Few times, it has been observed that the matter of licensing the cyclists and registering bicycles have arrived in the media. The issue is put forward mainly by the politicians. The argument revolves around the comparison of the motorists and the cyclists. The stress is on the probability of obligation for the cyclists to buy private registration plate for their respective cycles. But, it shows little merit as it is believed that the registration or licensing would be harsh, expensive and an extra blockade to cycling which is considered as unnecessary.
Argument 1: Cyclists must pay their share through registration:
A very common misconception is that the motorists pay for construction and maintenance of the roads via user fees like licenses and vehicle registration. From this misapprehension, an argument has aroused that the bicycle facilities such as bike lanes should be paid for via user fees.
The main share of the transportation budget arrives from the general fund of the city like the property taxes that every resident pays irrespective of the fact that they drive, walk, cycle, use transit, etc.
The province collects the driver licensing and vehicle registration fees. These fees are used up on the provincial highways, and nothing reaches the city. In Alberta, approximately $154 million are accumulated from the passenger vehicle registrations each year. It merely covers lower than 7% of the $2.5 billion transportation expenses of the province. Many cyclists own personal cars and are licensed drivers. Hence, a bicycle registration or a cyclist licensing fee would consider as penance for selecting active transportation.
Roads are meant for the public. In fact, they must not be paid for only by the people using them, but by everyone involving the cyclists. The cyclists pay more than their road costs’ fair share.
Example, in Calgary, as per the 2011 Cycling Strategy, there is a call for the capital spending of approximately $5 million per year for the upcoming four years. That is approximately 0.8% of the entire expenditure of the transportation capital. It is ½ of the fair share of the cyclists.
With regard to the operating expenses, the expenditures of around $2m for the cyclists per year amount to a lesser degree than 0.3% of the expenses for traffic, parking, transit, etc. of the city. Calgary has 6,700 km of roads, of which less than 0.4% have bike lanes.
Majority of Calgarians love to cycle. The transportation plan of the city shores up more active transportation. As per research, the societal advantages of cycling are less traffic congestion, better road safety, reduced noise, and air pollution. In comparison to the motorists, cyclists are healthier and more productive.
Argument 2: Licensing aids in making the cyclists lawful:
It is a common misconception that cyclists tend to break traffic laws. So, if they are licensed, they can be more law abiding. If their bicycles are registered, they can be ticketed. No evidence is available proving that the group of cyclists disobey the traffic laws often than other vehicle drivers.
Let’s take Alberta. The current traffic laws in Alberta are already applied to the bicyclists. Bylaw Services and Calgary Police enforced these laws. The cyclists get tickets. The cyclists get tickets for violating the traffic similar to that of the motor vehicle drivers.
The main intention of licensing car drivers is to render a mechanism for eliminating dangerous drivers from the public road. If the car driver is found to be improper unworthy for the public road, then it poses serious warnings to the safety of the people and property. The bicycle riders don’t pose a threat of the same level. Also, there is no need to regulate them in the same manner, especially when the cyclists are bestowed with the right infrastructure.
Proper education concerning cycling can obtain safer roads without generating an obstacle to cycling as obligatory licensing does. In the US and Canada, no jurisdictions presently require special licenses for the bicycle riders.
Argument 3: Bicycle registration can lower theft:
Licensing the bicycle riders as individuals is not going to reduce theft. A mandatory registration system for the bicycles may enforce an unnecessary barrier to the cycling that will add extra expense for the cyclists to maintain. Currently, there is a voluntary bicycle registration system present for the cyclists of Canada like Bike Revolution.
There is still a doubt that the cyclists will be happy to have to deal with private registration documentation and the expense of buying number plates.