Tag Archive for bike licenses

Morning Links: Another ill-conceived bike license letter, rough road to Arroyo Seco, and Santa Ana River bike open house

Here we go again.

A Cleveland driver and motorcyclist trots out the same old ill-conceived demand that bike riders should pay a fee for the use of the roads.

And says we should all have a license plate on our bicycles so we can be held accountable for our misdeeds.

Unlike now, evidently, when people on bicycles get tickets just like anyone else.

But maybe he thinks he’ll be able to read a small, bike-sized license plate at a distance, and call the cops to have them track down and arrest the rider for running a stop sign.

Even though most states prohibit police from making an arrest for a simple traffic infraction. And cops aren’t even allowed to write a ticket unless they actually see the violation themselves.

But maybe his real concern is that people who ride bikes need to pay our fair share for the use of the roads.

In which case every bike rider should get a rebate, since almost every adult bike rider already pays the same gas taxes and registration fees drivers do, because most of us are one.

And we all pay the same state and local taxes, which pay for the overwhelming majority of non-freeway roadwork. Whether or not you use more than a slim fraction of it, striped or otherwise.

However, if his concern is that we should pay for damage to the road surface caused by our lightweight vehicles, he should add some zeros to that check. Because bikes cause an infinitesimal fraction of the damage caused by a typical car, let alone a massive SUV.

This chart originated on the now-defunct Pedal Fort Collins website, now found on streets.mn. Thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up.

Granted, many people who ride bicycles could and should show better adherence to traffic laws.

Just like most motorists. And pedestrians, for that matter.

Never mind that mandating bike licenses creates yet another barrier to riding a bicycle, pushing people back into their cars and making traffic that much worse for everyone.

But sure.

Let’s require virtually unreadable and practically useless license plates on every bike. And cut everyone who rides one a fat check for their share of the roads.

Because it will make people like him feel better.

Oh, and he also wants you to have a mandatory stroke light on the back of your bike.

Because drivers just love being blinded by bright lights. And they don’t complain enough about the flashers we use now.

That’s the license on my old Trek, measuring a whopping 3″ by 2.5″. Just try reading that on a moving bike from several feet away.

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Maybe things aren’t looking so good on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path after all.

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Riverside and San Bernardino counties are hosting a bike day and open house on the Santa Ana River Trail this Saturday.

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Vice looks at the thriving brotherhood of New York bike riders — particularly from Harlem and the Bronx — who prefer riding on one wheel.

Or maybe standing on the frame with no hands.

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CONTROL > COMBOS 🛸

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Meanwhile, this New York ride out is exactly what has Long Island officials in a panic.

Maybe it’s less about what they’re doing on their bikes than who’s doing it.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes is all too real.

A Boulder CO bike rider tells drivers I know you hate me, but please don’t kill me.

Someone tried to sabotage an Arkansas century ride by spreading tacks across the road the night before, leading to complaints of at least a dozen blown bike tires that could have resulted in serious injuries. Or worse.

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

New Jersey police are looking for a trio of bike riding porch pirates.

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Local

Los Angeles marked California’s Clean Air Day with free LADOT bus rides and Metro bikeshare rides.

No surprise here, as bike theft is up at USC, with 37 bicycles reported stolen last month.

UCLA reaches its lowest drive-alone rate yet, as just under half of students and staff members commuted to campus alone in their cars.

Keep Pasadena Moving, the Rose City offspring of traffic safety denying pressure group Keep LA Moving, will conduct an online survey to determine what people in Pasadena think of upcoming traffic safety projects. Anyone really believe their poll will be fair, unbiased and scientific? I didn’t think so.

Caltrans has killed plans for the proposed High Desert Corridor Freeway, which would have build eight to ten traffic lanes through the northern section of LA County, along with a bike path and rail corridor. Maybe they can take the nearly $2 billion in savings and apply it to building bikeways in the rest of the county.

 

State

Business owners on San Diego’s 6th Street are complaining that new protected bike lanes mean there’s no place to unload supplies.

A San Diego man suffered serious head and spine injuries when he lost control of his motorized bicycle in the Barrio Logan neighborhood.

A new report from the Circulate San Diego nonprofit group calls for a Vision Zero program for the North County region.

A 53-year old woman is fighting for her life after suffering major injuries in a Ramona-area hit-and-run; police thought they had the driver’s license plate number, but the plate turned out to be stolen.

Oxnard police are looking for the heartless coward who ran down a 46-year old man on his bike, dragging him 100 feet under his car and leaving him in critical condition with major injuries. Thanks to Victor Bale for the heads-up. 

