Last week, Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced legislation that would require bicyclists to become registered, for a onetime $20 fee. The reasoning: Issuing bike license plates would make it easier to track down law-breaking cyclists who flout traffic laws and sometimes even mow down pedestrians. And in the same session, Jim Kenney, DiCicco’s partner in quality-of-life crime-fighting, added his two cents, or, rather, a $300 fine for bicyclists breaking the law.
Perhaps acknowledging the level of outrage that would be met with such an idea, DiCicco said that it was just a start of “the conversation.”
“Conversation” is the polite term for it, judging by the reaction of many cyclists.
While many motorists are rightly frustrated with cyclists who breeze through red lights, weave in and out of traffic and otherwise thumb their noses at traffic laws, the idea of registration and license plates is a step too far. For one thing, it imposes a new level of bureaucracy for an activity that has freedom in its DNA. And this is a city well-known for elevating the worst of bureaucratic bungling to an art form.
Our other beefs: What about people who bike in from other locations (for which registration is a big “Don’t Come Here” sign), or even commute into the city from other locales? Is it fair to impose registration on them? We’re also uncomfortable with the suggested $100 fine for violators.
There are better ways to try to solve this problem. Enforcement of the laws is a start, and deploying more police on bicycle patrols would make this relatively easy. Plus, we need better education about the laws that bicyclists often ignore – in the form of street signage. Why not enlist the Bicycle Coalition and other groups to help solve the problem? Maybe bike shops have a role to play in spreading the word. DiCicco is right to tackle the problem, but this is one that demands simpler and more creative solutions. *