what we ought to be doing. New Yorkers need better bills than Intro 497-2004 and, apparently, better politicians as well.
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Old 12-30-04, 03:59 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randya
More than 100 years after its invention, bicycles are still the most efficient vehicles on our roads. Think about it. No noise. No pollution. And the ability to travel at more than 20 miles an hour via human power. Yet as a society, we continue to move in the wrong direction and promote automobile use in our city.

Amen!
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Old 12-30-04, 04:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by randya

The proposed bill would require all cyclists in the city over the age of 16 to register their bicycles with the Department of Transportation. This legislation would also impose steep penalties for failure to comply, which include substantial fines, seizure of property, and jail.

.
They want cyclists to register their bikes with the Department of Transportation for the purpose of issuing tickets. Plain and simple.

Here's the problem with the bill.

1. There is no problem --- Police can issue tickets at will and do so. I've been given a ticket for running a red light. This registration will only effect those who are driving motor cars because it will incease their insurance. Furthermore, cycling tickets already effect your insurance so why do we need another law?

2. No Inspection = Useless registration --- Registration might be useful if bikes were required to pass some kind of inspection. Maybe then, department store bikes wouldn't get the poor assembly they do today. However, such a system is costly and would require a whole set of employees who have knowledge in a properly maintained bicycle. I doubt the city will fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars for people that will just sit around most of the day.

3. Cycling tickets are discarded ---- In New York City, all cycling tickets will be discarded if you pay the attorneys who work inside traffic court. You would be surprised at all the drivers who should NOT be on the road but are thanks to those lawyers. I did a thread on this during the summer and it was a real eye opener.

Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 12-30-04 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 12-30-04, 04:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve

According to Noah Budnik, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, a group that claims to be a voice for bicycling interests that has little to show for its 20 years of activism on behalf of cyclists,"

.
The above statement is not true. Here's what Transportation Alternatives did in the last 20 years.

1. Pedestrian and bicycling paths on all the East River bridges for the first time in 50 years.
2. A complete Hudson River Greenway--ten miles of car-free walking and cycling along the scenic Hudson.
3. A promise of a Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a car-free path circling the entirety of Manhattan.
4. Year-round "Summer Hours" in Prospect Park plus a further increase in car-free hours in the park.
5. Year round weekday car-free hours in Central Park, plus the reclamation of three motor vehicle
entrances as parkland.
6. Legal bike access on New York City subways and commuter railroads, including 24/7 access to the
NYC subway

7. New improved Manhattan access to the Brooklyn Bridge promenade.
8. Won huge reduction in pedestrian fatalities to less than half of 1990 level.
9. Major pedestrian safety improvements on Queens Boulevard.
10. Major pedestrian improvements in Herald Square and Times Square.
11. The Bronx Safe Routes to School: Pedestrian improvements at 38 Bronx schools
12. Creation of NYC DOT citywide Safe Schools Program.
13. Landmark New York City traffic calming law
14. 800 speed humps on neighborhood streets
15. Numerous new bike lanes throughout NYC
16. Bike racks on city streets throughout NYC
17. Full-time pedestrian and bicycle access to the George Washington Bridge
18. Secure bike parking at several midtown garages
19. Pedestrian and cyclist access to River Road on the Jersey Palisades
20 Overturn of the midtown bicycle ban
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Old 12-30-04, 04:40 PM   #5
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Thanks Steve...

That "little to show" comment really irked the hell out of me too. I wonder what Noah thought of that remark...
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Old 12-30-04, 05:56 PM   #6
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Yeah, I was a little skeptical of Mr. Silver's dismissal of the effectiveness of TA, too.
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Old 12-30-04, 07:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
... This registration will only effect those who are driving motor cars because it will incease their insurance. Furthermore, cycling tickets already effect your insurance so why do we need another law? ...
This is NOT true in general, although it may be in some states or with some insurance companies.
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Old 12-31-04, 03:58 PM   #8
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I'd really like to see this shot down, as I do not wish to be encumbered with registering my bicycle in the future. Sure, I'm in California, but when overbearing government bureaucracy is the scale, California is at the wrong extreme, and will refuse to be outdone by NYC. :-(
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Old 12-31-04, 04:21 PM   #9
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I Wouldn't get too excited about this one. They're not the first place in the world to propose such a law (heck, it's even been tried here in Queensland), and they won't be the last. Their problem will come when someone mentions the cost of the whole thing, compared to any revenue the scheme is likely to raise. Basically, they will find (as everyone else who's looked at it has) that the whole system is set to run at a loss. When this is realised, the idea will be thrown out, just as it has every other time it's been proposed anywhere in the world.
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Old 12-31-04, 06:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
The above statement is not true. Here's what Transportation Alternatives did in the last 20 years.
I don't see "Promotion and delivery of cyclist training courses to produce more competent and legal riders." Pity that.
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Old 12-31-04, 10:30 PM   #11
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I don't see "Promotion and delivery of cyclist training courses to produce more competent and legal riders." Pity that.
...and I don't see "free cake for everyone." And yet I'm still glad they've accomplished what they have. Funny that.



