I have recently been reading about various places, including Long Beach, CA, Toronto, and New York City, toying with the idea of bike registration, and number plates for bikes.
This has already been tried so many times in the past, and failed miserably, mainly because it becomes an administrative nightmare, and the revenue generated doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of implementing such a plan.
The call for bike registration is for the most part a knee jerk reaction by the motoring public in response to seeing an increasing number of cyclists on the road.
I read comments like, “If bicycles had number plates, then riders could be held accountable for their actions; like the ones who run red lights, or hit pedestrians and keep riding.”
Cars have number plates, and their drivers break the law all the time, how many take the time to note their number and report it? And if an infraction is reported, what are the chances of anything being done about it.
Does anyone really think that if a person calls the police to report a cyclist going through a red light that the police are going to allocate the manpower to track down and prosecute the errant cyclist?
Another reason justifying bike registration; it cuts down on bike theft. How does that work? The first thing a thief is going to do is remove the number plate; even go register the bike in his own name.
Are bicycles to have VIN numbers and a Title of Ownership like a car? If a bicycle is to be registered it really should have these items, but again think of the administrative cost.
Bike registration is so impractical and implementing it has so few benefits that I really can’t understand why anyone is even talking about the idea.
It is true some cyclists break the law, but that has a lot to do with the police not enforcing the law. Having a number plate on a bike will do absolutely nothing if there is no enforcement of the law to go along with it.
In New York City it was recently announced that police would start clamping down on scofflaw cyclists. What has happened is that cops are taking the easiest way to fill ticket quotas. They are ticketing cyclists for minor infractions like not having the proper reflectors.
They are going to places like Central Park, where there are a lot of cyclists and few cars, and ticketing cyclists for running red lights there; instead of trying to catch the ones that are a real problem, the ones running red lights at busy city intersections.
Bike registration, as well as being impractical, is just plain wrong. We all share a basic human right to travel from one place to another. If we are doing so under our own power, it should be entirely free of any government intervention.
If cyclists are to be registered or issued a license, what is next, the registration of pedestrians? Pretty soon we will need a license to step outside our own front door.
That doesn’t mean that cyclists should be above the law, and they should allways behave in a responsible manner. The money spent on implementing a bike registration program would be far better spent on education.
A few well made TV ads aired a prime time; educating motorists that cyclists belong on the road, and they need to get used to the idea. Try to educate the few cyclists who give us all a bad name by riding like anarchistic morons.
Any society will always contain a cross-section of people who are anti-social jerks, and unfortunately some of them will be riding bicycles. Making all cyclists register their bikes is not going to change that.