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Legislative committee wants ODOT to study bike licensing

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 21st, 2010 at 11:30 am

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They work for cars, but for bikes?
(Photo © J. Maus)

The House Committee on Transportation has put forward a legislative concept (soon to become an official bill) that would direct the Oregon Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the feasibility of bicycling licensing.

The idea currently exists as Legislative Concept 1581 (LC 1581). According to the LC draft language (PDF here), if passed, the ODOT would conduct a study on, "the feasibility of issuing bicycle licenses to owners of bicycles."

"... licensing system could work to the advantage of bicyclists by: (a) Using the licenses for tracing stolen or lost bicycles; (b) Using fees, if any, to fund bicycle infrastructure..."

The LC draft shows that perhaps the committee feels some sort of licensing system might be good for people who bike. Here's an excerpt:

"The purpose of the study is to determine whether a voluntary or mandatory licensing system could work to the advantage of bicyclists by: (a) Using the licenses for tracing stolen or lost bicycles; (b) Using fees, if any, to fund bicycle infrastructure, such as bike paths, bicycle lanes or any improvements that would assist bicyclists in commuting to work; or (c) Allowing planners to determine the number of bicycles in a city or community and the need to plan for future needs."

I think the idea might have some merit. If someone could figure out a fair and voluntary licensing system, it might be worth considering. Voluntary licensing might help thwart some of the anti-bike vitriol that stems from some people's feelings that bicycle riders are above the law, unregulated, and don't pay into the system like motor vehicles are required to do. Also, if the study shows licensing bikes simply doesn't work, it might mean the end of this idea once and for all.

However, that bike licensing is even being considered is likely to make a lot of people in the community very concerned. It could open a Pandora's Box: What if the study finds that mandatory licensing could work? What if lawmakers push for the idea as a way to raise revenue on the backs of a mode that currently subsidizes motor vehicles and that our state should be doing everything to encourage? What if this emboldens the "bikers need to pay their fair share!" argument?

It's also not yet clear how much money the study would cost (which could make it a non-starter) or who and how exactly the study would be conducted. This could get interesting. Stay tuned for updates.

— More legislation coverage at our 2011 Legislative Session page.

Correction: This article originally stated that this bill was requested by Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland) but I have since learned from his office that it is not their bill. I have edited the story and regret the error.

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Comments
  • K'Tesh December 21, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Over and over I hear that these programs fail to bring in the money necessary to simply run the paperwork involved.

    What's more, I've already got my own bike on the National Bike Registry. I paid $10 for a kit from REI, and my bike is logged into a system for theft recovery.

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  • Spiffy December 21, 2010 at 11:44 am

    wow, really? I mean, really?!?! haven't they seen all the other studies from cities across the nation that tried this already and failed?

    I understand that they want some sort of token fee to show auto drivers that we can be held accountable...

    instead of wasting money on trivialities they should be investing in driver education...

    that they are even considering this is a slap in the face of reason for every cyclist out there...

    but I will gladly pay for license plate if required and attach it to every bike I ride... but that means I'll start holding auto drivers to an even higher standard and will be recording and reporting them...

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    • El Biciclero December 22, 2010 at 10:52 am

      but that means I'll start holding auto drivers to an even higher standard and will be recording and reporting them...

      Heh. Good luck with that one... I already hold auto drivers to a standard of "don't kill me", but some of them seem to try anyway. With the Wild West mentality that seems to be creeping onto our streets, and the difficulty an ordinary citizen has in getting anybody held accountable for anything, I don't see bike licenses as anything that in any way will make cyclists seem "more legitimate" and suddenly induce drivers to exercise any greater care around bike riders than they already do. Many/most road users will continue to do anything they think they can get away with.

