Now here’s a REALLY BAD idea:
By Krisy Gashler • Ithaca Journal, link to original article
Anyone who rides a bike anywhere in the city would have to register it with the City of Ithaca or face a $10 fine, based on a law being considered tonight by Common Council.
Actual registration would be free, and the fine for riding a non-registered bike would be waived if the bike is registered with the Ithaca Police Department, City Attorney Dan Hoffman said.
The law would apply not just to city residents, but to anyone who rides in the city, including visitors, Hoffman said.
The purpose of the new law is to support and encourage bicycle riding, to assist in documenting bikes for planning purposes, to disseminate information to bike riders, and to facilitate the return of lost or stolen bikes, according to the Common Council’s resolution.
“I’m supportive of it just because of the basic premise of having bicycles returned,” said Alderman J.R. Clairborne, D-2nd, who chairs the Common Council committee that oversaw the legislation. Clairborne said his son has had two bikes stolen – the one that was registered was returned, the one that wasn’t was not.
Bicyclist Andrejs Ozolins said mandatory registration will only discourage people from biking.
“Requiring it is a totally far-out idea. I mean, there are thousands of bikes,” Ozolins said. “I can’t imagine actual compliance. It would be so partial it wouldn’t make any sense to begin with.”
Bicyclist Steven Powell said the law could discourage tourism at a time when the city wants to invite more visitors. “I think registration in general is a good idea to help the officials track down lost or stolen or abandoned bikes or that sort of thing. That’s a good idea. But bringing it about in a mandatory way with penalties does not seem like the best way to do it. I’d rather see an incentive given for people to register their bikes,” he said.
The police department already hosts a voluntary bicycle registration, Ithaca Police Chief Ed Vallely said. But they recover so many bikes, they have one entire garage dedicated to housing them, and they hold a yearly auction to get rid of the bikes that are never claimed.
“For me, the bottom line is to help people get their property back (and) address the issue of us having a whole garage dedicated to just bicycles,” Vallely said. “Officers are very, very busy and I’m not sure they’re going to be ticketing bikes. I mean, there are a lot of other significant issues taking place and no one gets ticketed for everything every time, as is the case with cell phones, as is speeding, as is everything else.”
Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson said in the Chicago suburbs where she grew up, bicycle registration was mandatory. However, Ithaca’s highly transient population could make a mandatory registration here more problematic, she said. “I think at this point, I do think there are some questions. I’m not ready to vote for it myself,” she said.
Ozolins praised the city for its pro-bike work on things like the new East State Street bike lane and the Cayuga Street sharrows, but urged Common Council members to drop the mandatory registration and focus on “things that make bicycling more attractive, easier and safer.” These could include more bike lanes, completing trail projects, and installing more covered bike parking, he said.