Tag Archive for bicycle registration

Morning Links: Bike-riding animal shelter burglars, bike rider attacked on Arroyo Seco path, and anti-bike bias in the news

Smile for the camera.

A pair of bungling bike-riding burglars broke into the spcaLA Pet Adoption Center in Los Angeles’ West Adams neighborhood, apparently looking for drugs before making off with a small safe.

Both burglars were clearly caught on security cams, one still wearing his bike helmet. Which raises the question, what kind of schmuck steals from a freaking animal shelter?

Thanks to Meghan Lynch for the heads-up.

………

Maybe the newly re-opened Arroyo Seco bike path isn’t all that safe after all.

A bike rider posted on Next Door about his encounter with a homeless man who tried to attack him with a steel pipe.

I’ve removed his name to protect his privacy.

This attack is no different than what riders have experienced on the LA River bike path, the Orange Line bike path, or along Ballona Creek. Or any other bikeway out of sight of the public.

While the pathways provide a route safe from the dangers posed by cars and their often distracted and/or aggressive drivers, secluded paths provide cover for those who would harm or rob bike riders and pedestrians.

Although to be honest, it doesn’t happen often.

But it does happen, and will keep on happening, until the LAPD, sheriff’s department and other police agencies finally figure out who the hell has jurisdiction on the paths. And begin regular bike patrols to keep riders safe, just as they patrol the streets in cars.

It also couldn’t hurt to provide better training for 911 operators so they have a clue where the bike paths are, and who has responsibility for policing them.

So the next time someone calls for help, they might actually get it.

Thanks to Harv for the tip.

………

No bias here.

Someone in Boston is warning about the vast bicycle lobby and non-resident conspiracy coming to take your traffic lanes.

They’re on to us, comrades.

Meanwhile, a WaPo columnist says bicyclists are pushing for stricter laws and enforcement in DC in an attempt to gain supremacy on the streets.

Rather than just, you know, stay alive.

………

More proof that registering your bike works.

………

Apparently, there’s a lack of functional bike racks in the South Bay.

………

Nope. Nothing odd here.

Nothing at all.

………

The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.

Once again, English police are looking for a man who leaned out of a car window and pushed a bicyclist off his bike into a hedge. This time, however, the grinning jackass was caught on camera, so hopefully that won’t be the only way he gets caught.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

A 25-year old Chicago man faces charges for spitting at a bank employee after being told the bank was closed, then throwing his bicycle to the ground before going back and punching an employee in the face. Evidently, it’s the only bank in the world that doesn’t lock its doors at closing time.

………

Local

Letter writers take the LA Times to task for recent stories about gas tax money being used for transit and active transportation projects, saying taxes from non-drivers pay for services for motorists, and alternative forms of transportation are necessary to fight climate change. They’re right.

The LA City Council approved a motion by CD14 Councilmember José Huizar to install a two-way protected bike lane on Main Street in DTLA, instead of the previously planned one-way lane. The new lane will complement the two-way lane a block away on Spring Street; construction should be finished next month.

 

State

The new coach of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is one of us.

Yet another payout for bad sidewalks in San Diego, where a bike rider received a $1.25 million settlement from the city for his injuries.

San Diego police are looking for the heartless coward who fled the scene after running down a 64-year old man walking his bike in an Ocean Beach bike lane, leaving the victim with multiple severe injuries.

A Cathedral City bike rider was injured when an 86-year old woman suffered an undisclosed medical emergency behind the wheel, crashing into him and continuing on before hitting another car.

A Bay Area writer says yes, some e-scooter riders are obnoxious, but scooters could help solve crippling congestion.

They get it. The San Francisco Chronicle says banning cars from Market Street will save lives, shorten commutes and improve street life; a rendering shows what a more livable, human-scaled Market Street will look like. Meanwhile, San Francisco Curbed asks what other streets should ban cars, and concludes, probably most of them.

 

National

Wired says the death of cars has been greatly exaggerated, as car ownership is climbing, despite predictions. No shit.

A Portland-area weekly says sell your car and buy and ebike, and promises it will change your life.

After suffering one too many concussions, former pro cyclist Scott Nydam is opening a combination bike and coffee shop in Gallop NM to help train young members of the Navaho Nation as bike mechanics and baristas; he’s already sponsoring a Navaho mountain bike team for middle and high school students.

