Bike License Plates

Y’know, it didn’t take long for this stupid thing to get shot down. However, the fact that it was even an issue is so mind-bogglingly stupid that it boils my blood.  Seriously.

You guys heard about the law New York State wanted to make regarding bicycle license plates right?

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Michael DenDekker introduced this.

Here’s what was supposed to be the plan for it:

  • Plates would be required on an annual basis.  Yes, new plates every year.  Or at least renewing your plates every year.
  • For personal bicycles (so what you would normally ride) the initial fee would be $25 to get the plates and $5 every year to renew.
  • For commercial bikes (like bike messengers in NYC) the fee would be $50 initially and the bikes would need to have “casualty insurance.”
  • ALL bikes would have to pass a safety inspection (just like a car.)
  • Anyone under 18 would have a special mark on their plate.

Step by step, here’s what’s wrong with this bill.

$25 is a lot of money for a bicycle most people I know don’t even buy new.  Especially with gas at $4 a pop, people are riding their bikes because it’s cheaper.  This is definitely a way to deter that.

“Casualty insurance.”  Need I say more?  First of all, I’ve pretty much never heard of a pedestrian getting hit by a bike and killed.  I can understand injured, but many serious injuries means a serious crash and the biker is probably pretty damn injured as well.  Also, how would one acquire this insurance?  Through someplace like State Farm or Geico?  A lot of people ride bikes to avoid paying for things like insurance.  I know the insurance bit only extends to commercial bikes but what’s to stop them from making it mandatory for personal bikes?

Bike inspections.  Really?  Where would you get your bike inspected?  What’s to stop the places from doing what car mechanics do and charging you an arm and a leg to fix “problems” so that the bike will pass said inspection.  Where would you put inspection stickers?

Mark on the plate for persons under 18.  Good idea for teenagers driving, bad idea for the six year old on a bike.  Nobody in a car is looking at the biker anyway, much less to check the plate and see if s/he’s under 18 and therefore not someone you should run over.

DenDekker said that while it wasn’t apparent in the bills, persons under 18 would be exempt from it.

One of my biggest pet peeves though is how is this going to be enforced?  I don’t really see cops (especially Buffalo cops) pulling over people on a bike.  Do you fine them for it?  How much would be considered “reasonable”?  How would a police officer be able to check that the plates weren’t over a year old?  How about checking the inspection sticker?  ID to make sure you’re of legal age to need a plate?

Cops are stretched thin enough as is.  A lot of them don’t bother with petty traffic infringements anymore, much less adding on needing to check bikes.  What do you say to the 11 year old riding around his neighborhood?  “I see you have the under 18 tag on your plate.  Do your parents know where you are?”  Yeah right, like a cop is gonna care that much if the kid isn’t obviously doing something incredibly stupid.

The main intent of this bill was to get money into the state without having to raise taxes.  Unfortunately, New York’s government doesn’t learn from its mistakes.

Do any of you know or remember the Amazon Tax currently in effect in New York State?  I only know about it because I pay attention to the questions Turbo Tax asks when I file my returns.  The Amazon Tax is a tax on the residents of NYS that only comes up during tax filing season.  It states that anything that year bought online or out-of-state and brought into the state needs the NYS sales tax paid on it.  It was meant by Albany to bring in scores of money to help the state.  It doesn’t; not by a long shot.  Mostly because Amazon and other online stores refuse to add a sales tax.  It would have to be different for every state, and a major pain in the ass.  The Amazon Tax relies on the residents to claim what they’ve purchased over the past year.  Guess how many actually do?

However, New York residents do learn from its government’s mistakes.  Most of us didn’t take up arms during the Amazon Tax debate.  We figured it was too stupid to ever pass.  But because we stayed silent, it did.  This license plate law, however, was a different story.  Too many people knew it was stupid and spoke up, writing to the Assemblyman and such.  Like I did.

Because of our push, they backed down.  This is the way government should work all the time.

We’ve cleared this hurdle, but let’s hope nobody brings up anything this dumb again.  It’s a very counterproductive way to get people out of cars and onto bikes.  Bikes are better for your health and the environment, and yet you wanna put hurdles in the way of actually doing something good?  Shut up and sit down already.


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