      Also, while I truly applaud any effort you might make in documenting and reporting bad/dangerous driver behavior, should it be incumbent on cyclists to buy, maintain, operate, (and protect from theft) expensive electronic equipment just to overcome driver and law enforcement prejudice against a particular class of road user? In the story itself and responses to this story we see that GPS units have come in handy not only to ensure the guilty (motorist) take responsibility, but that the innocent (cyclist) avoid punishment for daring to be on a bike at the time of a traffic altercation. Cyclists shouldn't have to have video/GPS evidence to back up stories that police would take as gospel if they came from the mouth of a driver.

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  • Mindful Cyclist December 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

    And this will fall flat on its face like the last time!

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  • No fees December 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

    People who ride bikes should be paid to do so. Seriously, tax or other incentives should be in place to see that more people ride, period. As we already know, it increases public health by increasing the fitness of the rider (by reducing hospital bills, for example) and decreasing emissions; bikes save space; bikes require less maintenance; bikes harm fewer people (and kill nearly none); bikes are lower impact, quieter, and need less infrastructure than cars. Bikes SAVE money. There are so many reasons to increase the number of bikers, everything should be done to encourage it. Let's start by offering a tax incentive to ride. $1000/yr. to everyone who rides more than 1000 miles per year. Let's run this by Jules!

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    • El Biciclero December 22, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Hear, hear. How about a grant to do a study on the true costs of driving a car. Just watch any morning traffic report on TV, and you will see a small, but glaring example of those costs. Count the flashing lights and measure the miles of stopped traffic brought about by a single "accident" on the freeway. I was delayed on my bike commute home the other night by a wreck that closed my main route, forcing me to detour a mile or so out of my way to find another safe alternative. And people complain that bikes slow them down...

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  • dennis December 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

    This is a non-starter. Bike licensing has too many issues. It's also highly unfair. Are they going to require stickers on shoes next for pedestrians (those sidewalks don't pay for themselves, ya know). This is only to make motorists feel better, even if it just proves one more "state creep" into our daily lives.

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  • Allan December 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I think a system like this could work to the benefit of bikes... if it were passed in conjunction with a ban on general funds going towards auto-transporation funds. if we want each mode to self-fund that's fine, and I would gladly pay the cost of driving when I drive and the cost of cycling when i cycle.

    It would be nice to get some acknowledgement that there is a huge history of subsidy and it should be righted by a large initial investment in non-auto modes, but even this I would be willing to agree is not needed simply due to the huge investment required to maintain all of the roads we've already built.

    I believe that this would probably need to be started at the federal level, but even doing a similar setup in Oregon I think could have its benefits.

    This proposal seems like its going nowhere, fast.

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    • Pete December 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

      While we're at it we could ban general funds going to bail out insurance companies, banks, and auto manufacturers too...

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  • KJ December 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I'm in intrigued. I like that this is a proposal to do a study. That means if the study shows, what time has already tested, that licensing is a waste of money, there is a study to back it up proving as much every time someone new whips out the 'bicycles must be license OMG tirade. it could be for our benefit.
    It could be a sneaky way of appeasing those who think this MUST happen by officially proving it's a non starter. Look we studied it, we tired. So hmm, we'll see. I'm skeptical but open minded.

    I'd rather see money be spent on comprehensive road user education (instead of driver's ed) for all citizens who wish to walk bike or drive on our shared roads.

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    • Nathan December 21, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      Agreed, KJ. I think cyclists have nothing to fear from this.

      It would be wonderful to have a study with ODOT's stamp demonstrating that a bike licensing scheme is impractical, and possibly even canonizing the fact that bicyclists as individuals tend to pay for more transportation infrastructure than they use. A massively botched study is not impossible, but it's highly unlikely.

      And if the legislature doesn't want to pay for a feasibility study, that should pretty well shut down any unstudied implementation of a bike licensing or fee structure in the near future.

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  • Coldswim December 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I need to start a company. I'll charge half what anyone else will and produce this study in a week. One week from now I'll show you every city that's tried this and what their results were. Just hand over, oh let's say... $200,000 and we can call it a deal.

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  • encephalopath December 21, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I would like the legislature to study the feasibility of using alchemy to cover the budget shortfall.

    Noone can deny that having ready access to gold would be of benefit to the state.

