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  1. #1
    Resident smartass. Fargo Wolf's Avatar
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    Another "Cyclists Should Be Licensed To Ride"

    Letter to the Editor in N. Vancouver's (Canada) newspaper:

    Linky:
    LETTER: Cyclists should be licensed to ride - Letters - North Shore News

    The reply to the letter writer is good.

  2. #2
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Already have a license;it's got a motorcycle endorsement,I'd have no problem getting another for bikes. Also ok with putting a plate on every bike in my fleet. However,cars would then be required to treat me as an equal.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Already have a license;it's got a motorcycle endorsement,I'd have no problem getting another for bikes. Also ok with putting a plate on every bike in my fleet. However,cars would then be required to treat me as an equal.
    I think we have more to loose than to gain by being treated as equals to motor vehicles.
    Better driver education and training, quality bicycle infastructure in problematic and urban areas, that's what's really needed.

  4. #4
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    What contribution are cyclists making to the cost of all these bicycle lanes? Or to put it another way, in what way are they contributing to the cost that the rest of us are not?
    What these people fail to grasp is that while our taxes pay for the construction of bike lanes and cycling infrastructure, only a few of us choose to get out and actually use them.

    All you have to do is buy a bike and exercise a bit to be a "cyclist". Here's my question, why arn't more people doing it?

  5. #5
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    There is no other way to comment on this idea rather than say it is an ignorant idea. Having a cyclist be licensed, or requiring a bike license just wont work. I boils down as to do we want police to be slamming little Susie up against the wall, hand cuffing her and hauling her off to jail because she doesnt have a license?? The police these days have far bigger problems than chasing down little 4 year old Susie. This is just another stupid idea from some people that seem to have a brain damaged idea they must control the lives of everyone.

  6. #6
    Senior Member okane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    There is no other way to comment on this idea rather than say it is an ignorant idea. Having a cyclist be licensed, or requiring a bike license just wont work. I boils down as to do we want police to be slamming little Susie up against the wall, hand cuffing her and hauling her off to jail because she doesnt have a license?? The police these days have far bigger problems than chasing down little 4 year old Susie. This is just another stupid idea from some people that seem to have a brain damaged idea they must control the lives of everyone.
    This is just another stupid idea from some people that seem to have a brain damaged idea they must control the lives of everyone.

    Right you are!!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    A great point is made often in the comments. Most cyclists, probably almost ALL cyclists (outside of perhaps dense urban areas) also own a car out of necessity. And that car results in them having the same license, paying the same fees, and the same taxes; even though they are actually using the vehicle less. (The exception is fuel taxes which they may pay less of, by virtue of buying less fuel. And in many areas fuel taxes cover road expenses)

    I have a motorcycle endorsement and my motorcycle must be registered and insured. It's also capable of going well over 100mph and can seriously injure or kill someone. It burns fuel, and puts wear and tear on the roadways. It rides right in the middle of the lane at the same speed as traffic.

    But a bicycle? I'm not so sure. I can't really see an argument where a license is all that necessary. What benefit it has for the greater populations. Laws are laws without a license. A bicyclist violating the law can certainly be stopped and ticketed. You don't have to have a license to be compelled to follow the law.

    The only argument I COULD see, regards exclusively to public roadways. (In many jurisdictions, especially outside of city limits; there's no need to register or insure a vehicle, even have a drivers license, if it doesn't go on public roadways. Where I grew up, an old, uninsured, unlicensed pickup driven around the farm by a 14 year old driver hauling firewood, feed, etc., around the farm was a common sight. And not at all illegal, as long as they didn't go onto public roads. Actually they can even get 'farm tags' which basically have very little requirements and allow the truck to be within a certain distance from the farm, i.e., to get to the gas station or the feed store).

