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California Bike License

Old 01-15-09, 12:46 PM
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California Bike License

So.... in a recent "Los Angeles" magazine, there was an article about the large group rides at night, problems encountered and problems with police. In that article it was noted that certain riders were being fined $150 for riding an unlicensed bike on the street. I thought... WHAT?!?! I've lived in LA over 15 years.... what is this license thing?

Well, after looking into the whole thing... there actually is a law about it. Been this way for decades. I frequently ride into Santa Monica, where a friend of mine got a moving violation (as if he was driving a car) for running a stop sign on a bike. I thought it might be a good idea to do the license on my commuter and road bike, if anything to avoid the $150 ticket I could face.

Get this, it's $3 for 3 years. Talk about cheap. Not just a city thing, it's a California License. I remember paying something like $15 dollars in Minneapolis where they really enforced bike license laws. You get two tags, one a 1x2 inch license tag and a renewal tag (little smaller). It's got to cost the state some bucks to provide these tags and keep records... way above $1 per year.

I just posted this if this was news to other California riders, like it was for me.
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Old 01-15-09, 01:06 PM
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You said you looked into this ... can you share additional information, like what's the statute that provides for a California bike license, how does one go about getting one, what agency suprevises the licensing process, etc.? Thanks!
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Old 01-15-09, 01:11 PM
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I'm not lawyer, but the law seems to say that bike licenses are a local option. Davis requires them, and LA, but not Sacramento.
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Old 01-15-09, 01:11 PM
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i've never heard about this. i've seen a bike license once. i thought you had to regiester your bike and its serial number with the city you live in. i would love to have a bike license on my commuter, but not my nice road bike.

dmv website:
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/tocd16_7.htm

example of what it looks like:


i sent an email to the city of cupertino to see if i need one.
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Old 01-15-09, 01:17 PM
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Only time I needed a license was when I was a student at UC Davis. The city itself does not enforce this - only if you are parking on campus. I was not aware of any other city's that enforced this.
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Old 01-15-09, 01:32 PM
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sounds somewhat like a "gotcha" law. One of those laws if you speak your opinion(a negative one to the police) they could just be like "Hey gotta a license for that bike?" "well here is a $150 ticket!" A law in which they rarely enforce but will do so if they have any "trouble" from a cyclist. Then they'll play the card saying it helps recover stolen bikes and it keeps the streets "safe".
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Old 01-15-09, 01:48 PM
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I've told this story before but you'll like it:

I had a bike stolen from my apartment (California, off the roof of my car, didn't get the front wheel). A couple weeks later I get a phone call from the police station. An officer was just driving along in town (only a few blocks from my apartment!) and a guy on my bike in front of him just sort of fell over in traffic. The cop checked him out, recognized the signs of a stolen bike (mismatched wheels, tape covering decals etc) and saw that the bike did not have one of those stickers. Now the thief had not broken any laws EXCEPT - the bike did not have one of those stickers so he was in violation of the sticker law and THAT (the cop told me) gave the cop sufficient cause to run the serial number and sure enough they found the stolen bike report.

It's ironic that had I registered the bike I wouldn't have gotten it back even though registration is ostensibly in part to help return stolen bikes.

Other folks have claimed the cop could have run the serial number without the sticker violation, but obviously what the cop thinks is what counts in that situation. Later, I wondered why the cop didn't make me get the bike registered before giving it back to me... he clearly didn't care.

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Old 01-15-09, 01:50 PM
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^^ agreed. i don't think I have ever seen bike lisence laws enforced unless they were after someone for something else. On that note, one city where I lived gave me a slip of paper telling me I was not required to register my bike after I had a big ordeal with them because it was a semi-custom job that HAD no serial number. I showed them proof of purchase and they were just like "oh in that case, never mind" I don't think they had ever encountered that situation before. Also, they usually record the color and I have had several bikes that never stayed the same color or were too baned up to even really have a color. i wonder what happens then? i just try to ride safely, obey laws, etc. and I have never been bothered by the cops so I don't worry about it.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:03 PM
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I have been riding in L.A. for over 35 years and never had a California Bike License.
My father, born in L.A. 75 years ago, never had a California Bike License either.
I have been pulled over by cops four times in the past 10 years while riding my bike.
The cops never mentioned the California Bike License.
As far as I'm concerned, the California Bike License does not exist.