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  • Bjorn December 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I think maybe jules requested the study so that he could have data from the state agency that backs up the fact that this is a bad idea. Any unbiased study of the issue will come back negative on the issue. The BTA has several factsheets available on this one of which lists a number of places that have gotten rid of licensing recently because it doesn't work.

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  • Sean G December 21, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    While there may be some minor benefits to this bill (to quiet the bike registration crowd, and help with theft) it seems to me that the drawbacks are far more significant. Bicycles serve as a viable mode of transportation for the poorest among us, and they would bear the biggest burden of this bill.

    How would registration affect children, who don't have the option of cars? It almost seems like middle and low income families would be discouraged from buying their children bikes, especially as young kids tend to outgrow them quickly and presumably require a new registration every couple of years.

    Finally, using revenue from registration to fund bike improvements worries me, as this seems like a backdoor way to remove bike improvements from overall transportation funding. Not to mention, if there's enough revenue left over for improvements (which seems unlikely) it will only be because the registration fees are unreasonably high... which would quickly reduce the number of bikes on the road imo.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Just want folks to note that is not Rep. Jules Bailey's bill. The article originally stated that it was. I've made the correction and regret any confusion.

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    • matt picio December 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Oddly enough, the front page still shows "Jules Bailey", even though the article page itself does not.

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  • Biker December 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I would be glad to pay my fee, and along with others, get paid as that would only be fair. Of even if I had to part with $10-20 I would then expect to be treated like a vehicle and get my share of the road.

    I also think that a license to operate a bicyclist would be good, so that everyone knows the laws, and can prove it. But if that were to happen the drivers would also need to be tested to ensure that they understood bicycle law and their obligations. I find most drivers are clueless as to bicyclist rights.

    Then maybe we could even hope for the police to start ticketing all those people who run red lights, stop signs, speed, turn without signaling, etc. I suspect that this would capture 10 times more vehicles than bicycles.

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  • Evan Manvel December 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Not sure the year (2003?) but then-Rep. Marilyn Shannon and others (Wayne Scott?) looked into this and got the study (from ODOT?), demonstrating that it would cost more to administer than it would bring in. A fresh study is welcome, though, to remind people that bike licensing isn't going to bring in money.

    While I wish that the purported benefit of quieting the "bicyclists don't pay their way" would come from such a system, I don't see that happening.

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  • SteveG December 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I don't think this is necessarily a bad idea.

    First of all, the program could be entirely web-based, involving no government red tape, paperwork, etc.

    It could work something like this: You want to register your bike in Oregon? Go online, enter your bike's serial number, pay $15, and presto: your bike is registered with the National Bike Registry (maybe for a "bulk purchase" price of $5 instead of the retail $10), and the rest of the money goes into a bicycle infrastructure fund.

    This would silence the "license all bikes, they don't pay their way" crowd, raise money for better bike facilities, and give those of us who wouldn't mind contributing to this sort of fund and simple way to do so.

    If it's "opt in," at least (rather than mandatory), I don't think it would necessarily be a bad thing.

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  • Skid December 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Oh no, not again.

    I just want to know if the registration is transferable or if I will be expected to register all 7 bikes that I own, of which most are made from used parts and junk bikes.

    I don't see why we need to silence the "license all bikes, they don't pay their way" crowd, their whining does not take into account whether or not a cyclist owns a car. I already pay for the road with the car, and on top of that I would be paying many times more than the average one bike owner. Sorry I got all creative and built some silly freakbikes, nothing like being punished for creativity.

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  • Atbman December 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. 'Ere we go again. Please read http://www.toronto.ca/budget2005/pdf/wes_translicensingcyc.PDF for a comprehensive and thorough demolition of the idea.

    It wouldn't lead to better cycling. Please consider the effect of licensing drivers and cars on driving standards. If that worked as some forumers seem to believe, we wouldn't be logging on to umpteen forums to moan about driver behaviour.

    It wouldn't make it easier to stop and charge cyclists, since the existing laws are sufficient to do that.

