Nunziata wants to license bikes

Where's your licence?

Fresh from Police Board budget discussions, Councillor Nunziata has wasted no time in raising the issue of licensing bicycles. According to the Sun, our councillor thinks licensing will help reduce ‘the number of fatalities we have on the streets’ (currently averaging around 2 annually).

This old chestnut has been raised in the past and is guaranteed to stir up a hornet’s nest of discussion, pitting car owners against cyclists. There’s a great punitive aspect to the idea, no doubt hatched when following a cyclist on a street which no longer has a bike lane. Trial balloons are a great distraction from real issues such as factory closures and police budgets, so why not?  It’s difficult to count the number of lives saved by cyclists’ improved health but that’s why some intelligent debate is needed.

Let’s look at another licensing debacle: domestic pets. Torontonians are required to license their cats and dogs, but most owners don’t bother. The money brought in from licensing just about pays for the bureaucracy needed to administer the program. Fees are $60 and $25 for dogs and $50 and $15 for cats (intact, neutered). Rob Ford even suggested doing away with licensing because of this lack of revenue. One wonders what the licensing fee would have to be to make bicycle licenses break even. The set-up costs for this program will be considerable, not to mention the army of bureaucrats needed. How many casual cyclists will cough up $25+ annually for the privilege? What about families and their children’s bikes? Will we turn more citizens into scofflaws? Will people become even more sedentary? You can bet that the last people to licence their bikes will be the ones who ride on the sidewalk and sail through stop signs.

It’s bad enough that bike lanes are being removed by the Ford administration. It is supremely ironic that the so called ‘home of the bicycle’ has a councillor who would like to put another nail in the coffin of cycling in Toronto.

3 thoughts on “Nunziata wants to license bikes”

  1. I agree that licensing bikes is a bad idea. It will be waste of time and money it won’t solve the problem. However I was knock off a couple times by bikers riding on the sidewalk. There needs to be more enforcement, education, and yes bike lanes or trails. Not sure if it’s true, but I heard talk of building a bike trail along the new GO train expansion. Half of it is built from downtown to Bloor. That’s a good idea.

  2. Frances Nunziata generously wrote an email to us explaining the rationale for this discussion of bike licensing:

    “The discussion around licensing that came out of a meeting of the Police Services Board has nothing to do with making it more difficult to cycle in this City. The Chief of Police, in his report on the enforcement of cycling in the City, noted that the lack of a licence makes enforcement of traffic offences as they pertain to cyclists difficult. Licensing bicycles would also make it easier for the police to return recovered stolen bicycles to their rightful owners. Police recover thousands of bicycles yearly which have to be auctioned off on eBay because no one comes forward to claim them. The Board members voted to ask City Council to look at creating a comprehensive bike policy for the whole city; this may or may not include licensing bicycles, but I can assure you that the development of such a policy would not be done without consultation with stakeholders and without carefully weighing the pros, cons and implications of any changes to existing practice.”

  3. With regards to Nunziata’s email, I suppose I can step in and fast track her decision process. One skill which unfortunately she lacks dearly.


    – The police can issue traffic offences easier [How so? Cops still ticket cyclists when they blatantly break the law.]

    – Stolen bikes can be returned [I’m sure any crook could easily etch off and identifiable characteristics of a bike such as a serial number. Or if she would go so far to imagine licence plates, those can be easily unscrewed.]

    – Would there be a cycling test? I suppose there would an aspect of job creation here. You can have bike instructors and examiners!


    – Punish people who want to bike to and from work, get fit, have fun with the family

    – Punish the ‘tax-payer’ (after all we are not humans) and waste millions on a boondoggle.

    – It is impossible to regulate and does not exist for a reason:

    “On February 4, 1957, City Council repealed the bicycle licensing by-law in the City. At that time, there was a communication from the Canada Cycle and Motor Company Limited suggesting the City use the services of the Bicycle Guild Incorporated to administer bicycle licensing.

    At that time, the City opted out of bicycle licensing, stating amongst other issues that “licensing of bicycles be discontinued because it often results in an unconscious contravention of the law at a very tender age; they also emphasize the resulting poor public relations between police officers and children”. Nathan Phillips was the Mayor at the time and it is his signature on the by-law amendment”

    This is the problem with these New Aged Fordian Right-Wing Bluco Kooks, they fail to realize that nestled in history is neatly printed answers to their fallible solutions. They might have a “doer” mentality, but they have a nack for doing the wrong thing.

    Well there it is fokes, I’ve saved Nunziata countless office hours of deliberation and “consultation[s] with stakeholders”. Cutting down on the gravy so she can get back to flip-flopping on issues such as closing libraries.

    – Branden

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