Last edited by mackerel; 01-15-09 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:04 PM
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For years, DC had a requirement that all bikes had to be registered with the police department and engraved with a serial number by the department. In large part, this was done to ensure that bikes had the basic safety requirements (bell and lights). Anyway, it was rarely enforced, generally only when the police were on some bike-busting mission. To boot, it was nearly impossible to go through the registration process becase non of the police stations ever had the engraving equipment up and running (over the years, I made a total of 12 trips to the various police stations around town without ever being able to register my bike). Finally, last year, DC eliminated this program after they finally admitted it was just a waste of time and money. Now, they recommend riders use the National Bike Registry system.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Anthony87 View Post
sounds somewhat like a "gotcha" law. One of those laws if you speak your opinion(a negative one to the police) they could just be like "Hey gotta a license for that bike?" "well here is a $150 ticket!" A law in which they rarely enforce but will do so if they have any "trouble" from a cyclist. Then they'll play the card saying it helps recover stolen bikes and it keeps the streets "safe".

So happy to live in a place where the cops are actually busy serving and protecting.
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Old 01-15-09, 03:04 PM
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I have family members, including my older brother who are cops and they have never mentioned anything about a stupid bicycle license. Seems to me that the state will find any reason to fine and/or tax your @$$!
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Old 01-15-09, 03:08 PM
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From https://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d16_7/vc39011.htm

Fines: Limitations
39011. No fine imposed for any violation of an ordinance or resolution, which is adopted pursuant to this division, shall exceed ten dollars ($10).

No idea why the cops are handing out $150 fines!!!

Is there anywhere online that says which towns/cities in CA actually enforce the licence? I'd rather avoid even a $10 fine if it's just a case of paying a couple of bucks a year!
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Old 01-15-09, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by huhenio View Post
So happy to live in a place where the cops are actually busy serving and protecting.
Can you send a few of those to us in DC?
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Old 01-15-09, 09:16 PM
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I used to have one on a bike when I lived in Orange. Now I tried it in several neighboring cities and they don't provide licenses. Irvine does for instance but you have to live there.
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Old 01-15-09, 09:28 PM
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I think this is fantastic! Bike riders are now getting tax credits to commute to work. This is grossly unfair to the millions of pedestrians that relegated to walking on sidewalks. I say tax the greedy cyclists and their $5000 gleaming titanium monuments to selfishness. I'd go further and create an excise tax on bicycles over $100.00. No pedestrian should be made to suffer second class status.
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Old 01-15-09, 10:09 PM
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Hi all,
I've been lurking around the forum for a few months and enjoyed many of the posts, and of course learned a lot also. Thanks to all for that. However this thread intrigued me enough to read more, found this snippet:
https://www.bicyclefixation.com/blog/.../00000267.html
and also:
https://la.streetsblog.org/2009/01/09...cense-program/
It seems some sense is prevailing, however the "peoples republic of Santa Monica" sells them online if you're really desperate for one
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Old 01-15-09, 10:16 PM
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I was drafting on a cement truck on the way to work one morning, probably going about 35-40. I hear a policeman blip the siren and realize I've been busted. I don't know why he didn't just charge me for tailgating. He asked me if my bike was registered, and when I said no, he was going to take it. I told him I was going to be late for work and he let me off. The locals around here justify it by saying it will help if your bike is stolen. Doesn't quite explain why you have to keep registering it over and over. At least you can do it online now.
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Old 01-16-09, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mds0725 View Post
You said you looked into this ... can you share additional information, like what's the statute that provides for a California bike license, how does one go about getting one, what agency suprevises the licensing process, etc.? Thanks!
OK, here you go.... more words than substance.

Here are links: https://www.bikelink.com/law_safety.htm

https://www01.smgov.net/finance/licenses/bikelic.htm

And now this link which was just posted on January 09, 2009! The whole thing is weird. Read what happened in Los Angeles...
https://la.streetsblog.org/2009/01/09...cense-program/
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Old 01-16-09, 03:54 AM
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The L.A. licensing program isn't very well organized anyways. You can't just walk into your local police station with your bike, fill out the forms, and get a sticker or just send in a form and get a sticker in the mail. They have designated weekends, which nobody including the police that works there, knows when they are scheduled.