    Unless the cost was enormous, there would be no surplus to spend on cycling facilities and the National Bike Register takes care of the bike identification problem in case of theft. In any case, what's to stop you taking a photo of your bike(s) and keeping a record of the serial number?

    Email your local councillor(s) with the actual document given above.

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  • peejay December 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    This initiative will fail to appease any of the self-righteous, ignorant anti-bike zealots. They'll claim that: the study was rigged if it shows that licensing would be ineffective; or that whatever fee is agreed upon is too low to compensate them for the burden of having to slow down and avoid killing us. I do not support this for the same reason I refuse to publicly denounce those cyclists who do not follow all traffic laws.

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  • Erik from Spokane December 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Bicycle registration would negatively influence my vacation plans.

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  • Andrew December 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I love the carrot of "to find stolen bikes" or "fund bicycle infrastructure!"

    Show me the specific designation that that money will go to bike infrastructure, and I might be willing to talk. But there's just absolutely no way this will happen in the next decade without at least some of the revenue going to carbon-emitting, child-killing auto infrastructure. Thanks, but no thanks.

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  • Refunk December 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Uh, I don't see how "voluntary" comes into the question. Automobile owners/operators don't have that choice, if they want to use public roads, do they?

    How then, would this address the cries of the cluelessly irate who blather about bike licensing/registration making bicyclists "more accountable?" Accountability is a question of physics and civility, beside respecting the social role of publicly-enacted law. Those who ride in a fog of self-entitlement seemingly only "respect" (belatedly) forces like steel car fenders and armed police issuing citations (and - maybe - their moms).

    Of course, history across the USA has repeatedly shown that such schemes hardly pay for their own admin let alone fund significant infrastructure. I believe Colorado Springs has the only mildly successful infrastructure-contributing system of bike registration which I've ever learned of. Almost every other program never held financial water and eventually tapered off in registrations until they were eliminated by whatever body legislated or decreed them.

    There is no tag (of whatever material - plastic sticker, metal plate, etc.) small enough to fit reasonably on a bicycle which would also be of any use to the bellicose motor vehicle operators who want to see something on a passing scofflaw's bike frame which they can read a license number off of for the purpose of shrilly reporting traffic infractions to the PPB via cellphone while they're driving. Even if there were, it would probably be covered up by flapping rainwear, some kinda PBR carrier, courier bag or whatever. Though I suppose such concerned citizens could always pull their SOV SUV over (blocking the bike lane) and harass eight year-olds into stopping long enough on the sidewalk to examine such a registration tag on their bike's frame...

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  • Pfeif December 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    What do you do if your bike doesn't have a serial number? I have a Landshark cross bike and it's one of a kind with no serial number.

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  • kellie rice December 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I would voluntarily pay for a bicycle license, BUT......someone ( an expert cyclist...hmmm) would have to observe me operating my "vehicle" and determine whether I was a safe and law abiding rider. Maybe that is something for ODOT to consider?

    For this license to be fully legit, I'd probably also have to retake my DMV written exam, but maybe it would have to ask more bicycle related questions? Thank goodness I have Ray Thomas' book!

    However ( and here is my gripe), if there is some sort of mandatory law that comes of all of this that cyclists need a license, then ALL drivers should retake their DMV written exam the next time their license or vehicle registration expires. Some might think that such a task would be too complicated, but if our schools can figure out how to give students their statewide benchmark tests online ( I'm a teacher), then the DMV could design some sort of program where folks who have expiring licenses or registration could go online, enter in their ODL #, and re-take their written drivers exam. At least half of the questions on their exam should involve laws protecting cyclists and pedestrians. I wonder how many drivers would fail??? If they can't pass their written test? No license for drivers!

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  • Rick Risemberg December 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    And how about out of town or out of state cyclists? Most states wisely don't require licensing.

