It’s not a huge amount of money, but a North Carolina state legislator has introduced a bill that would require every bike owner 16 years of age or older in the state to fork over $10 annually for bicycle registration for every bike they ride on a city street. State representative Jeffrey Elmore’s bill would require bikes to carry license plates or pay a $25 fine for failing to register. The money gathered from the statewide registration would go toward “bicycle safety-related projects.”
Residents of a North Carolina community annoyed at an influx of cyclists riding their twisty, rural roads reportedly requested Elmore introduce the bill as a means of identifying cyclists who relieve themselves on private property, help themselves to apples growing on trees in the area, and who repeatedly clash with motorists. With the money from the registration fees, dedicated bike lanes would be built, well, somewhere, to encourage cyclists to avoid areas without a comparable bike infrastructure in place.
“All of our roads are built with a consumption tax,” Elmore said of the ways that gasoline taxes pay for road work, effectively, though likely unintentionally declaring the registration fees would be a form of bicycle taxation.
Critics of the idea point out that municipal bike registration fee programs have an abysmal track record, often costing far more to enforce than they draw in revenue. Typically a city will introduce a fee, expecting to generate revenue from it, direct law enforcement to monitor the program and issue citations to riders who refuse to comply, and then be overwhelmed by the amount of cyclists who never register, creating a nightmare for record-keeping and generating far more in costs to maintain the program than brought in through fee collection.
Plus, it can be considered a serious hurdle for disadvantaged cyclists for whom the fees are significant and creating more situations to put riders into direct and unpleasant conflict with law enforcement.
“[We work] to encourage cycling as a mode of transportation for youth and young adults, and this bill would discourage them and put a big burden on organizations like ours to find the funds to assist them with the registration process,” Kelly Cascaden, executive director of A Bike for Every Child, told Bicycling.
Photo: Coen van den Broek
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