Montana bike riders are recording roadkill to help officials find hotspots for animal crossings and fatal collisions. There’s an obvious joke there, but we’ll let it pass this time.

More on Iowa’s great RAGBRAI rift, as the organizers of the cross-state ride leave to form their own seven-day tour in a dispute with their longtime newspaper sponsor; fans fear for the future of the popular ride.

An Oklahoma City man was sentenced to 15 years behind bars after police chased him down for not having a rear light on his bike, and found a baggie full of a white powdery substance in his backpack — which turned out to be powdered milk, despite a false positive test for cocaine.

A Milwaukee hit-and-run driver was busted after he stole a bicycle to flee from a collision, then broke into an occupied house in a vain attempt to escape the cops.

An Illinois bike rider was lucky to survive a crash with the driver of a semi-truck who drove directly into him as he was crossing a gas station driveway on the sidewalk; remarkably, the driver claimed he didn’t know he’d hit anyone, even though the driver honked at him and he was directly in front of the truck. Be sure you really want to see the video, because it’s hard to watch someone get hit like that, even if he does get up afterwards.

An Indiana man is back home after a four-year bike ride around the world, or as he puts it, “a kind, generous earth.”

This is who we share the roads with. Two road raging brothers are under arrest for fatally shooting a St. Louis man in front of his four kids. Let’s hope those two never see the light of day again.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A 92-year old diabetic Cincinnati man is taking part in this week’s JDRF Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes; he’s already raised over $47,500 for the ride. I’ve already got the diabetes. And a bike.

Good idea. Pittsburgh bike riders are out to track drivers blocking bike lanes. Think of it as a bike count, but for scofflaw drivers.

Stealing a Pittsburgh man’s ebike is one thing. But taking his dog is just going too damn far.

A group of professional flat track motorcycle racers will take off next month on a six day, 580-mile bicycle ride down the Florida coast to raise funds for injured riders; they’ve already raised $5,000 of the too low $10,000 goal.

 

International

Your next bike could be covered in sawtooth bumps for better aerodynamics.

Cycling Tips asks if you could live with just one bike for a year. Shouldn’t be too hard, considering most people only have one. Myself included.

A Vancouver professor says yes, bike riders really do pay taxes, just like everyone else.

A partially paralyzed British Columbia man got his three-wheeled recumbent ebike back more than a year after it was stolen, thanks to kind hearted cops who dipped into their own pockets to get it back to rideable condition.

The parents of 19-year old Harry Dunn, the English motorcyclist who was killed in a hit-and-run by the wife of an American diplomat who fled the country after claiming diplomatic immunity, call a meeting with President Trump a stunt and ambush, after he offered to introduce them to their son’s killer with cameras waiting in the wings. And made it clear he’s not planning to send her back to face charges.

More Parisiens are riding bikes than ever before, thanks to new bikeways in the City of Lights, combined with a transit strike and more government support for bicycling. Someone should tell LA Mayor Garcetti and the city council that could happen here, too. And our weather is better.

 

Competitive Cycling

Former cycling scion Taylor Phinney announced his retirement, five years after suffering a career-threatening crash trying to avoid a race moto during the 2014 road race nats, just days after winning the national time trial title. He was told he might never walk again, let alone ride, but returned to win his third national time trial title two years later; unfortunately, though, he wasn’t able to recapture the road race magic that had made him a fan favorite. His last race will be in Japan this weekend.

Life is cheap in Australia, where the driver who killed 23-year old pro cyclist Jason Lowndes is unlikely to spend a single day in jail, despite texting just 68 seconds before the crash.

Bicycling says next year’s Tour de France could be one of the most unpredictable ever.

 

Finally…

If you’re going to attack strangers while butt naked, maybe choose a better weapon than a bike wheel. Nothing like a little used inner tube haute couture.

And this seven-year old gives a whole new meaning to “ride like a girl.”

 

Morning Links: An early endorsement for state senate, registration gets bikes back, and OCTA swims upstream

Getting a jump on next year’s elections, the Speaker of the California Assembly has endorsed former representative Steven Bradford for the state senate in next year’s elections.

Toni Adkins joins former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Senator Robert Hertzberg and Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez in endorsing Bradford.

And me, too.