    Besides, as others have implied in the comments, cyclists already OVERPAY in other taxes to support the driving subsidy. Nowhere in the US (or Canada or UK) do road, fuel, car, and registrations fees and taxes cover more than 60% of the cost of simply building and repairing roads--let alone the other more diffuse costs of driving. It's usually far less. Check out this analysis from the Texas DOT.

    Or root around at http://www.vtpi.org. Litman covers this enforced subsidy of driving pretty well.

    Basically, if you don't drive at all, you're being robbed to support drivers' little hobby.

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  • John Benton December 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Make a manditory helment law and license helmets for everyone over 16. You can then have as many bikes as you want, but a big number to identifiy the bicyclist on the back of his or her helmet.

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  • Bjorn December 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    @Evan Manvel I have to agree that it is naive to think that a registration fee will quiet the bike detractors. Lots of places have tried or continue to have compulsory bike registration, I can't think of any place where after registration the bike detractors suddenly decided that bikes paid there way, were great, and switched over to supporting bike infrastructure.

    Not gonna happen...

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  • Blue December 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    So, if bike registration becomes compulsory and if bike riders must get a license to operate their bikes, what's next? Mandatory insurance. The insurance lobby will push hard for this.

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  • Biker December 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    There was a recent TED lecture highlighted here that discussed the fact idea that helmets do not help bicyclists and are being pushed to scare people away from cycling. In Amsterdam most everyone bikes in the core and almost no one wears a helmet. The main reason I wear one is because I want a chance to save my head when hit by a big SUV, or when I get mixed up with %$(*#^&%@ rails from trains, street cars, or MAX lines. So, although I wear one, I don't think that helmets should be mandatory.

    We license drivers and vehicles because of the damage they can cause.

    And if we are going to all pay for what we get, then why don't we have huge fees for studded tires?

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  • Johnnie Olivan December 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Everyone is a bicyclist, this is why everyone should not pay this tax. Is cycling a privilege? If you have no feet and stranded without a hand-cycle it is.

    The dutch pay road tax daily, digital checkpoints all over the freeways and not just on bridges.

    This is separation of cyclist and driver. When will we realize we are the same?

    If you need to drive, Pay for it!!!

    Absolutely Preposterous to waste money on such tests!!

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  • Blue December 21, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman
    If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
    If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
    If you get too cold I'll tax the heat.
    If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.
    'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
    And you're working for no one but me.

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I'm in favor of this, only if enforcement measures are in place so I don't have to share the cycleway with dangerous morons.

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  • jim December 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Actually they will use the money from bikes to pay for sewer improvements, more bioswales, curb extensions... It all kind of goes together- right?

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    • are December 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

      gosh that's clever

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  • CaptainKarma December 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    The tea-baggers should be marching in the streets, eh what?

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  • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I have paid such fees in the past (Hawaii, Madison WI, Philippines, etc.) and generally heard locally that it placed the greater burden for implementation on the IBD retailer vs the big box retainers who ignored it (Honolulu). Used bikes rarely were renewed. Bikes turned into for repairs would have to be renewed before release - IHTO. Or the fee would be a lifetime fee - to limit the administrative costs.

    It will likely not be a very effective revenue source especially if used for capital projects. Hawaii State used it well to fund bike education at the 4th grade back before ISTEA etc became a big funding source. (My info is very out of date. )

    The cycling community could use this topic as an effective discussion point for a weight \ impact fee based license. To raise the fees for overweight SUVs or studded tire use.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Sorry - Ment to type IMTO not IHTO - in my technical opinion.

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  • Steve B December 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    This is great. With this study, I hope we can put the argument to bed once and for all.

    If one product of the report is a suggestion to create more Neighborhood-Improvement Districts for bikeways, to enable residents to pool resources for the betterment of their bikeways.. that would be cool!

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  • Opus the Poet December 21, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Are they going to pro-rate it by damage done to the roads @ 1/3000 of an SUV or 1/1100 of a Smart Fortwo? Or are they going to use the space on the roads issue and make it 1/16 of the SUV or 1/8 of the Smart Fortwo? The issue then becomes is this paying for construction or maintenance, because if this is a construction tax then you need to tax by space occupied, if it is a maintenance tax you need to tax by the damage done.

