Cyclist license cycle

Round and round and round we go…

The city should pay a monthly stipend to cyclists, or maybe just offer them some discounts around town. After all, they're unclogging our roads, promoting a healthy lifestyle and staving off global warming.

What we shouldn’t do is force cyclists to purchase a license to ride. That's what Dartmouth councillor Gloria McCluskey wants the city to look into. She says it will help identify problem cyclists and the money raised will go towards more bike lanes. A staff report looking into the idea is to be requested at the next Regional Council meeting.

It’s a effectively a punishment for choosing active transportation. It’s also wholly unsustainable. Other cities have tried, and failed, to make this sort of program work. Toronto has considered such a thing several times, always rejecting the idea due to the difficulty in maintaining the program and the resulting poor public relations. Ottawa investigated the idea in 2011, finding that it would cost $100,000 a year to bring in $40,000 of revenue. Regina doesn’t enforce their bylaw, Ann Arbour revoked their licensing scheme after only 15 days, Portland’s rejected the idea four times over and Minneapolis dropped the program as well after administrative costs exceeded revenue.

What’s more Halifax has already decided this program isn’t worth the time or money. Licensing cyclists was on the books from 1936 until the ‘80s, when costs became too prohibitive to continue. The idea was brought back, and rejected in 2005. Then again, four years later, when staff found no value in the scheme.

On thing that Halifax could use is a voluntary bike registry as a way to deter theft—or at least a better marketed one. The city already has such a program, but it's fairly ad hoc. Cycling enthusiasts tell me it consists solely of keeping a record of your bike's serial number and a photo of yourself riding it. Info that can be forwarded to police as needed. Despite administering the program, Halifax Regional Police weren’t aware of its existence when I contacted them.

Assholes cyclists certainly do exist, just like asshole drivers and jerk-face pedestrians. But creating a burden on the least-impactful, most environmentally friendly transportation option isn't any sort of way to fix the city. If Gloria McCluskey does want to improve how cyclists navigate the roads, she (and you) should visit the Alderney Library on December 9 as the Halifax Cycling Coalition looks to start a Dartmouth-based working group for improving the dark side's bicycle priorities.

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