Bradford is a bicyclist himself, and has worked in the legislature to improve safety for cyclists. Including sponsoring the first two attempts at passing a stronger version of the new three-foot passing law, which cleared the legislature before being vetoed by Gov. Brown.

It’s early in the game. But Steven Bradford has my unqualified support, having already proven himself to be an effective legislator.

And one of the good guys.

………

This is why I keep pushing the Bike Index bicycle registration and stolen bike reporting available at the top of this page.

In just the last two weeks, the site has helped 11 stolen bikes find their way back home to their owners.

It’s free, period. To register, report a theft, or check a bike against the list of ones reported stolen in the area.

And it could make all the difference if someone makes off with yours.

………

Just a week before the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish hurts his shoulder when it’s whacked with a camera by a too-close fan. Victory could be in the cards for Aussie rider Nathan Haas — literally — while Chris Froome risks being upstaged by his cat.

 

London’s Mail looks at how to get away with doping these days. Although that may not be necessary, if you can just get a support vehicle to follow you; a new study says that can be enough to affect the outcome of a race.

And writer for ESPN says women’s sports are boring and not worth watching; not surprisingly, women’s cyclists disagree. As does anyone who has watched women’s cycling for more than five minutes, or plans to watch the US take on Germany in today’s Women’s World Cup match.

………

Local

Ding dong, LaBonge is gone. LA’s most outgoing cheerleader led summer bike rides, but blocked planned bikeways on Lankershim Blvd, as well as 4th and 6th Streets, and was a driving force behind the unsafe and pedestrian-unfriendly design recently adopted for the new Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.

A writer for the Daily Bruin calls for a Westwood bikeshare hub to give students greater access to LA. Although they will still need safe places to ride.

CiclaValley looks at Sunday’s successful LA River Ride. I had planned to be there myself, but my health issues knocked me on my ass all day.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton talks with Richard McKinnon of Safe Streets Santa Monica about bringing data to street safety discussions. His group mapped 9,600 collisions over a 10-year period, and discovered less than fifty caused by cyclists.

Police bust a bike riding burglar perusing potentially purloin-able property in a subterranean SaMo garage.

 

State

A San Diego bike rider suffered minor injuries after he’s accused of running a red light in an early morning crash. The question is whether anyone other than the driver who hit him actually saw the victim go through the light. Because no driver would have an incentive to twist the facts, or anything.

A Santa Cruz cyclist really goes the extra mile — or more like a marathon — by riding back and getting his car to drive an injured bike-riding stranger to his home. Then replacing the man’s fluorescent lights and fixing his faucet and electric switches, as well as buying and mounting a new tire for his bike.

A San Francisco cyclist is on a one-woman mission to stop drivers from double parking in bike lanes. Maybe she could come down here next.

Bagdad by the Bay has become Bicyclists by the Bay, to the detriment of those poor, put upon drivers according one SF writer.

Streetsblog asks if a new bike lane in Orinda is the worst bike lane in the world; the lane directs bike riders to go straight between two right turn lanes, almost guaranteeing a high-speed right hook.

Remarkably, two mountain bikers are relatively okay after plunging 150 feet off a Marin County trail in separate incidents nearly seven hours apart, yet somehow landing in the same spot.

 

National

City Lab offers advice on how to hold onto your bike seat. And they take a look at that device developed by Chatanooga police to catch drivers violating the three-foot passing law.

A new bill in Congress would require the DOT to research new technology to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Las Vegas is fighting an epidemic of bicycling fatalities, with seven deaths this year compared to just one last year; four of those have been hit-and-runs. The story advises bicyclists to stay safe by walking across crosswalks, but has anyone ever done a study to determine if that really reduces risk?

Nice piece from Wichita KN, as cyclists surprise a riding buddy who suffered a massive stroke with a custom-made three-wheel ‘bent to get him back on the road. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

LA’s own Swrve is among the bike brands sponsoring musician Ben Weaver’s planned tour around Lake Superior next month.

A Connecticut driver faces a negligent homicide charge after left crossing a cyclist, even though the driver said he never saw him. Although the cops suspect the cyclist may have been speeding, based on nothing but speculation.

A new Delaware bill would encourage transit-friendly, walkable and bikeable economic development.

Boston may be the first proposed Olympic site without a velodrome, since no one seems to want it.