    Of course before you can do that you have to first get the "car taxes" up high enough to pay all the costs to build and maintain the "car roads", with a kicker to pay back the general funds spent by local governments for local streets plus interest. Then local general funds can be spent on things like fire protection (except for cars) and police (except for cars) and all that other "stuff" that taxes have to pay for but can't because they are being siphoned off to build infrastructure for cars.

    Now if they were to make it proportional to the taxes for commercial vehicles, a legal limit semi truck and trailer does 160,000,000 times the damage as a bicycle and needs to pay proportionally, even at only half the legal limit the semi still does 10,000,000 times the amount of damage as a utility cyclist coming home from the grocery store with a week's worth of groceries for a family of four even if he's a really fat cyclist. That was determined using the formula published by the AASHTO in 2002 for comparing the weights of vehicles and the damages done.

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  • Hot Rod December 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Anything the immoral, inept, criminal politicians can get enacted to steal a dollar from you to support the bankrupt city, state, or federal goobermint THEY WILL DO. As the economy sinks into the mire of GD2 they will be coming at you fast and furious from all directions. Get ready and hold onto your wallet.

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  • Hot Rod December 22, 2010 at 12:17 am

    This is classic goobermint ineptitude.

    I don't need licensing to help track my bike for at least a couple of reasons: 1) I'm not stupid enough to allow it to be stolen. 2) If it is stolen, I have the serial number and I'll report it to the fuzz, report it on this site, etc.

    I don't need to pay more fees to fund bike stuff. I already pay several thousand dollars per year to Ted Taxandgougeme - I think he has plenty of money if he'll just pull his head out of his xxx and spend it a tad more prudently.

    If the planners want to know how many bikes are using the streets they can spend 2 days out counting the bikes - then they'll know EXACTLY how many are using their bikes - bike licensing will give no clue to the actual usage since anywhere from 50 to 90% of bikes will be sitting in the garage on any given day!!

    This proposal is laughable!!!!!!!!!! HA! HA! HA!
    LMFAO!!!!!!!!! Goobermint ineptitude!! HA! HA! HA!

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  • BB December 22, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Motorists better prepare to pay a much higher cost to justify the need for cyclists' (b) option.

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  • Steve Brown December 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

    The proper way to kill this stupid idea once and for all is to morph this bill into a system where all vehicle registration fees are based upon the vehicle value with discounts for fuel efficiency. If someone wants to make it a pay for play system, let's do it right.

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  • kenny December 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Okay, if I am guaranteed bike only infrastructure, totally removed from cars like the cities that have the highest rider ship, then I will pay a fee to use my bike.

    Oh wait, even the best cycling cities in the world do not charge a licensing fee to bike.... they charge higher/realistic fees for cars to "encourage" cycling/alternative forms of getting around, discourage driving, increase funding toward those alternative transportation, and ultimately... protect those most vulnerable to dangerous cars. If cars were not the scary part/potential to kill/severely injure that they are, we would not need to do anything to make walking and biking safer.

    How do we control those folks that do not ride often but wish to on say a sunny day with the family? A nice ride to the park with the kids could end up being "Oops, sorry kids, we do not have that license plate on our bikes... looks like we need to drive". Dumb.

    Kids riding to school (also something to encourage for their health) may not be able to due to not having the plate/or fee paid. Many families cannot afford lunch for their kids let alone special fees to use your body power to go to school.

    Homeless folks with trailers and a bike? Guess we would have to fine them too.

    Then you have to police folks, send fines, hire staff, create the agency to run the program that brings in no revenue.... totally lame. People need to wake up and "think".

    If I had to pay a fee, I might just sell my car ll together. I use it 1500 miles a year "because" biking is an option. I pay the same registration and other road fees drivers do that do not bike, but I bike 90% more than driving. I pay the fees, but do not create the negative impact of driving my car much at all. Win, Win... for m...e and the non cyclists.