The flip side is that many campus' require bike registration, like USC and UCLA, and they issue stickers 6 days a week. And if you ride through 'certain cities' that require a licence and actively enforces it, like SM...well you can see the potential problems for a cyclist. The license is recognized/honored throughout Calif, regardless of where it was issued.

$3-4 for 3 years isn't bad and cheap insurance if your bike gets stolen. Your bike is in the statewide computer system. That's assuming somebody runs a check on the serial number if they pealed the sticker off. With the high price of gas, more and more bikes are being stolen and re-sold as people are looking for alternative means of transportation. Everything depends if your city/county decides to implement a mandatory bike licensing program. It used to be voluntary or optional for decades in LA.

Now if they start requiring buying/having liability insurance (like cars), that's a whole different argument.
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Old 01-16-09, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Sci-Fi View Post
=
...
And if you ride through 'certain cities' that require a licence and actively enforces it, like SM...well you can see the potential problems for a cyclist.
...

"License Requirement. VC 39002

a) A city or county may adopt a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution providing that no resident shall operate any bicycle on any street, road, highway, or other public property within the city of county, unless such bicycle is licensed in accordance with this division.
"

If you're only passing through the area, but live elsewhere where no registration is required you're not a 'resident' right? So it's fine...?
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Old 01-16-09, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by spikedog123 View Post
I think this is fantastic! Bike riders are now getting tax credits to commute to work. This is grossly unfair to the millions of pedestrians that relegated to walking on sidewalks. I say tax the greedy cyclists and their $5000 gleaming titanium monuments to selfishness. I'd go further and create an excise tax on bicycles over $100.00. No pedestrian should be made to suffer second class status.
Perhaps a $5.00 tax on each shoe sold and higher fees for designer or non-practical stylish shoes. This is because sidewalks are provided by cities, businesses and citizens at great cost. People selfishly stepping on concrete for goodness sake! No bare footed people should be made to suffer second class status.

(Don't hate me... just having a good time)

Ride safe, enjoy the ride. -3bikes
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Old 01-16-09, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 3bikes View Post
OK, here you go.... more words than substance.

Here are links: https://www.bikelink.com/law_safety.htm

https://www01.smgov.net/finance/licenses/bikelic.htm

And now this link which was just posted on January 09, 2009! The whole thing is weird. Read what happened in Los Angeles...
https://la.streetsblog.org/2009/01/09...cense-program/
Thanks for posting that information. The law, as I read it, says that you have to get a bike license through the community in which you live, and the DMV is only required to send registration forms to those cities or counties that have adopted a bike license ordinance, so my guess is that you can't get a bike license unless your community requires one. And, as xenologer points out, Vehicle Code section 39002 only authorizes a city or county to fine someone who doesn't have a license if that person is a resident. So if you get pulled over while riding through a community (like, apparently, Santa Monica) that requires a license but you don't live in that community, you can fight the ticket you get by (i) writing on the back of it that Vehicle Code section 39002 permits a community that requires bike licensing to fine only the people who live there and (ii) attaching proof (a driver's license or a utility bill with your name and address) that you don't live in that community. Thanks, 3bikes, for starting this thread.
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Old 01-16-09, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 3bikes View Post
Perhaps a $5.00 tax on each shoe sold and higher fees for designer or non-practical stylish shoes. This is because sidewalks are provided by cities, businesses and citizens at great cost. People selfishly stepping on concrete for goodness sake! No bare footed people should be made to suffer second class status.

(Don't hate me... just having a good time)

Ride safe, enjoy the ride. -3bikes

I see your point. Beaujois fashion attire must go! All shoes taxed except Chinese laundry shoes, denim coveralls and a chairman Mao cap. That'll keep things in line, and cut down on our greenhouse emmissions....!
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Old 01-16-09, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by InfiniteRegress View Post
For years, DC had a requirement that all bikes had to be registered with the police department and engraved with a serial number by the department.
I'd like to see them try to enforce this with someone with a carbon fiber frame.
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