Mountain View approved an $81 million Complete Streets makeover of El Camino Real, including protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and new signalized crosswalks.

San Francisco bike advocates want to know if someone really has to die before the city finally gets around to finishing the protected bike lanes on Valencia Street.

Once again, bike riders are heroes, as a group of Roseville kids turn junior detectives and set out on their bikes to find a missing 97-year old woman.

 

National

Electrek takes a look at the new Tern HSD e-cargo bike, and likes it. But unlike most Terns, this one doesn’t fold.

Who knew there’s a nearly 3,000-acre wetlands park outside of Las Vegas — let alone with a 14-mile bike path?

Yet another example of authorities keeping a dangerous driver on the road until it’s too late. Or nearly too late, in this case, as a Utah driver faces multiple charges for fleeing the scene after hitting a six-year old boy and driving home with his bike still wedged under the car, leaving the kid with facial and skull fractures; the unlicensed driver had long list of traffic violations, including repeated failure to install an interlock device after a 2014 DUI.

A trio of Illinois priests are on a five day, 350-mile bicycle trek across the Peoria diocese to encourage young men to join the priesthood.

A Michigan Planet Fitness gave a new handcycle to a man who was paralyzed in a motorcycle crash so he can compete in a Detroit marathon.

Indiana is planning to build a 90-mile bike path through five counties along the Wabash River. Which means one day, you might be the famous Wabash Cannonball.

A judge has ordered the release of an Indiana man convicted of murdering a college student in 2000 after she went for a bike ride, ruling he had ineffective legal representation.

A Columbia University grad student has developed a sustainability index to rank 35 American cities. Needless to say, the LA area checked in near the bottom, trailing every other California city listed.

That’s more like it. A US senator from Delaware hopped on a bike for a tour of state bikeways to promote the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) of 2019. Maybe if every elected official would try that, we might actually get safer streets.

I want to be like them when I grow up. The Baltimore Sun talks with a group of spandex-clad Maryland seniors who are still riding their bikes in their 70s and 80s, including one man who’s still doing half centuries at 89.

 

International

Lime is launching an international influencer campaign, tapping local advocates to promote their e-scooters. And maybe bikes, if they still plan to have them.

Kids in Columbia’s second largest city say they live for gravity biking.

Tragic news from British Columbia, where 22-year old Canadian ski cross racer Mikayla Martin died after crashing her mountain bike while riding on a trail with a friend.

Life is cheap on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, where a driver faces just two years for killing a woman riding her bike as she trained for a triathlon.

The BBC offers a photo essay of bicycling women and non-binary people of every description.

A British driver got lousy 21 months behind bars and a five-year driving ban for fleeing the scene after speeding through a red light and slamming into a bike rider, leaving him with multiple fractures; naturally, he tried to blame the victim for the crash.

A distracted driver in Great Britain was sentenced eight years in prison for killing a bike rider while chatting on his cell phone and driving the wrong way on a one way street.

A 16-year old English boy is on trial for murder, accused of tossing a bikeshare bike into the path of a motorcyclist and causing him to crash.

 

Finally…

Some cycling fashion trends are best forgotten. When bike cops police them, rather than ride them.

And the next time you can’t remember if an LA roadway is a boulevard, avenue or street, just check this handy-dandy color-coded map.

Map by Erin Davis

Morning Links: Failing presidential candidate calls for licensing bike riders, and CiclaValley to open LA River segment

Not exactly the best way to establish your climate change cred.

The same day CNN held their series of presidential candidate climate change town halls, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, who didn’t participate, said he’s considering requiring licenses and registration for bike riders.

And if that’s not enough to force New Yorkers back into their cars, forcing bikeshare riders to wear bike helmets should do the trick.

“We have to think about what’s going to be safe for people first, but also what’s going to work,” the mayor said of the helmet requirement. “Is it something we could actually enforce effectively? Would it discourage people from riding bikes? I care first and foremost about safety.”

Although if he truly cared about safety, he’d start by banning motor vehicles from Manhattan. And taking steps to tame them everywhere else.

Questioning whether 4th tier presidential candidate is trying to undermine his own city’s bikeshare system, Streetsblog succinctly captured their take this way —

De Brainless: Mayor Endorses Meritless Helmet and Licensing Requirements for Cyclists

New York’s Daily News summed it up best, though.

Whether or not he moves forward with the license requirement, the mayor said he plans to crack down on cyclists who break traffic laws, despite little evidence suggesting that bikes are a menace to public safety.