    So let's say, a bicyclist needs to have a permit, which requires a written test that demonstrates a basic familiarity with laws; OR a valid drivers license, in order to ride on public roads. I'm not saying that's what I want. But in the interest of broadening my own mind I could see an argument for that. Something that seems reasonable. As cyclists are a part of the drivers license curriculum (at least here in MO), there's no reason a person with a valid drivers license would need an additional bicycling permit. There are particularities with motorcycles, commercial vehicles, and other 'endorsements', but I don't see the same argument for bicycles.

    Just food for thought. To answer the 'little susie' question, there's also certainly no reason why under such a system the requirement could be for adults, or only public roadways (restricting kids to the sidewalks. Though growing up I rode in the street all the time, but it was the small neighborhood streets)

  8. #8
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    I have a motor vehicle license, a motorcycle endorsement, a fishing license, and a concealed pistols license. I'm sure one of those should be sufficient.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Most adult bicycle riders also have drivers licenses.... except for those that the state is playing games with their licenses. Many also drive.

    For infrastructure... Should we also license pedestrians to pay for the sidewalks? Jay Walkers?

    I believe that encouraging exercise, as well as making it safe is part of the public good that is part of the scope of our governments.

    Shoulders on the road, and bike paths provide extra buffers for cars, and are good for the car traffic, as helping maintain safe traffic flow around bicycles. "Dooring" is one of the plagues of cycling in the city, but the bike paths also provide a buffer for parked cars.

    It is hard to say that it is only the occasional cyclists that benefit from cycling infrastructure.

  10. #10
    Senior Member yote223's Avatar
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    Roger That !!!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by okane View Post
    This is just another stupid idea from some people that seem to have a brain damaged idea they must control the lives of everyone.

    Right you are!!!!!!!!
    It's hard to soar with the Eagles when you're flying with Turkeys
    Charter Member of PSIP Coalition.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Oh... one note about insurance.

    Mandatory Insurance requirements are for liability insurance.

    Being on a bike doesn't exclude a person from liability for doing something to harm another. However, damages caused by solo riders are generally very minimal, and they usually get the bad end of any accident. Now, there are some widely publicized cases where a bike will run into a pedestrian, or running into another bicycle where damages can be quite high.

  12. #12
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    I will happily license every bike in my fleet. By the POUND/KILO. This method of determining fees should be applied to any vehicle using public roadways.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  13. #13
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    I'm wondering about the road test. Around here, a lot of the DMV evaluators couldn't do it, unless they followed behind in a car, taking hands free voice notes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    I will happily license every bike in my fleet. By the POUND/KILO. This method of determining fees should be applied to any vehicle using public roadways.
    But that would mean a $2,000,000 sports car would be cheaper to license than my $18,000 Ford Focus. Here in my state license fees are actually the same based on vehicle type (car, motorcycle, light truck, commercial vehicle, etc.) But property taxes are based roughly on the actual value of the vehicle, as determined by a somewhat arbitrary 'taxable horsepower' metric. But it does mean more valuable cars garner higher taxes, and vice versa.

    Quote Originally Posted by dpeters11 View Post
    I'm wondering about the road test. Around here, a lot of the DMV evaluators couldn't do it, unless they followed behind in a car, taking hands free voice notes.
    With motorcycles in many states, the road test is mostly evaluating low-speed handling, in addition to a written test required to demonstrate a comprehension of road laws, and particularities about motorcycling (i.e., using the appropriate brake, crossing railroad tracks, etc.) This is often done in a parking lot, with the evaluator (in my state it's actually the Highway Patrol, not the DMV, who evaluates) standing in the parking lot and giving verbal instructions while grading your ability to perform low speed maneuvers.

    I gather the same could be done for bicycles. Demonstrating a basic proficiency with the vehicle, along with a written test to cover road laws.