[from their site:
NYC is a flat, compact and potentially terrific place to ride a bicycle. This is why 110,000 New Yorkers commute by bicycle everyday. But cyclists face many obstacles, particularly the lack of secure places to park their bikes and unsafe street conditions. T.A. seeks to overcome these obstacles by winning bicycle lanes, off-street greenway paths, secure indoor bicycle parking and unrestricted access to the subways. Our Operation Hazard ID program catalogs thousands of street hazards and gets them fixed by the DOT. T.A. also encourages cycling as a smart, fun way to get around through Bike Week NYC and the NYC Century Bike Tour, and reminds cyclists to stay off sidewalks and obey traffic rules through our Give Respect / Get Respect program. ]
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Old 01-01-05, 02:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Seanholio
I'd really like to see this shot down, as I do not wish to be encumbered with registering my bicycle in the future. Sure, I'm in California, but when overbearing government bureaucracy is the scale, California is at the wrong extreme, and will refuse to be outdone by NYC. :-(
I think most of the cities here in California wouldn't be as ridiculous as New York in their proposal. Newark has a voluntary registration for bikes. If they made it mandatory, I'd have to pay $5 per bike, I think, and put a sticker on my bike. I believe the New York proposal would require a sizable license plate to be installed front and rear on the bike.
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Old 01-06-05, 01:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by randya
Make no mistake about it: This is an agency[DOT] that doesn't even know what a bicycle is. How else can you explain the lack of a safe, appropriate, riding infrastructure for the more than 3 million bicycles that city residents own? What they call a bike lane the rest of us use as taxi-hailing and double-parking lanes...

What is preventing more people from cycling in our city is nothing other than an unsafe and hostile environment.
actually, i think its nice that they're finally recognizing cyclist, seriously as commuter using the road. I wonder how this is gonna work though. they're proposing bicycle licenses, so are we going to have to pay for them as we do motor vechicle licenses? If we do pay for it, are we going to get more roads, and better riding conditions? maybe they'll do something about all those non-cyclist hogging up the cyclist's lane. basically, i'm all for licenses, if we're offered something back, like better lanes, and more of them. This relationship's got to be reciprocal.

What would be really *****in is if we got a bicycle highway. not too wide, maybe like one car lane so that we're not limited to local streets where we have to stop for lights and watch out for pedestrians which can inhibit our bicycle riding enjoyment...
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Old 01-06-05, 06:13 PM   #14
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What would be really *****in is if we got a bicycle highway. not too wide, maybe like one car lane so that we're not limited to local streets where we have to stop for lights and watch out for pedestrians which can inhibit our bicycle riding enjoyment...

Called a Rails to Trails network. Ohio and Northern Virginia are excellent on that.
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Old 01-07-05, 06:36 AM   #15
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If this law becomes reality, Kryptonite is going to have to come out with a New York Chain Bike License Plate lock.

I can see it now...the NYPD in hot pursuit of a bike with stolen plates. Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?...
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Old 01-07-05, 07:31 AM   #16
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Taxes, taxes, taxes
Cyclists do not pay fuel and registration/usage fees so B-cats feel they have no right to the road.
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Old 01-07-05, 03:35 PM   #17
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I have to agree that bicycle registration is unnecessary. We have a mandatory bicycle registration law in DC, and it is largely ignored, even with the $1-one-time fee. But I noticed recently a sign at the LBS I go to often that strongly suggested patrons get their bicycles registered. This LBS is the one closest to Capitol Hill and the Captiol Police has purchased bicycles through them. Hopefully it doesn't pass there, but if it did, I'd be curious to know whether they can actually enforce that law considering how well traffic laws are enforced on bicycle riders.

Anyhow, rationale for the law here has been for citing lawbreakers as well. but as has been pointed out that isn't necessary. The cops can find out who you are. Further, there is the recovery after theft angle, in which case I believe it should be voluntary. I doubt that there is effective theft recovery with the registration.
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Old 01-07-05, 04:20 PM   #18
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"Cyclists do not pay fuel and registration/usage fees so B-cats feel they have no right to the road."

Too bad these fees collected from motorists don't pay for the roads, either.

Dear heaven, here in Virginia they're talking about doing away with the 17.5 cent state gas tax, it's such an encumberment on the poor, tax-stricken motorists. Sob, sob.

Since a goodly portion of road funding comes from general funds in most states (income, sales, and property taxes) cyclists do pay taxes to support our roads system, likely in greater proportion than motorists do, considering the space cars take up and the damage they do relative to a bike.

We need us some edumacated B-crats.
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Old 01-07-05, 04:31 PM   #19
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The purpose of the proposed law is to get publicity for a certain politician. It's working.

Chris L. is right, this ain't gonna happen. It's unworkable and won't get a majority. Continue to speak out against it, but keep things in perspective. And try not to do the politician any favors in the way you fight it.
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Old 01-07-05, 05:35 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplebiker
I have to agree that bicycle registration is unnecessary. We have a mandatory bicycle registration law in DC, and it is largely ignored, even with the $1-one-time fee.
I recently moved from DC and hadn't ever heard of this. I just went down to my garage and looked just above the bottom bracket and found an "official" looking bike registration sticker. Seems I registered without knowing.

Also, im sure this bill will go nowhere--we've already pointed out WAY too many reasons not to pass it. We should be ok. *still crossing fingers*
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