State bike registration law proposed

neon bikesMichael DenDekker, a state Assemblyman from Queens, has introduced legislation that would require registration and license plates for personal bicycles (he's also introduced a separate bill for commercial bicycles that would require insurance coverage).

Registration would cost $25 for the first year, and $5 each year after.

Gothamist talked with DenDekker about the bills yesterday. From the interview:

I had various constituents contact me concerning bicyclists in the Woodside/Jackson Heights area that don't obey the traffic rules, that are driving down streets the wrong way, driving on sidewalks and actually being very reckless. And their concern is that when they do this there is no way to report them because there is no way to identify the bicyclists, per se, so that has been the reason for it. It's just natural now that we're investing so many resources into making this the new mode of transportation, which I'm all for, we're just going to need to regulate and register the bicycles so we know who everybody is who is sharing the road with us.

(Don't miss his thoughts on cameras for bike lanes.)

Under the "justification" section of DenDekker's bill, the Assemblyman argues that bike usage on streets has risen steeply (citing stats from two decades ago), and "... it is essential that the state of New York be able to identify the bicycle riders. The issuance of license plates will ensure personal protection for cases such as bicycle theft or bicycle accidents, to name a few."

A few municipalities around the country have tried mandatory bike registration laws -- with what appears to be limited success. Long Beach, California recently dropped its longstanding law, in part because of criticism after a bunch of cyclists were ticketed last fall during a critical mass ride.

Snarked Jim Tedisco today on his blog:

In the annals of bad bills, here's a real winner: a new bill from Assemblyman Michael DenDekker requiring license plates for bicycles. Really?!!!? Are 10 year-olds now going to have to stand in line at the DMV to get a license plate for their bike? If you have training wheels on your bike do you have to have a learner's permit? What's next: targeting big wheels, tricycles and skate boards?

DenDekker's bills have been referred to committee. We're guessing they'll be parked there for some time, perhaps permanently.

[via Gothamist]


If the cops don't ticket cars that "don't obey the traffic rules, that are driving down streets the wrong way, driving on sidewalks and actually being very reckless", what makes you think they will do it for bicycles? Idiot.

Keep your laws off my Huffy Banana bike!!

This deserves all the mockery and derision that we can muster.

I have to hand it to Tedisco on this one. He nails it with his blog post (right down to the picture).

It's a little early for an April fools joke...

I remember when I was a kid many, many years ago, we had to register our bicylces and place registration stickers on the rear fenders. I don't recall this ever being an issue, or folks complaining about central government control over our lives (and this was during the conservative 1950's McCarthy era, too.) It made our bike riding feel more adult for us kids and we kind of liked it. In today's tea party, libertarian, all-regulation-is-evil environment, DenDekker's bill is unlikely to go anywhere. But in an odd way, his bill did bring me back to those more carefree days of my youth.

What's next? Bar codes on our shoes for "walking"??????

Should Tedisco end every question with awesomeness?!!?

I think the real issue at hand is how we can make those who ride bicycles without obeying traffic laws responsible.

I believe that a similar law was proposed in NJ - it went down in flames.

oh boy! another genius idea by our politicians! i must tell you, if i'm out riding around town and i get stopped, that cops better be prepared for a confrontation. They better be looking for all the people driving their cars and talking or texting on their phones instead of little Suzie on her Princess 20" bike!! they would have to take me away in cuffs before i paid any type of fine. This may be the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard!

@Bob - I still have the metal license plate I had to buy when I lived in New Orleans in 1980. Had to buy a new bike (was a legal adult) and was required to keep it displayed on the rear.

Not saying we should do this, I think it's a Bad Idea. But there are other precedents to this idea and it'd be interesting to see how they faired.


If I thought having a bike license would grant me a safe ride on a dedicated bike lane, I'd be willing to fork over the money. But that is not going to happen.

What's next? A tax on air?

If NYS's goal is simply to generate cash, here's the plan:

-legalize and tax weed;
-tax the living s**t out of all millionaires and billionaires in the state;
-levy a surcharge of perhaps 1/20th of a cent on every single Wall St. transaction. What is Wall Street's trade volume on a daily basis? You do the math...

Problem solved.

Fortunately I already have a drivers license. Saves me $25.

What a great way to discourage more people from bicycling! Maybe, just maybe, we could invest in a better bicycling infrastructure first, or creating one at all, before charging people to use it?

I can also imagine the high-performance guys now. "That plate's going to add 2 ounces to my weight!"


I do think that an increase in bicycle usage does call for an increase in safety awareness and etiquette for sharing the road with vehicle traffic, I don't think that will come through licensing and police enforcement.
I think it would be much more effective to encourage safety and etiquette from within the cycling community.

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