A bill sponsored by NC House Representative Jeffrey Elmore (representing Alexander and Wilkes Counties) would require all bicycles operated by persons age 16 and over to be registered with the state DMV and equipped with a bicycle-specific license plate for an annual fee of ten dollars per bicycle.
Although the suggested purpose of the bill is to raise money for bicycle projects, bicyclist advocates around the state were immediately critical of the proposal. Terry Lansdell, executive director of BikeWalk NC, pointed out that such programs usually lose money and create administrative headaches. “The bike registration fees don’t cover the costs of the registration process. It would overtax and overburden the DMV at this point,” Lansdell explained.
Enforcement of mandatory bicycle registration laws in other parts of the country has drawn criticism for targeting racial minorities and low-income communities, often as a pretext for searches and interrogations, and for impounding hundreds of bicycles often belonging to people with no alternative means of transportation.
The lack of positive revenue and problems with enforcement have resulted in abandonment of mandatory registration programs in most places they have been tried. [See “Why Bicycle Licensing (Almost) Never Works.”]
BikeWalk NC members are initiating dialog with members of the NC legislature to discuss this bill and alternative ways to increase revenue and promote public safety. BikeWalk NC will track this bill and provide updates as things evolve.
For more historical information about bicycle registration and licensing, and preferred alternatives, see
Bicycling: Privilege or Right?
Why Don’t You Need a Bicycle License?
Why Bicycle Licensing (Almost) Never Works
Don Berryann says
Adding Licensing Regulations on bicycles targets low income individuals and costs more to administer and enforce than the revenue it raises. There are many proof points on these facts. If this was a sincere effort to improve North Caolina’s bicycle infrastructure, it would have been instead a mandate that NCDOT commit a small percentage of all funding it receives to Bicycle Infrastructure projects (not Sharrows, but REAL infrastructure).
NCDOT talks “Muti-modal transportation” and “Complete Streets” but we only get paint on streets when work is done for automotive street projects, which is why bicycle lanes don’t connect to anything you could call a network.
I suggest all the Cycling organizations in the state band together to ask for a minimum of 0.5% of all NCDOT funding go to Cycling infrastructure projects for this next budget cycle.
WE McGill says
This is one of the finest examples of government over-reach I have seen in a while. More regulation. More taxation. More headaches. And for what?….does nothing for no one. Listen Raleigh: no more regulation. No more taxes (same as fees). Get out of our lives.
Ted Silver says
In addition to the great points already made, under North Carolina’s current state funding programs, bicycle/ped programs are provided at the lowest level of local funding and must be ranked against other local projects. Unless, whatever amount would be left after all expenses and fines ,and unless the money is clearly protected in the state budget as a line item, nothing will make it into a real bike facility, helmet or education program.
If Representative Elmore were truly interested in bike safety and education, especially for children, he would propose some changes to the method and ranking system currently used to provide money.
Roni Ellis says
And we know the push for this bill has nothing to do with safety or education.
Neel Keller says
I am the editor at the Outer Banks Sentinel newspaper in Nags Head and we are following the story of Rep. Elmore’s introduction of Bill 157. I filled out an email in your contact page, but am not sure it was submitted. So I would like to contact you here and ask for some information and feedback on this bill. I also saw a quote from your executive director, Terry Lansdell, in a story on this bill, and would like to speak with him as well if possible. My cell phone number is 252-216-6069. Office number is 252-480-2234. Thank you!