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UES Community Board: Start Licensing Bicyclists

The Gothamist: Start Licensing Bicyclists: UES Community Board Discusses Cyclist Regulation

After a taking a summer vacation, the anti-cyclist's favorite threat, cycling licenses and registration, returned to town last night at the Transportation Committee of the UES's Community Board 8, where a resolution "petitioning the city and state to require bicycle registration and some kind of identification for the vehicles, like a license plate" was approved. The nearly unenforceable idea now moves on to the full Community Board which will vote on it October 19th, before sending it on to City Hall and Albany.

“Many cyclists have the sense that they are not under the obligation to follow the rules of the road,” CB8’s transportation committee co-chair Jonathan Horn reportedly said last night while discussing the petition, so naturally the solution is to make it much harder for people to ride bicycles! This is by no means the first time such a proposal has come up (see examples here and here) and the chances of actually seeing cycling licenses are slim.

First off, the state is in charge of licensing, and outside of the SLA the state is not particularly interested in what community boards think. Secondly (beyond all the bike lanes the DOT has laid down in the recent years), the city has a very large and expensive disincentive to requiring licenses in its upcoming bike share program, a point that one resident made at last night's meeting. DNAinfo reports that Upper East Sider Mike Dillon told the board he isn't "crazy" enough to bike in town but that if he wanted to test the new sharing program, “I’m never going to wait in line for two hours to get a license to try my hand at it.” Third, policing cyclist licenses would be incredibly difficult (as has been proven in other municipalities that have tried it). Plus, you quickly hit the age old problem of children—are you really going to make little Dick and Jane get their trikes registered so they can bike around their block?

Not to mention the fact that such rules would really just serve to continue the out-of-balance power dynamic that currently exists on our roads. As one resident at the meeting, whose sister had been killed by a car while crossing the street, put it: "Requiring licenses would decrease the number of riders everywhere. And contrary to what people believe, that would not improve pedestrian safety.”

For now, activists are taking this latest threat in stride. Asked for comment on the committee's petition, Michael Murphy of Transportation Alternatives pointed out, "There are already laws on the books governing bicyclist behavior. The solution is to enforce existing laws, not add superfluous ones."