    The only somewhat realistic option I can think of is maybe taxing bike events, a reasonable fee that would go toward further enhancing the infrastructure for bicyclists. But even that would not bring in enough to justify creating the program to manage it.

    If folks have some deep issue with a few hipsters jammin through lights on fixies... then fixate on policing. Educate in school more, create a mandatory bike education class for students in elementary, middle, and high school (similar to biking cities with over 25% ride ship). Not this completely non functional license.

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  • beth h December 22, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I cannot accept mandatory licensing for a vehicle whose operator has little real protection under the current vehicle code.

    This is a law that, if passed, I will absolutely and willfully break.

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  • Biker December 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Driver and vehicle licensing were initiated because of the damage and deaths caused by cars and their drivers. It was a citizen lead call to make these deadly implements more accountable and to put controls on them. It was not done as a revenue source for roads or anything else. Most of the time, I would suspect, the licenses pay for little more than the handling. However Multnomah county has added a fee to help pay for the Sellwood.

    The benefits to having vehicle licenses was the easier identification of vehicles, either stolen or involved in an incident. If we license our bikes will their theft be considered more important than it is now. When a typical thief is captured, he/she is hauled downtown, recorded, and sent on their way. The penalty is loss of time and having to get a ride from downtown to whatever constitutes home. If they were put on a work crew or paid fines, I would be a lot happier. But I doubt if that would be part of the law.

    Since bicycles don't cause death by themselves that often and property damage is limited to the bike in most cases, there seems to be little need for having a license. If it worked in conjunction with the bike registry for stolen bikes,it might make sense. But otherwise it does not.

    However training for bicyclists and the law is something we need, as well as for drivers. I firmly believe that drivers need to be retested regularly and need to have questions related to driving with bikes. I would urge all bicyclists to go to the BTA bike legal clinics which are free and an excellent source of information. The more one knows as a bicyclist, the better you will be able to protect yourself.

    So after reading all the comments so far, I agree with most that there are no compelling reasons to have licenses and that implementing them would have no benefit for drivers or bicyclists. And it would not stop the critics. After all, they believe that all bicyclists are lawless, clueless, and borderline anarchists.

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  • suburban December 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    This study may require some power-point presentations and careful stake-holder input at poorly catered meetings.

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  • jim December 22, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    It's funny how a week ago when we were talking about putting an extra fee on car registrations to pay for a bridge you were all for it, Now they want a fee on bikes and you all cry foul. How hypocritical is that?

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    • No fees December 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

      Not if you're a complex thinker. You see, cars do far, far more damage to roads and people and the air than bikes, get it? Big, heavy vehicles, thousands of them, have driven over the bridge, so many, in fact, that the bridge is a danger. Can you say the same thing about bikes? Of course not. See the difference now? And most bikers still drive and pay car fees, and . . . I give up.

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    • wsbob December 24, 2010 at 12:46 am

      The extra fee on car registrations you refer to, is what was being proposed for Clackamas County residents, not cars in general. Those residents were being asked to offer help directly associated with their vehicles to help fund the bridge, because its the use of their vehicles on that bridge that is partly responsible for filling it to capacity during commute hours.

      Inefficiently so, because cars much larger than bikes and capable of carrying 4-6, or even more people, commonly are transporting only the driver.

      A person on a bike instead of driving a car means room on the road for someone else's car. A person on a bike instead of driving a car can also mean room on the road for four to six people on bikes. More people per square foot on the roadway moving means the road is more efficiently doing its job of transporting people.

      This is the point that seems to generally be lost in calls for road and bike and bike/pedestrian specific infrastructure funding secured through bike licensing fees.

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  • Lee Watkins December 23, 2010 at 4:52 am

    this concept was actually invented by the Nazis during WWII by the way, as means to control the Dutch primarily. In response the Dutch blew their locks and drowned the entire country. Because submerging the entire country under the ocean was far preferable to Nazi-style bicycle licensing. It's been a complete failure every place it's ever been tried since. Good luck with that.

