Should We Require Bicycles To Be Registered?

by Ethan Dante Bello

Imagine facing a $100 fine for the despicable act of riding your bike on a public street without a license plate. Can one truly envision a day when the simple act of cycling becomes a bureaucratic hassle?

That nearly became the reality for the people of New Jersey. NJ Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker proposed a bill on January 6 that would require all bike owners to pay a $10 annual fee for the registration of their bicycles. The penalty for all bikes caught without registration would face a $100 fine. However, she withdrew the bill yesterday, leaving cyclists free to ride without a plate.

But how would a bill like that proceed in New York? Certainly our government would welcome the extra funds dumped into state coffers, and there’s a case to be made that it would aide in tracking bike theft.

And the politician who brought it up made a point that surely resonates with Southern Brooklynites: safety of senior citizens.

Tucker, who received heavy criticism for her plate proposal, told the Star-Ledger that she proposed the bill based on the requests of senior citizens. Due to inconsiderate steering, several kids had crashed into the seniors, who have no way of reporting the accident because they could not identify the driver. Adding a plate number to the bike would allow pedestrians to distinguish the cyclist, much like a motor vehicle accident.

We’ve heard in the comments before that bike laws in our city should be more fiercely enforced, and even heard arguments that bicyclists should have insurance like auto owners. Though withdrawn, Tucker’s proposal does bring us one step closer to that reality – and the ensuing civil war between hipsters, yuppies and “car-crazed” outer-borough folk. Is that a good thing?