Athletes fight in every sport. But when bicyclists do it at the end of an Massachusetts race, it somehow becomes news.

As Philadelphia has become more bike friendly, surrounding counties have fallen behind.

New York’s Central Park goes partially car-free. Parks are for people, not cars — a lesson the people running Griffith Park still need to learn.

A New York cyclist shoots a TV quiz show, which could go national, from the seat of his bike.

New Orleans plans to narrow the massive neutral ground — aka median, to everyone else — on the city’s Napoleon Ave to make room for a walking path and bike lanes.

 

International

Two cyclists are competing against themselves and each other, riding a combined 150,000 miles in an attempt to break the year record.

An Ottawa writer gets it, saying there’s so much more to bike safety than just wearing a helmet. Note to Metro News: When you show a photo of a bike helmet, a caption saying it’s a bike helmet really isn’t necessary.

A handful of Canadian cities are building protected bike lanes; Montreal leads Saskatoon by 184 km to one.

The owners of a British trucking firm are banned from the business after an unlicensed and uninsured driver killed a cyclist while driving one of their trucks. Too bad we can’t hold business owners accountable like that over here.

A Brit bike rider is convicted of using “racially aggressive language” when a security guard tried to stop him from riding in a mall.

Bicycling could be the answer to providing care givers in rural areas in the UK.

France bans hands-free cell phone headsets, while Paris is making the massive roundabouts at seven major intersections safer for cyclists.

Burundi’s president may be controversial, but at least he bikes the vote. Even if his wife, soldiers and bodyguards had to walk behind him.

Injuries and fatalities blamed on Japanese bike riders have fallen dramatically, but authorities are cracking down on riders because the ratio of fatalities blamed on bicyclists has gone up. So it’s now illegal to hold an umbrella while you ride.

Instead of trying to make a car with two wheels, why not just build a better Korean e-bike?

 

Finally…

Why let facts get in the way, as Donald Trump evidently doesn’t understand the difference between a bike race and a bike ride, even though he used to sponsor one; the former, not the latter. A writer from my home state says bike lanes, potholes and marijuana are all part of a plot to force his city to go car-free; someone should tell him bikes need decent pavement, too.

And a seriously strange video from the Orange County Transportation Authority says don’t be a salmon.

 

Today’s post, in which I prepare to take license and piss people off.

Raise my fees. Please.

While I was otherwise occupied, both professionally and subject matter-wise, the topic of online conversation among my fellow L.A. riders turned to the sudden enforcement of the city’s long-dormant bike licensing requirement within certain police precincts.

Damien quickly picked up the story at Streetsblog, and confirmed that yes, it was true. Green LA Girl jumped in with instructions on how and where the deed could be done. Members of the Midnight Ridazz registered en masse, while Josef waxed poetic about registering his Flying Pigeon. And Will went out of his way to register his Giant roadie (I suppose if I had a Giant roadie, I’d want people to know, too.)

Which, I suppose, just leaves me.

I wasn’t shocked to find out L.A. has a bike licensing law. I’d heard rumors about it from time to time, but never could seem to find out any details. Even the cops I asked didn’t have a clue how to go about getting one. Or why anyone would bother, for that matter.

And therein lies the problem.

When the local police — who, under the law, are not only responsible for enforcement but also conducting the actual registration program — are unaware that bikes are supposed to be licensed in this town, something is seriously wrong.

As Damien points out, this is a state program; cities may or may not participate at their discretion. The stated purpose seems to be to aid in the recovery of stolen bikes by registering a description and serial number with the police.

However, the sudden selective enforcement in just some Los Angeles precincts would tend to indicate that the real purpose in bringing it up now is simply to provide the police with another tool for cracking down on unruly riders like the Ridazz.

That’s just one of my many problems with L.A.’s bike licensing program. Like the fact it’s almost impossible to comply with, for instance.

As things currently stand, there are only two places in this city of nearly 4 million people where one can actually get a license — on the campus of USC, and downtown’s Central Community Police Station, which offers the added attraction of riding your bike through skid row just to get there.

Then there’s the fact that the Central Community Station only offers licenses on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 10 am and 8 pm. And just to make things a little harder, you have to bring the bike with you.

Seems to me the unreasonable difficulty in registration would make a damn good argument if you were ticketed for having an unregistered bike.