    I'm not sure why bikes need to be registered or the riders licensed; but again, I could see an argument for any vehicle on public roads requiring a licensed operator. So some sort of a written (road law familiarity, etc.) test in order to obtain a Bicyclists license, for drivers without a driver license, makes sense. Though, you also have to figure out whether you're going to issue Bicycling licenses to individuals who have had their drivers license revoked. Where I live, a good number of folks out on bicycles (and 49cc scooters which are similarly exempt. They are basically considered a motorized bicycle and require no license, insurance, or registration) are folks who have had their driving privileges revoked. Most often, due to excessive DWI/DUI's. In fact, those 49cc scooters have a nickname around here, "DWI mobile". It's a rural area, not a college town. There's nothing urban about it. So they seem sort of out of place. In the minds of many, the only reason someone would be riding one out here is because they couldn't be riding a motorcycle or driving a car.

  15. #15
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    I will happily license every bike in my fleet. By the POUND/KILO. This method of determining fees should be applied to any vehicle using public roadways.
    Keep in mind that the damage we do to the roads increases with the fourth power of the axle load. So the 10 times heavier vehicle (per axle) causes 10,000 times the damage.

    So a fair bicycle licence fee to cover the road maintenance might be, a buck maybe? Probably less.
    Last edited by wphamilton; 01-12-15 at 02:24 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    The number of tires and width of the tires also count towards the impact on the roads... So the little skinny 20mm tires should carry heavier fees than a "fat bike", especially when considering the gross vehicle weight of the bike + rider.

    But the reality is that the bikes have essentially no road impact, but are sensitive to all the road debris, branches, limbs, pebbles, and the trash thrown out by drivers.

    The biggest question is who should pay for the infrastructure.

    It is my belief that a street-side system has significant positives for cars, and protecting the bikes aids in traffic flow.

    Off-Street paths & bridges are known as MUTS (Multi-Use Trail System) or something to that effect. They are used by walkers, joggers, hikers, as well as bicycles. Pushing 100% of their cost onto bikers would be inappropriate... So, every toddler should also be required to get a license to walk.

    Likewise, parks and dog-parks are part of the public good, even if not fully utilized by everyone. Should the side-walks in the parks also be restricted?

    Now, it is true that some parks also charge for parking, which bicyclists also tend to avoid (since they don't take up parking spots).

    I guess I believe that our government should be encouraging alternative transportation, and take appropriate measures to encourage it, whether there is one cyclist, a hundred, a thousand, or a million.

    Since Oregon gets most ifs road taxes from fuel, it has been wrestling with how to collect taxes from the fuel efficient vehicles. At one time the government came up with a special Prius Tax. That got dropped pretty quickly as people pointed out that the government should be encouraging efficiency, not penalizing it.

    I don't want to bring up the debate here, but humanity doesn't have to treat our atmosphere (and that of our children and grandchildren) as a cesspool. And bikes have the lowest impact on our atmosphere (unless you count a bit of sweat).

  17. #17
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    The number of tires and width of the tires also count towards the impact on the roads... So the little skinny 20mm tires should carry heavier fees than a "fat bike", especially when considering the gross vehicle weight of the bike + rider.
    That's true, and the roads need resurfacing after some years anyway even with little traffic.

    So we couldn't really get away with proposing $1 road fee for bikes and $160,000 for passenger cars, based on the 20 times heavier. Maybe only $1000 for cars and ten cents for bikes, that seems fair.

  18. #18
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    Maybe only $1000 for cars and ten cents for bikes, that seems fair.
    This was my point actually. Then factor in costs of motor vehicles ruining the atmosphere everyone has to breath along with ruining the watershed with concrete parking lots everywhere which increases flood potential and property damage, maybe even loss of life. Factor it ALL in, then tell me what I owe for my bikes based on that formula.

    Quote Originally Posted by RomansFiveEight View Post
    But that would mean a $2,000,000 sports car would be cheaper to license than my $18,000 Ford Focus.
    As far as high performance cars costing more $$ than utilitarian cars, that is usually handled with sales taxes/luxury taxes at the time of purchase. From that moment on, road damage is strictly a weight/axle/number of tires issue, along with how often the vehicle gets driven.