Maybe just he’s hoping that attacking people on bikes could boost his presidential poll numbers up to a full one percent.

Mandatory bike helmet photo by malcolm garret from Pexels.

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CiclaValley’s Zachary Rynew will be speaking at the official opening of a new section of the LA River Greenway — aka the LA River bike path — at 10 am today.

Look behind the Coffee Bean if you want to attend.

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You still have time to call your state assembly member to urge the passage of SB 127, the state’s proposed Complete Streets bill.

CA Streetsblog breaks down exactly how Caltrans lied in an attempt to defeat the bill exaggerated its costs in their required estimate to state legislators by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog profiles new Caltrans Director Adetokunbo Toks Omishakin, saying he has a background in healthy living initiatives, Complete Streets and activite transportation with AASHTO, Nashville and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

So maybe there’s hope for the agency yet.

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A live streaming bike rider in an undisclosed European city suffered a “brutal cycling accident” when he caught a wheel in some railroad tracks and fell off his bike, suffering a boo boo on his hand.

Maybe they define brutal just a tad differently over there.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes seems endless.

A Stockton man is under arrest on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon for intentionally using his car to attack a bike rider, who was able to jump off just in time to avoid getting hit; his bike was not as lucky.

The New York man with a long rap sheet arrested for intentionally running down and killing a bike-riding burglar says he was just trying to get close enough to catch the man, and blamed the victim for maybe doing something to mess up his brakes and steering. No, seriously.

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Local

Looks like we won one for a change. Buried in an LA Times story about LA’s self-appointed anti-everything NIMBY extortionists Fix the City suing to halt the city’s Transit Oriented Communities program — which would stop much-needed affordable and market-rate housing — is the news that the group’s challenge to the Los Angeles mobility plan recently failed. That should free the city to finally get started on building bike lanes and safer streets. They should change the group’s name to something else with one more letter that also starts with F, which would be a hell of a lot more accurate.

Hats off to the Eastside Riders for installing a ghost bike for the still unnamed victim of the hit-and-run in South LA earlier this week.

Metro will start using automated cameras on the front of their buses to catch drivers illegally using the Bus Only Lanes. Maybe they could put them on all their buses to catch people parking in bike lanes while they’re at it.

 

State

A 78-year old San Diego man suffered life-threatening injuries when he allegedly rode though an intersection without yielding, and collided with an SUV. As always, the question is whether there were independent witnesses who saw him violate the right-of-way.

Speaking of San Diego, the city is proposing a road diet and bike lanes to tame dangerous Mission Blvd. It’s been 30 years since I lived down there, but Mission was a nightmare for bike riders and pedestrians then, and I doubt it’s gotten any better since.

The San Diego Reader rides the county’s 44-mile Coastal Rail Trail stretching from Oceanside to downtown’s Santa Fe Depot, though not all of it is paved.

Once again, a dangerous pass has taken the life of a bike rider, as a man riding in Fresno County was killed when a driver passed a semi and struck his bicycle head-on as he drove on the wrong side of the road.

The Stanislaus County town of Riverbank is adopting LA’s new permanent memorial signs to honor a fallen bike rider. With a little luck, maybe they will spread throughout the state.

Santa Clara County is considering a paved, 10-mile bicycle superhighway to encourage bike commuting.

Every first and second grader at a San Francisco school got a new bike, thanks to a Colorado nonprofit that’s given away 2,900 bikes to kids in low-income schools across the US. Make that 2,984 now.

 

National

Bicycling considers when, and when not to, wear bike gloves.

Financial website Market Watch considers the best bike helmets under $100. Which could come in handy the next time the stock market crashes.

Speaking of bike helmets, a new study shows drugs, alcohol and not wearing a helmet are frequent factors in e-scooter injuries — even though most of the injuries involved leg, ankle, collarbone, shoulder blade and/or forearm fractures, which bike helmets aren’t likely to prevent. And evidently, dangerous streets and bad drivers don’t play any role at all in e-scooter injuries.

Hit-and-run isn’t just an LA problem anymore. A Denver-area man was killed when his bike was struck by two separate drivers, both of whom fled the scene, three minutes apart; police found what they believe is the first vehicle Wednesday afternoon.

A Minnesota woman got a minor miracle when someone spotted her stolen bike for sale on Facebook, and she arranged to meet the seller so police could swoop in and make the arrest. Which is exactly the right way to do it, without putting yourself at needless risk.

