Bike licensing is dead

From the city's  Virtual Reference Library
From the city’s Virtual Reference Library

Politics has gone mad: crazy, populist ideas now regularly trample thoughtfulness and reason. You might be pleasantly surprised, therefore, to hear that city politicians did something smart: they killed a plan to license bikes.

Our own councillor, however, who has long supported licensing, continues—against all evidence—to champion this dumb idea.

Earlier this year, Stephen Holyday asked the city to look (again) at licensing bikes, although is has done so several times and even has a FAQ on the topic. In short, licenses lose money, kids ride, and licensing—despite all the knee-jerking—is quite unnecessary: cyclists can be ticketed just fine without a license. (I should know.)

In the course of the debate at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, another really good point came up: a license is a regressive tax on the cheapest and best transportation:


And that, of course, is the real reason reactionaries want to license bikes: they want to discourage cycling.¹

Politicians can have long careers giving people things they like and passing laws against things they don’t—never minding the facts or principle. Bicyclists bug civilians. I know why: it’s because we’re better. We’re faster, fitter, richer, and happier. Clearly, then, our smugness should be banned.

And yes, we are unpredictable. We are dangerous. Can I tell you something? I ride without a helmet. I ride the wrong way. I ride fast, with headphones in, weaving and taking up lanes when I want to. I cut cars off. I turn left from the left turn lane. I give bad drivers the finger. And I’ve been doing it for decades. Do you know how many people I’ve hurt?

One.

Myself.

The truth is this: cars are dangerous to other people. Bikes are not. Bikes are kind to other people. We need more bikes, not fewer. We need to encourage them, not license them, not tax them.

Let’s hope this is the last time we hear of any dumb licensing scheme.²


¹The rest of this post is edited from a comment I left on Facebook; I said it well then when I wasn’t tired and overworked.

²And don’t even start: if I hear one more time that cyclists should “pay their fair share”, I’m going to key a Caddy. That is such bullshit.

Drivers should pay for pollution. They should pay for foreign wars, climate change, resource depletion, coastal spills, urban sprawl, visual blight, noise, ruined neighbourhoods, starless skies and interrupted street hockey too.

You know what I need to make it downtown on my bike? 45 minutes, a handful of chips, and a dirt path.

Pay my share? Oh, gladly.

Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

4 thoughts on “Bike licensing is dead”

  1. I didn’t think it would go through and I’m happy with the result. I’ve been biking to work downtown (when conditions allow) since moving to Weston in 2014. My overall health has improved and I cycle to businesses locally instead of driving whenever I can.

    1. That’s great! Please share your route. I often go off the beaten path to get to Bloor. Cycling down Weston, although fast, is not a lot of fun really with all the traffic and some bad road conditions in sections.

  2. Well said. Cars are dangerous and polluting. Walking, riding, transit: when will these 21st century requirements be protected and funded??

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