    Lets put it this way. If license fees were sold by the pound, bikes would cost $0.01/year and cars would cost $10,000/year. This would serve to shut the mouths of anyone wanting bicycles to be licensed for sure. "Yeah...we can do it, but it's going to increase auto license fees one hundred fold." "Uhhhh...no thanks...never-mind..."
    Last edited by JoeyBike; 01-12-15 at 03:39 PM.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  19. #19
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Bike + Rider = about 200 lbs.
    My Fiat 500 = about 1000 lbs
    Average car = about 3000 lbs.

    So... The bike is about 20% of the weight of the Fiat and 5-10% of the weight of the average car.

    So, your tax then should be about 1/10 that of the car. Should one also include fuel?

    Say your car gets 30 mpg for 5000 miles, that is 167 gallons. What is the tax? 50 cents a gallon? So, another $80 for gas taxes, plus the registration fees, license fees, and etc. Personal property taxes in some places too... how is that associated with cars?

    Lane width is also worth calculating. One has about 4' for the bike, and 12' for the car. So, that is a whole 1/3.

    Anyway, one might be able to justify a few bucks for the avid rider. Not so much for the occasional. rider.

    The big problem is the total number. The cars outnumber the bikes, maybe 100:1, or even 1000:1. That means that while one's bike lane maybe 1/3 of the road, paying for it could be the charge of much fewer road users.

    HOWEVER... if anybody was to tax the bikes, I would expect them to also regularly sweep the shoulders and bike lanes. And much of the debris on the shoulders is directly attributable to the cars on the road, then the cars should pay for it, even though pebbles don't bother car drivers. I've never seen a bicycle rider throw a beer bottle onto the road and break it.

  20. #20
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    This was my point actually. Then factor in costs of motor vehicles ruining the atmosphere everyone has to breath along with ruining the watershed with concrete parking lots everywhere which increases flood potential and property damage, maybe even loss of life. Factor it ALL in, then tell me what I owe for my bikes based on that formula.
    ..."
    I know, I'm just helping out. Another thing is the cost parking spaces, national median cost of around $16,000 per space with land and construction. I know, a lot of that is borne by businesses but what about on-street parking? 100 million of them, just counting metered spots. It would be appropriate to add that cost into vehicle license fees.

    With the external costs you mention it just goes up and up. The cost in abbreviated life spans alone is tens of billions, without even going into medical costs.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    This was my point actually. Then factor in costs of motor vehicles ruining the atmosphere everyone has to breath along with ruining the watershed with concrete parking lots everywhere which increases flood potential and property damage, maybe even loss of life. Factor it ALL in, then tell me what I owe for my bikes based on that formula.



    As far as high performance cars costing more $$ than utilitarian cars, that is usually handled with sales taxes/luxury taxes at the time of purchase. From that moment on, road damage is strictly a weight/axle/number of tires issue, along with how often the vehicle gets driven.

    Lets put it this way. If license fees were sold by the pound, bikes would cost $0.01/year and cars would cost $10,000/year. This would serve to shut the mouths of anyone wanting bicycles to be licensed for sure. "Yeah...we can do it, but it's going to increase auto license fees one hundred fold." "Uhhhh...no thanks...never-mind..."
    Some of that is already accomplished in most areas. For one, there's a gas tax. So the cars that are driven the most, pay a larger portion of taxes just by virtue of buying more fuel. (The exception is farm implementation, etc. In many states, diesel fuel sold explicitly for off-road use is not taxed the same. But those vehicles also never use public roadways.) The same goes for cars that are more efficient. And while it's not "by the pound", in most states; there are additional licensing classifications based on weight. A 3/4 ton pickup truck DOES pay more than a 4-door sedan.