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  • Anthony December 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I don't like taxes, I am out of money but the bloodsuckers still keep coming after me.

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    • Paul Johnson December 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

      Nobody likes taxes, however, they're a necessity to maintain our society and government, since the private sector is incapable of doing so. Rather than complaining that taxes are too high, we should be looking at the real problem: Our return on investment is too low.

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  • Pete December 23, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Add San Jose to the list of cities that recently voted bike licensing laws off their books as a pointless waste of taxpayer funds. Maybe we should complain that they didn't spend more money on a study to prove how pointless it was?

    The concept of mandatory registration 'to assist in recovering stolen bikes' is bizarre to me. That's not the primary reason auto registration laws are in place. I'm not forced to register my laptop or my smartphone, and they're more likely to be stolen than my bikes (plus I'd care much less ;). If serial number registration actually helped recover stolen goods you can bet there'd be a policy offered from Best Buy or Fry's (for a slight additional fee), or the existing free web sites that work with police databases would be more popular.

    I'm betting most city governments with bike licensing laws already on their books don't even know they're on there, much less their citizens. Laws that truly matter stand the test of time.

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  • Drew December 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Maybe they could do a study on the actual cost of driving, and the massive subsidies involved. And suggest gas tax increases according to the findings. Now THAT is a study which would not be a waste of time and $$.

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  • Hot Rod December 24, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    From above:
    "Paul Johnson December 23, 2010 at 10:32 am Nobody likes taxes, however, they're a necessity to maintain our society and government, since the private sector is incapable of doing so. Rather than complaining that taxes are too high, we should be looking at the real problem: Our return on investment is too low."

    Yes too much waste at all levels of goobermint, from the HOA to the Feds. For example, this proposed ODOT study on bike licensing: totally unnecessay waste of taxpayer dollars for which no positive outcome is possible - in a state (and nation) that is essentially bankrupt - this is one of millions of examples of why we are bankrupt. Goobermint is totally out of control and there is little backlash from WE THE PEOPLE. But basic arithmetic is going to put a screeching halt to it in the near future. $14 Trillion in debt and rising will end ALL goobermint fairly soon - unfortunately it will likely take a lot of WE THE PEOPLE out with it.

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    • Paul Johnson December 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm

      I stopped reading around the time you confused homeowners associations with the government.

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      • Hot Rod December 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm

        HOAs are local goobermint. If you don't think so, then it is you who are confused.

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  • Pfarthing6 December 25, 2010 at 11:49 am

    1. Voluntary registration would be worthless. As pointed out, there is already a Natl. Bike registry and most of us who ride commuter bikes daily aren't too concerned about theft.

    2. Bike infrastructure primarily benefits Autos, not bikes! If there were no cars on the road, bike lanes would be superfluous. Period.

    3. There are very few of us who don't own cars as well as bikes. Therefore, for the most part, we all pay for the roads, equally, and fairly. And I guess since I own three, I'm paying for two other cyclists who don't have cars. I'm down with that.

    And as mentioned, who pays for the side walks? We all do obviously. Pedestrian facilities are just as expensive as bike facilities. Why not license sneakers too, huh?

    4. Transportation infrastructure, even in our current economy, is outrageously expensive. None of the money specifically collected from cyclists would likely be enough to pay for anything significant.

    Instead, it would more than likely be another facilitator of divisiveness that drivers would use. They would expect that all bike projects be paid by those fees. It could even be used as an excuse to specify "no bikes" roadways. Since we don't pay for it, why should we expect to be able to use it?

    The bottom line: FAIL!

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  • Richard Campbell December 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    What is next, a study to look into the feasibility of licensing shoes? The funds raised could be used to pay for sidewalks and it would help return stolen shoes to their rightful owners.

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  • Hot Rod January 2, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Quoted in original story: "It's also not yet clear how much money the study would cost (which could make it a non-starter)"

    In fact, it could not be more clear: it will cost more than the goobermint has. The goobermint is bankrupt. They could not afford to pay $1 for this study.

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