However, some people have said that you can register your bike by mail through the City of Santa Monica, even if you don’t live there. That’s the option I’m going to try.

The bigger problem, though, is that this program is, by and large, meaningless. With a fee of $3 — a measly $1 a year — it’s not enough to make any significant contribution to the city or state coffers, even if every cyclist in the state complied. In fact, I doubt it even covers the administrative costs of the program.

Nor is the penalty for non-compliance, which I’m told is a whopping $10, enough to compel anyone to act. And to the best of my knowledge, whatever funds are raised simply go into the general budget, rather than benefiting cycling in any way.

So I have a simple suggestion.

Raise the fee.

A buck a year is just enough to be an annoyance, without being enough to do any good. So raise it to a more significant, yet still affordable, amount. Like $10, for instance. But require that every penny raised be dedicated to funding bicycling projects — and that the money be spent in the city it comes from.

The result would be that every city in California would have anywhere from a few thousand to a few million dollars to spend on improvements that would benefit local cyclists. And that couldn’t be spent on anything else.

But it could be spent on new bike lanes, or bike lockers, or repaving crumbling bike paths, or even red light triggers — without raising taxes or draining empty city coffers. And instead of wasting our money on a mere annoyance, we’d see the actual results of our fees on the streets of our own cities, which would do a lot more to encourage compliance than any penalty would.

It could also be run through the DMV, like registering any other vehicle — they might be a pain in the ass to deal with, but at least they know how to handle vehicle registrations, unlike whatever poor cop happens to get stuck with desk duty on Tuesday or Thursday. There’s also a DMV office in virtually every city in the state, often more than one, and they have the infrastructure in place to handle renewals automatically by mail.

Or course, there are other ways to handle it.

Just like with cars, the fees could be based on the value of the bike. There’s a reasonable argument to be made that I should pay more to license my two-grand road bike than someone should pay for a $250 Flying Pigeon. Even a 1% fee would result in a still relatively reasonable $20 per year for my bike, while that Flying Pigeon would only run $2.50, and an $8000 carbon fiber miracle of modern science would cost $80 — not much more than its owner would spend on a decent racing tire.

But whatever method we choose, we need to do something.

Because the current system is simply asinine. And it’s time our money went to something that would do us some good.

 

Hardrockgrrl survives her first journey through the Block of Death. And after dark, no less. Both Gary and Green LA Girl promote Westwood’s upcoming Bike Town Beta; she also offers 9 steps for bicycle happiness, which I missed the first time around. Damien offers the next step in reclaiming the Ballona Bike Trail with the upcoming Tour de Ballona (nice graphics, too). In news from the home state, Boulder holds the LAB’s platinum rating, which my old hometown aspires to. I believe L.A.’s current rating is rusted pot metal. Bottleneck Blog’s Steve Hyman discovers a bike rack miracle in Pasadena. And finally, Will drops in on the new Heliotrope Road home of Orange 20 Bikes.

 

Today’s post, in which I prepare to take license and piss people off.

Raise my fees. Please.

While I was otherwise occupied, both professionally and subject matter-wise, the topic of online conversation among my fellow L.A. riders turned to the sudden enforcement of the city’s long-dormant bike licensing requirement within certain police precincts.

Damien quickly picked up the story at Streetsblog, and confirmed that yes, it was true. Green LA Girl jumped in with instructions on how and where the deed could be done. Members of the Midnight Ridazz registered en masse, while Josef waxed poetic about registering his Flying Pigeon. And Will went out of his way to register his Giant roadie (I suppose if I had a Giant roadie, I’d want people to know, too.)

Which, I suppose, just leaves me.

I wasn’t shocked to find out L.A. has a bike licensing law. I’d heard rumors about it from time to time, but never could seem to find out any details. Even the cops I asked didn’t have a clue how to go about getting one. Or why anyone would bother, for that matter.

And therein lies the problem.

When the local police — who, under the law, are not only responsible for enforcement but also conducting the actual registration program — are unaware that bikes are supposed to be licensed in this town, something is seriously wrong.

As Damien points out, this is a state program; cities may or may not participate at their discretion. The stated purpose seems to be to aid in the recovery of stolen bikes by registering a description and serial number with the police.

However, the sudden selective enforcement in just some Los Angeles precincts would tend to indicate that the real purpose in bringing it up now is simply to provide the police with another tool for cracking down on unruly riders like the Ridazz.