    I get what you're saying, I'm just not so sure it's feasible or even reasonable. And I don't think someone would say "oh, gee, now that you put it that way!", they'd still dig their heel in and demand that a bicycle be tagged and registered. Perhaps in the same way a motorcycle is.

    Imagine the gram-counters dealing with steel license plates. HA!

    Also, a lot of this (and a lot of the stats posted here), make a lot more sense in Urban America, and don't work as well out here in more rural America (unfortunately).

    Also; I think you could license riders (i.e., small written test to insure that riders riding on public roads are familiar with the laws of the road. Or, possessing a drivers license which in theory gives them the same knowledge.), without needing to license the Bicycle.

    Just spit-balling. I'm all for reducing our dependance on oil, cars, and our overall carbon footprint. But I also think there are better ways to do that. (Like tightening down on manufacturers, rather than the end user. Which could be a low-income family squeezed out of the ability to keep sustainable employment because of the cost of transportation. Etc.) But that's probably verging close to political.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    Bike + Rider = about 200 lbs.
    My Fiat 500 = about 1000 lbs
    Average car = about 3000 lbs.

    So... The bike is about 20% of the weight of the Fiat and 5-10% of the weight of the average car.

    So, your tax then should be about 1/10 that of the car. Should one also include fuel?

    Say your car gets 30 mpg for 5000 miles, that is 167 gallons. What is the tax? 50 cents a gallon? So, another $80 for gas taxes, plus the registration fees, license fees, and etc. Personal property taxes in some places too... how is that associated with cars?
    The average driver in the U.S. travels 12,000 miles a year. I actually put 18,000 miles on my car last year, plus about 10,000 on the motorcycle. So the gas tax the average driver pays IS a little more than that. But in most areas, the gas tax goes directly (or at least mostly) to maintaining infrastructure. I'm with you though; if they want to tax the bikes, then they need to offer some better infrastructure for the bikes.

  23. #23
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RomansFiveEight View Post
    Just spit-balling.
    Yeah, it's fun to think up all the twists and turns in the bike vs. car debate. Sort of like dreaming of what I would do if I won the Lotto (if I played the Lotto). Sometimes responding to hot air with more hot air is actually a fun pastime.

    Good points in your post. I am just grateful they removed an auto lane and added a striped bike lane on my most direct route to work. Without starting some huge debate about bike lanes, the thing has changed my life and I would be willing to toss a few bucks in the kitty every year for such things.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    Yeah, it's fun to think up all the twists and turns in the bike vs. car debate. Sort of like dreaming of what I would do if I won the Lotto (if I played the Lotto). Sometimes responding to hot air with more hot air is actually a fun pastime.

    Good points in your post. I am just grateful they removed an auto lane and added a striped bike lane on my most direct route to work. Without starting some huge debate about bike lanes, the thing has changed my life and I would be willing to toss a few bucks in the kitty every year for such things.
    Yeah, I'd pay for something like that too.

    I'm just afraid that's not the intention of those who want the bikes to be taxed. They just want cyclists to "suffer with the rest of us". None of these people, at least the ones like were linked to in the OP; intend to use that tax revenue to improve infrastructure for cyclists. It's more a punishment or deterrent more than anything; because they don't like the inconvenience of getting behind a slow bicycle. (Although the reduced demand in oil is causing gas prices to plummet; and Bicyclists who commute are contributing to that. In the spirit of 'hot air for hot air', although it's impossible to quantify, I wonder what folks would respond to "Would you rather return to high gas prices, or continue to have to pass bicyclists")

  25. #25
    Senior Member kingston's Avatar
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    I would get one. It would be an insignificant speck on the dung heap of government bureaucracy that I am forced to endure for the privilege of living in this great nation.
    1981 Trek 613 | 1990 Schwinn KOM S7 | 1991 Schwinn Cruiser | 2012 Jamis Aurora Elite | 2013 Rivendell Sam Hillborne | 2013 Dolan Pre Cursa | 2014 Wabi Lightening SE

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