Skip to content

Bike Licensing: “Limited benefits and significant challenges”

January 16, 2012

Image via

From a report commissioned by Ottawa lawmakers comes the latest evidence that licensing cyclists isn’t worth it:

…the system would cost about $100,000 a year and would recover, at best, $40,000 in fees from cyclists.

Worse, it would impose a barrier on would-be cyclists, who would have to go through an extra layer of bureaucracy before they could legally ride, just when the city actually wants people to take to their bikes because they don’t significantly contribute to traffic congestion and put less wear and tear on roads.

“Given the foregoing limited benefits and significant challenges, and primarily based on the fact that bicycle licensing would act as a significant barrier to cycling, it is recommended that bicycle licensing not be implemented in the City of Ottawa,” the report concludes…

As in Ottawa, bike licensing in New York City would pose more questions than could be answered with the limited tools of government.  If the city required a license for all cyclists, would a person who commutes from New Jersey via the George Washington Bridge or a multi-modal commuter who uses a ferry need to have a license, too?  How would you deal with bike share users, tourists at Bike and Roll, or visitors borrowing a friend’s bike?  Do you license riders only or also require their bikes to be registered?  If so, would a person with multiple bikes need a separate registration for each one?  The list of questions would go on forever, as would the red tape.

  1. Eric McClure permalink
    January 16, 2012 9:42 pm

    Careful, you keep asking questions and you’re going to get a) a NATIONAL bike license required to ride anytime, anywhere, or b) a nice armband with a bike stencil that you’ll have to wear at all times, even when not biking.

  2. Lauri Schindler permalink
    January 16, 2012 11:33 pm


  3. January 17, 2012 10:05 am

    Instead of using so much money for licensing, I wish they would just spend it on an educational ad campaign. Apparently tons of people do not know that lights are the law, a bell is the law, and you are not supposed to ride against traffic. Or ride on the sidewalks.

    So many people think you can travel both ways in bike lanes on one-way streets.

    I would just love to see a huge education campaign.

  4. January 17, 2012 10:26 am

    Spoke to a fellow from Detroit over the weekend, an activist trying to encourage cycling among urban youth, at the Youth Bike Summit. He said cops in Detroit had been selectively enforcing a bike license requirement against kids on the assumption that they were drug couriers or lookouts for gangs. Just another form of mischief invited by licensing requirements.


  1. Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog New York City

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: