Northern California - Bike License
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06-23-08, 10:38 PM
This is from the County of Santa Clara web page:
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or use a bicycle propelled wholly or in part by muscular power within the unincorporated territory of the County unless said bicycle is registered, licensed and equipped as provided herein. A bicycle means any device upon which a person may ride, which is propelled by human power through a system of belts, chains or gears and which has wheels at last 20 inches in diameter and a frame size of at least 14 inches.
(Code 1954, § 10.7.1-1; Ord. No. NS-1004.64, § 1, 5-23-60; Ord. No. NS-1004.114, § 4, 10-21-75)
So do I need to get a license sticker slapped onto my bike?
06-23-08, 10:45 PM
I think the same law also applies to many cities on the peninsula. Registration stickers cost a few dollars and are available at fire stations. I suspect that a minority of cyclists get them (or even know about these laws). I do not know if the law is ever enforced. Of course, one benefit of the law is that if your bike is stolen and later recovered, the sticker can help the police get the bike back to you.
And lo, the ordinary, the unicycle ("propelled by human power through a system of belts, chains or gears") and the small-wheel folder ("which has wheels at last 20 inches in diameter") did rule the countryside!
06-24-08, 01:24 AM
And what are the police going to do next? Start milking out of area bike tourists doing the down the coast route? Like the old speed traps set up only for people with out-of-state plates on their cars? Just wait for the next Aids Ride coming up. Gary Brustin at www.bicyclelawyer.com is big in the L.A.B and would love the case.
I actually asked a friend about this law.. He said he knew of it, but it is one of those citations that if you are found to have issued, you'll get laughed at. He couldn't site the specific code, and this wont be uncommon, considering most patrol officers and deputies carry two reference sources.. California Vehicle Code and California Penal Code, thats it, and the versions of both of those are usually truncated into "quick codes".
Interesting topic though, because as bikes become more commonplace I'm sure its only a matter of time before there is some sort of tax or fee involved with them
06-24-08, 12:40 PM
Of course, one benefit of the law is that if your bike is stolen and later recovered, the sticker can help the police get the bike back to you.
I've probably told this story before but...
I had a bike stolen from my car's roof rack (actually he didn't get the front wheel because it was in my trunk) ... stupidly forgot it was there and left it overnight. Reported to police for insurance settlement.
Cop calls me about a month later and says he has my bike. Says he was in his patrol car behind this guy on a bike on Main St in Walnut Creek; the guy fell over in traffic, cop gets out to see if he's OK, recognizes the signs of a stolen bike (decals covered up with tape, mismatched wheels, etc) and he needed some excuse to run the serial number so he notes that the bike doesn't have a bicycle license sticker... meaning the rider had committed an infraction by riding an unlicensed bike. Having committed such offense, the cop runs the serial number and finds that it was reported stolen so he confiscated the bike and called me.
The irony of all this is - if *I* had licensed *my* bike, there would have been no infraction and the cop would not have had cause to investigate and I *wouldn't* have gotten my bike back.
The license rule is still on the books but virtually nobody does it.
Walnut Creek Police Department
Records Bureau Forms FAQs
5. Do I need a bicycle license? How do I get one? A bicycle license issued by the state is required to ride a bicycle in the State of California.. Applications are accepted during the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m. on most Saturdays. The cost is $3.50 for the license or $3.00 for a renewal. The licenses are valid for 3 years and can be extended at the end of the 3-year period by purchasing a renewal sticker. A bike license is very useful in identifying your bicycle later if it's lost or stolen.
Edit: since I already had a new bike from my insurance settlement, my friend bought the old bike from the insurance company and then somebody stole it from HIM!
Siu Blue Wind
06-24-08, 06:59 PM
Dang. That bike must be a "wanted" bike! What bike was it?
I knew of this law since I was a kid but had forgotten all about it as an adult. I wonder what the fine is if you don't register it....
I'll get a picture of it, but I have an old Bianchi frame that was left at a rental house my dad owns.. This bike.. has 3 of those CA. license things on it :( Kinda odd if you ask me.
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