A researcher at an Ohio university used kitty litter panniers on her bike to ride around town and prove that squirrels eavesdrop on birds to tell when it’s safe to come out and find their nuts. Those are the same panniers my brother is currently using on his epic bike tour down the left coast, though I don’t believe he’s planning to eavesdrop on birds, squirrels or anything else.

Forget parking. The newest argument against a bike lane bordering New York’s Central Park is that it would cause problems for carriage drivers and their horses. Because really, what could be more romantic than forcing bike riders to contend with impatient drivers?

Police are looking for a Florida man who rode up to a bike shop on his bicycle, then left it behind and rode off with a customer’s $11,000 bike that had been left for service.

Apparently tiring of telling kids to get off his lawn, an anonymous Florida columnist says bikeshare bikes are an eyesore, and it’s a bicyclist’s own damn fault for whatever it was that happened to him. Or her.

 

International

A British woman had been up all night before she killed a bike rider while driving back home; studies show drowsy driving is as bad, or even worse than, drunk driving.

If there’s a major bike race in front of your building, you might want to hide your rooftop cannabis garden; although under Spanish law, it may or may not be legal.

Successive groups of Indian bike riders rode around the world nearly a century ago, each one inspiring the next — despite encounters with elephant herds and Amazon headhunters. Or deciding to drop out and stay in America.

Tokyo considers a government proposal to sort-of require bike riders to carry liability insurance, but without a penalty if they don’t.

 

Competitive Cycling

VeloNews says it was mixed results for the US team at the Mountain Bike World Championships, marked by grit and close calls, but no results. Admit it, you didn’t even know the mtn bike worlds took place over the weekend. Well, I didn’t, anyway.

USA Cycling hired former Olympic silver medalist and world champion Mari Holden to coach the women’s road cycling team leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

 

Finally…

Nothing will encourage you to practice sprints like someone chasing you down the street waving a machete. What is it with bike-riding people — okay, men — wacking off in public lately?

And when your near drowning is captured on live TV.

When cyclists get hurt, drivers demand we get licensed

Evidently, you need to be careful riding in Simi Valley these days.

Regular reader Todd M. forwarded me a link to this article in the Ventura County Star, about a woman who was hit by a minivan while riding on Los Angeles Ave in Simi Valley on Tuesday evening. According to a brief follow-up, 21-year old Michelle Bagsby was hospitalized in critical condition.

Looking for more information about the collision, I also stumbled across the story of a driver who lost control while texting on Wood Ranch Parkway, jumped the curb, veered across the roadway, rolled once after crossing the median and slid to a stop on the opposite side curb — narrowly missing a father and son who were riding their bikes on the sidewalk. The father suffered a minor leg injury from the debris, but thankfully, both escaped more serious injury.

Yet, as usually happens, instead of focusing on the tragic injuries suffered by a young woman or the barely averted tragedy caused by a texting driver just days earlier, the comments  illustrated just how little compassion some people have for their fellow human beings.

Cities need to ban bikes on streets. Bike riders are pansies and most of them ride like they’re drunk. They should learn traffic laws and stop riding on the wrong side and swerving in and out of traffic.

This, even though the story clearly indicated that the driver and cyclist were travelling in the same direction — and there was nothing in the article to indicate that Bagsby did anything wrong.

Or was a pansy, for that matter.

And it only took the second comment before someone raised the usual arguments about licensing riders and requiring insurance to ride on the road.

My wife was hit by a bicycle rider which caused over $2500.00 in damage to her car. Since Bicycle riders under the law have the same rights as car drivers on the road and we (the tax payers) are paying millions of dollars to install bicycle lanes and other amenities for bicycle riders I think it would be a great idea if bicycle riders were required to have a bicycle riders license and of course insurance to be riding on the roads.

Never mind that most cyclists already have exactly the same drivers licenses many — though unfortunately, not all — drivers have. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the LACBC showed that over 99% of the coalition’s members are licensed drivers. And the same auto insurance coverage cyclists carry for their cars covers them on their bikes, as well.

We’ll also ignore the fact that the writer was more concerned about the damage to his wife’s car than any injuries that might have been suffered by the cyclist — as well as anything his wife might have done that may have contributed to the collision in some way.

Or maybe she was just another innocent victim of those darn kamikaze cyclists, hell bent on death and destruction.

Not to mention the fact that bike riders pay taxes, too. And licensed or not, a far greater percentage of cyclists’ taxes pay for the asphalt drivers seem to take as their God-give right than the relative pennies drivers pay for biking infrastructure.

Then again, there’s no point in letting truth get in the way of a little irrational hatred.

