On Jan. 6, 2010, Democratic Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker of Newark proposed Bill A-3657, much to the dismay of many New Jersey residents. The bill, which proposes that bicycles ridden on public roadways or land in New Jersey be required to register with the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), according to nj.com.
Tucker has since then withdrawn the hastily introduced bill which would also require all bicycles in the state to display a license plates provided by the state, CBS reports. Highly criticized, the law would have required riders 15 years old and up to pay $10 a year to register their bikes and renew their registration every two years. Not doing either would subject one to fines of $100.
New Jersey’s residents were less than thrilled about such a proposal, as evident in the comments made on several websites covering the story.
The question is how would Long Islanders react to such a proposed bill? With cyclists of all ages on the streets all year long, in all types of weather, the law would undoubtedly affect many residents. Long Island is very accommodating to bicycle enthusiasts with groups such as the Mineola Bike Club.
Manager of the Mineola Bike Club, Barry Bworkin, says that such a bill does not benefit cyclists; “I don’t think my customers feel a need for that I don’t think there’s an outcry for [that law] from the riders,” Bworkin said, “One of the benefits of bike riding is that there really is no fee, bikes are fun, free outdoor activities.”
Though $10 seems like a harmless fee the cost not only ruins the (rare) freedom of a sport.
“It’s not like golf or something that it costs money to do, if you have a bike you can do it,” Bworkin said, “And not everyone can afford that fee. – Maybe if you have a not too expensive bike but some people have an $100 bike, they can’t be bothered with things like that.”
There has been speculation that the bill is simply a quick, easy way for the New Jersey to make money. A national advocacy group for bicyclists said that while bike registration programs are “an effective tool to recover stolen bicycles and hopefully deter theft,” the funds gathered by such programs should only be used to maintain bicycle databases or go toward improvements of facilities directly benefiting cyclists. However, according to Bworkin such databases already exist and effectively assist residents maintain their bikes’ safety.
“The third precinct here in Mineola has a service to help if your bike gets stolen or lost. You can register your bicycle and they have a database with the serial number that they can track down” said Bworkin.
Tucker told the Star-Ledger of Newark that the bill was proposed to benefit senior citizen pedestrians. New Jersey’s elderly folk apparently called the assemblywoman to complain about children riding their bikes. Seniors told her that they had been knocked down by bike riders but had no way to register a complaint because they could not identify the rider. Though Tucker withdrew the suggested measure on Thursday she is still looking for other ways to help protect New Jersey’s older pedestrians.
Though Tucker’s intentions were in the right place the consideration of biker’s needs and wants were clearly ignored. Also, the issue of actually putting license plates was most likely not addressed. “There’s not an affixed place on every bicycle to put a license plate where say cars come with a place for a license plate,” Meghan Cahill of the League of American bicyclists said, “You have to be careful, because there are very few places on a bike … to put something like that on there.”
Based on the many doubts and complaints about the usefulness and importance of such a bill it is safe to say residents of the tri-state area are glad to see such legislation be dropped. Bikers can continue to ride both cost and care free.