That’s just one of my many problems with L.A.’s bike licensing program. Like the fact it’s almost impossible to comply with, for instance.

As things currently stand, there are only two places in this city of nearly 4 million people where one can actually get a license — on the campus of USC, and downtown’s Central Community Police Station, which offers the added attraction of riding your bike through skid row just to get there.

Then there’s the fact that the Central Community Station only offers licenses on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 10 am and 8 pm. And just to make things a little harder, you have to bring the bike with you.

Seems to me the unreasonable difficulty in registration would make a damn good argument if you were ticketed for having an unregistered bike.

However, some people have said that you can register your bike by mail through the City of Santa Monica, even if you don’t live there. That’s the option I’m going to try.

The bigger problem, though, is that this program is, by and large, meaningless. With a fee of $3 — a measly $1 a year — it’s not enough to make any significant contribution to the city or state coffers, even if every cyclist in the state complied. In fact, I doubt it even covers the administrative costs of the program.

Nor is the penalty for non-compliance, which I’m told is a whopping $10, enough to compel anyone to act. And to the best of my knowledge, whatever funds are raised simply go into the general budget, rather than benefiting cycling in any way.

So I have a simple suggestion.

Raise the fee.

A buck a year is just enough to be an annoyance, without being enough to do any good. So raise it to a more significant, yet still affordable, amount. Like $10, for instance. But require that every penny raised be dedicated to funding bicycling projects — and that the money be spent in the city it comes from.

The result would be that every city in California would have anywhere from a few thousand to a few million dollars to spend on improvements that would benefit local cyclists. And that couldn’t be spent on anything else.

But it could be spent on new bike lanes, or bike lockers, or repaving crumbling bike paths, or even red light triggers — without raising taxes or draining empty city coffers. And instead of wasting our money on a mere annoyance, we’d see the actual results of our fees on the streets of our own cities, which would do a lot more to encourage compliance than any penalty would.

It could also be run through the DMV, like registering any other vehicle — they might be a pain in the ass to deal with, but at least they know how to handle vehicle registrations, unlike whatever poor cop happens to get stuck with desk duty on Tuesday or Thursday. There’s also a DMV office in virtually every city in the state, often more than one, and they have the infrastructure in place to handle renewals automatically by mail.

Or course, there are other ways to handle it.

Just like with cars, the fees could be based on the value of the bike. There’s a reasonable argument to be made that I should pay more to license my two-grand road bike than someone should pay for a $250 Flying Pigeon. Even a 1% fee would result in a still relatively reasonable $20 per year for my bike, while that Flying Pigeon would only run $2.50, and an $8000 carbon fiber miracle of modern science would cost $80 — not much more than its owner would spend on a decent racing tire.

But whatever method we choose, we need to do something.

Because the current system is simply asinine. And it’s time our money went to something that would do us some good.

 

Hardrockgrrl survives her first journey through the Block of Death. And after dark, no less. Both Gary and Green LA Girl promote Westwood’s upcoming Bike Town Beta; she also offers 9 steps for bicycle happiness, which I missed the first time around. Damien offers the next step in reclaiming the Ballona Bike Trail with the upcoming Tour de Ballona (nice graphics, too). In news from the home state, Boulder holds the LAB’s platinum rating, which my old hometown aspires to. I believe L.A.’s current rating is rusted pot metal. Bottleneck Blog’s Steve Hyman discovers a bike rack miracle in Pasadena. And finally, Will drops in on the new Heliotrope Road home of Orange 20 Bikes.

 

Today’s post, in which I prepare to take license and piss people off.

Raise my fees. Please.

While I was otherwise occupied, both professionally and subject matter-wise, the topic of online conversation among my fellow L.A. riders turned to the sudden enforcement of the city’s long-dormant bike licensing requirement within certain police precincts.

Damien quickly picked up the story at Streetsblog, and confirmed that yes, it was true. Green LA Girl jumped in with instructions on how and where the deed could be done. Members of the Midnight Ridazz registered en masse, while Josef waxed poetic about registering his Flying Pigeon. And Will went out of his way to register his Giant roadie (I suppose if I had a Giant roadie, I’d want people to know, too.)

Which, I suppose, just leaves me.