Meanwhile, another reader, Brent B., wrote to ask if any jurisdiction has ever required licenses for cyclists. (He also has an interesting idea for separated bike lanes, which I hope to share with you soon.)

While many cities and/or states require licenses for bikes, I’m not aware of any that test and license the rider. And the limited amount of research I’ve been able to do on the subject hasn’t turned up anything.

But nothing I’ve seen comes close to matching the extreme proposal from a Toronto writer, which calls for biannual testing and a $200 fee.

That’s $200 just to ride a bike on the gold-plated streets of Toronto, even though bikes cause minimal impact — and biking facilities cost just a minute fraction of what it costs to build and maintain the infrastructure to keep cars moving.

And Ontario drivers only have to renew their licenses every five years, with no additional test required until the age of 80.

Evidently, Toronto cyclists must cause a lot more harm and kill a lot more people than their fellow road users in the multi-ton four-wheeled vehicles. Or maybe they just have a lot lower standards at the newspapers up there.

Which is kind of a scary thought in itself.

Fortunately, these sort of draconian, counter-productive proposals have yet to gain traction among the more rational segments of our society.

But take it as fair warning.

One of these days, your right to ride may not come without a fight.

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Lots of bike-related activities over the next few weeks, so check back Friday night for more details. But in the meantime, make your plans for Sunday’s Brentwood Grand Prix; races start at 7 am, with categories for all ages and skill levels from kids and masters to Cat 1 racers.

And Friday is your last day to RSVP for the next Metro Bike Roundtable on Wednesday, August 11th.

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L.A.’s Mayor demonstrates that hosting a summit is as easy as falling off a bike, as he invites every cyclist who doesn’t have to work on Monday mornings to a Bike Summit on the 16th. The question is, will he make a brief appearance and leave, or will he actually stick around and listen to us? Some think he’s already failed; personally, I hope he’s planning on more than just another PR event or he’s going to have a room full of very angry riders.

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Save this one for future reference — LADOT Bike Blog offers Part 1 of a comprehensive look at where it is and isn’t legal to ride on the sidewalk in the L.A. area, with more to come; on the other hand, it’s usually not a good idea.

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Good sponsors Moving Beyond Cars to celebrate L.A.’s alternative transportation on August 18th. Malibu adds another traffic cop, but evidently doesn’t target cyclists. Riding in Riverside correctly reminds us that bikes may be cool, but they’re just part of a balanced transportation system. According to a CHP Spokesman, when car-bike collisions occur, the fault usually lies with the cyclist; yeah, no hint of bias there.

Las Vegas cyclists hold a memorial for the cyclist killed by a suspected drunk driver Tuesday morning. Sampling a bespoke three-piece suit for spokes men, and accessories for their female compatriots. A Spokane area driver intentionally hits a cyclist who insulted his girlfriend. Lance Armstrong helps unveil Colorado’s Quiznos Pro Challenge bike race. Meanwhile, doping accusations hit Levi Leipheimer, and things are not looking good for Lance as other riders appear to support Landis’ charges; thanks to George Wolfburg for the heads-up. The New York Times checks in on Colorado’s conspiratorial candidate for the loony bin governor; a Colorado pedestrian asks if cyclists can just obey the rules. First the iPod, iPhone and iPad, now is Apple preparing to introduce the iBike? The dangers of pedaling under the influence. A letter to the driver who tried to kill a Pittsburgh cyclist. A cyclist takes bike-hating drivers to task and calls for a truce; it’s a long read, but worth it — or you can settle for the two paragraph excerpt. The Senate Banking Committee votes to support livable communities, apparently on party lines as usual.

The British Olympian who was critically injured near Winslow AZ is making a remarkable recovery. A British cyclist is struck and killed while competing in a time trial. A soldier survives the Taliban, only to lose his life trying to avoid a pothole. Even when Brits get off their bikes, the police want a word with them. Where are the helmets for London’s new rental bikes; then again, some wonder why does it matter? Speaking of her fellow riders, a cyclists says teach those idiots to obey the rules and stop at red lights. After spending six weeks in a coma following a collision with a bus, a 54-year old man sets off on a 1,000 mile ride. A teenager recklessly rides into a pedestrian after assaulting two other boys — while out on bail. The Department of DIY moves north, as unauthorized sharrows appear in Victoria, Canada, while a cyclist in nearby Vancouver says Critical Mass brats deserve to be spanked.

Finally, a Chicago rider takes the lane, only to be informed that he’s not a car, much to his surprise.

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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