NJBWC Vehemently Opposes Proposed Bicycle Registration Law

bike_4_chai_dash_cam_picAs first reported on TLS, on January 6th, Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) introduced a Bill which, if passed, would require all bicycles ridden on public highways or on public land in New Jersey to pay a $10 registration fee every two years or face a $100 fine for each offense. The following is a response to the Bill by the NJBWC (NJ Bike & Walk Coalition).

 

NJBWC is vehemently opposed to this measure for a great number of reasons, as should all of you be also. And we all need to do something quickly to voice our displeasure, both to Assemblywoman Tucker and to your own representatives in both the Assembly and the Senate.  Impress upon them both your opposition and your displeasure that your elected representatives are being asked to spend time on something like this with all of the other issues facing our state.

 

 

We’ve read this measure in full, and have many questions:

  • Who is this measure designed to protect?  Our children? Many are already not getting enough healthy exercise as it is and now their parents will be asked to pay an unnecessary $10 tax so they can ride a bike?

 

  • Who is this measure designed to protect?  Our bicyclists?  Does the addition of a license plate to their bicycles make them safer on our roads?

 

  • Who is this measure designed to punish?  Our working poor, for whom a bicycle is affordable transportation to their jobs?  Do they need to pay this fee, or the fines proposed?

 

  • What is this measure designed to deter?  Bicycle tourism in New Jersey, when visiting bicyclists are faced with the prospect of being stopped on our roads and asked to prove they are not residents of our state and subject to this law?

 

  • Who is meant to enforce this?  Our already overworked police forces – now being asked to stop those bicyclists and check registrations, in addition to their other duties?

 

  • Does Assemblywoman Tucker perhaps think this is a viable additional revenue source for our state, when the costs of administering this program will far outweigh the registration fees?

 

Bicycle registration schemes have been proposed elsewhere, although possibly not as bizarre as this one.  They have also been successfully challenged elsewhere.

 

NJBWC has additional questions you might consider:

 

  • When a proposal for a three-foot safe passing law (a measure that actually might save a life) is stuck in the Senate Transportation committee, how can something like this be considered?  When we have been repeatedly told that any safe passing law has to be extremely simple and brief in language, how can a three page, complicated bill such as this be considered?

 

  • And perhaps the most important question of all – how can our legislators consider a bill that levies a $100 fine for non-registration of a bicycle and equate that with their reluctance to pass a measure that levies the same amount for violation of a proposed three-foot safe passing law.  Is the loss of a life equal in our legislator’s minds to an unregistered bicycle?

 

Please speak out on this today. Forward this newsletter to your friends. Please let Assemblywoman Tucker and your representatives know how you feel.  If we do nothing, and think that someone else is going to do it for us, we may find that this measure has become law.

 

We cannot let this happen.

 

You can reach Assemblywoman Tucker either by calling her office ( 973-926-4320) or by leaving a message for her on the New Jersey Legislature website.

 

To contact your own representative about this bill, use the same website.

 

When you contact Assemblywoman Tucker, or your own representative, you might consider the following talking points:

 

Bicycling as transportation – a significant portion of our citizens are not well-served by public transportation and many of those just cannot afford a car.  The bicycle gives them an affordable and reliable transportation option.  This tax (and that is what it is, despite being called a registration fee) and its prohibitive penalties are further burdens on already stretched paychecks.

 

Bicycling as healthy activity – many of our children, and adults as well, are dealing with the effects of obesity and obesity-related diseases.  Do we need yet another hurdle for someone to get on a bike and ride, helping both themselves and the environment?

 

Bicycling as recreation – our state has beautiful bicycle rides and routes.  Testimony to this are the many cyclists crossing into New Jersey from New York and Pennsylvania to ride.  Will they be so willing to ride, and spend money, in New Jersey knowing that they may be pulled over at any time and asked to prove their New Jersey non-resident status?

 

Bill Number A3657 as a safety measure – how much more safe will bicyclists be on our road by affixing a license plate to their bicycles?  If A3657 is intended in any way as a safety measure, better use of time and money would be to provide Complete Streets to our citizens.  The last time we checked, Newark does not have a Complete Streets law or policy.  A better use of time and money might also be a comprehensive bicycle safety education program in our schools.

 

Bill Number A3657 as a revenue source – The bi-annual tax of $10 will not come close to covering the costs of administering this program, nor the costs of enforcing it.  Are we to ask our already over-worked police forces to add checking for unregistered bicycles to their duties?  Our recession-stretched town halls to add one more administrative headache to their workloads?

 

Bill Number A3657 and potential legal issues– Mandatory bicycle registration has been tried in other jurisdictions.  An interesting case is Washington, DC, where the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) recommended that the Metropolitan Police Department abandon mandatory registration.  OPC noted strains on the relationship between the community and the police, citing problems with pretextual stops, perception of bias, and risks of racial profiling involved with stops of bicyclists on unregistered (no license plate) bicycles.  Note:  mandatory bicycle registration in Washington, DC was indeed abandoned.

 

Bill Number A3657 as a mandatory measure– Voluntary bicycle registration can be an effective tool to combat bicycle theft.  It can also aid in identification of crash victims, especially children.  A League of American Bicyclists (LAB) position paper on bicycle registration can be found here.  LAB supports effective bicycle registration programs that do not impose a significant financial or statutory disincentive to bicycling.  Bill Number A3657, with its $10 tax and attendant $100 penalties, represents, in NJBWC’s view, a “significant financial and statutory disincentive to bicycling.”

 

Please take the time to contact Assemblywoman Tucker and your own representative and make your opinions heard.

 

We stress one thing — be sure that your arguments are well-reasoned, rational and polite.  Our penultimate aim is to get this bill withdrawn, but the ultimate goal may well be to create an ally for biking of Assemblywoman Tucker.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. It protect the bikes from being stolen. The question is what stops an ilegal without docs or even with from stealing a bike?
    Another question will the cost outweigh the protection?
    I guess this needs more thought.
    In Switzerlasnd every bike needs aregistration & inspection from time to time. I think kids & adults may need some test also, there are many more bikes over there.

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