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