I wasn’t shocked to find out L.A. has a bike licensing law. I’d heard rumors about it from time to time, but never could seem to find out any details. Even the cops I asked didn’t have a clue how to go about getting one. Or why anyone would bother, for that matter.

And therein lies the problem.

When the local police — who, under the law, are not only responsible for enforcement but also conducting the actual registration program — are unaware that bikes are supposed to be licensed in this town, something is seriously wrong.

As Damien points out, this is a state program; cities may or may not participate at their discretion. The stated purpose seems to be to aid in the recovery of stolen bikes by registering a description and serial number with the police.

However, the sudden selective enforcement in just some Los Angeles precincts would tend to indicate that the real purpose in bringing it up now is simply to provide the police with another tool for cracking down on unruly riders like the Ridazz.

That’s just one of my many problems with L.A.’s bike licensing program. Like the fact it’s almost impossible to comply with, for instance.

As things currently stand, there are only two places in this city of nearly 4 million people where one can actually get a license — on the campus of USC, and downtown’s Central Community Police Station, which offers the added attraction of riding your bike through skid row just to get there.

Then there’s the fact that the Central Community Station only offers licenses on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between the hours of 10 am and 8 pm. And just to make things a little harder, you have to bring the bike with you.

Seems to me the unreasonable difficulty in registration would make a damn good argument if you were ticketed for having an unregistered bike.

However, some people have said that you can register your bike by mail through the City of Santa Monica, even if you don’t live there. That’s the option I’m going to try.

The bigger problem, though, is that this program is, by and large, meaningless. With a fee of $3 — a measly $1 a year — it’s not enough to make any significant contribution to the city or state coffers, even if every cyclist in the state complied. In fact, I doubt it even covers the administrative costs of the program.

Nor is the penalty for non-compliance, which I’m told is a whopping $10, enough to compel anyone to act. And to the best of my knowledge, whatever funds are raised simply go into the general budget, rather than benefiting cycling in any way.

So I have a simple suggestion.

Raise the fee.

A buck a year is just enough to be an annoyance, without being enough to do any good. So raise it to a more significant, yet still affordable, amount. Like $10, for instance. But require that every penny raised be dedicated to funding bicycling projects — and that the money be spent in the city it comes from.

The result would be that every city in California would have anywhere from a few thousand to a few million dollars to spend on improvements that would benefit local cyclists. And that couldn’t be spent on anything else.

But it could be spent on new bike lanes, or bike lockers, or repaving crumbling bike paths, or even red light triggers — without raising taxes or draining empty city coffers. And instead of wasting our money on a mere annoyance, we’d see the actual results of our fees on the streets of our own cities, which would do a lot more to encourage compliance than any penalty would.

It could also be run through the DMV, like registering any other vehicle — they might be a pain in the ass to deal with, but at least they know how to handle vehicle registrations, unlike whatever poor cop happens to get stuck with desk duty on Tuesday or Thursday. There’s also a DMV office in virtually every city in the state, often more than one, and they have the infrastructure in place to handle renewals automatically by mail.

Or course, there are other ways to handle it.

Just like with cars, the fees could be based on the value of the bike. There’s a reasonable argument to be made that I should pay more to license my two-grand road bike than someone should pay for a $250 Flying Pigeon. Even a 1% fee would result in a still relatively reasonable $20 per year for my bike, while that Flying Pigeon would only run $2.50, and an $8000 carbon fiber miracle of modern science would cost $80 — not much more than its owner would spend on a decent racing tire.

But whatever method we choose, we need to do something.

Because the current system is simply asinine. And it’s time our money went to something that would do us some good.

 

Hardrockgrrl survives her first journey through the Block of Death. And after dark, no less. Both Gary and Green LA Girl promote Westwood’s upcoming Bike Town Beta; she also offers 9 steps for bicycle happiness, which I missed the first time around. Damien offers the next step in reclaiming the Ballona Bike Trail with the upcoming Tour de Ballona (nice graphics, too). In news from the home state, Boulder holds the LAB’s platinum rating, which my old hometown aspires to. I believe L.A.’s current rating is rusted pot metal. Bottleneck Blog’s Steve Hyman discovers a bike rack miracle in Pasadena. And finally, Will drops in on the new Heliotrope Road home of Orange 20 Bikes.

 

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