Update: Oct. 9, 2013 — Legislators abandon bike registration bill
Oct. 4, 2013 — The really bad idea of requiring bicycle registration and license plates has made it into a bill submitted to the Georgia legislature.
The bill by the three Georgia lawmakers doesn’t stop with registration, however. It puts new limits on how bicyclists can use the road, such as allowing only single-file riding and in groups of four or fewer.
Reports say that the three legislators from the Gainesville area north of Atlanta were influenced by a local constituent who runs a trucking firm.
If considered, House Bill 689 will come up during the 2014 General Assembly session which begins in January.
The bill was submitted by Republicans Carl Rogers, Lee Hawkins, and Emory Dunahoo. Although they promote it as a bill to make the roads safer, it’s clearly anti-bicycling.
Rep. Rogers told AccessNorthGa.com that he wanted to bring the interested parties together at a meeting scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 7 at the Hall County Government Building, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.
“Our hope is to bring everybody to the table – cyclists, property owners, the people that are struggling on the roads where these cyclists are.”
In a prepared statement, Rep. Hawkins explained:
While I do not support tag fees for bikes, it does address a recurring complaint of identifying those cyclist who are creating a safety issue for themselves and motorist who will be ultimately responsible for an accident. While the vast majority of riders are thoughtful and courteous of motorists and other bicyclists, there are those who are not so thoughtful, resulting in dangerous situations.
I have had complaints by individuals of bicyclists who attempt to prevent motorists from passing them by moving to the left as the car comes around them. I have personally seen this occur and saw the truck turn back so as to speak to the folks on the bikes. I live on a road which is often used by cyclists and 95% are single file on the right shoulder, causing no problems and enjoying the day. Frankly, I like to see them out and often wish I was one of them.
An Atlanta TV station contacted Jim Syfan, the owner of Syfan Logistics trucking company, who reportedly influenced the bill. He said:
“It’s not meant to stop anyone from riding. What it’s meant to do is create an identification process. [Most bikers] are nice guys, they’re people, but once in awhile you’ll get a guy that will ride in the middle of the road and flip you off. This is to identify the guys that are not abiding by the rules.”
Bicycle advocates at GeorgiaBikes! have come out strongly against the bill.
This legislation is bad. Very bad. It is poorly thought through and represents an unnecessary expansion of government that would penalize hundreds of thousands of law abiding citizens and visitors who are engaging in a simple, healthy activity. Plenty of laws already exist to regulate motorist and bicyclist behavior on the public roads.
They question its impact on children riding bikes to school, persons who ride bikes for economic reasons, and the bicycle tourism industry.
The legislation, House Bill 689, would require that owners register their bicycles; failure to do so would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine.
It also requires that bicycles display a 4-by-7-inch license tag. The license plate would have to be replaced if the bicycle is sold.
New rules of the road
Further, the bill prohibits side-by-side bike riding. It requires that bicyclists ride single-file, except on bike paths or bike lanes. Further:
Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall ride no more than four riders per single file line, and at least four feet shall separate each bicycle. At least 50 feet shall be maintained between each line of four riders at all times.
So, even pacelines would be illegal in Georgia.
This isn’t the first attempt to push single-file bicycle riding in Georgia.
Two years ago, State Senator Butch Miller, also of Gainesville, submitted a bill that would have required single-file riding. Advocates in GeorgiaBikes! and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition turned him around on the issue, explaining how two-abreast riding makes bicyclists easier to see helps ensure that motorists adhere to the 3-foot passing law.
In fact, the advocates convinced Miller to support Complete Street policies that promotes designing roads for bicycles as well as motorists.
Let’s hope bicycle advocates can prevail on Reps. Rogers, Hawkins and Dunahoo to abandon this wrong-headed measure and support other measures to make roads safe for all users.