Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

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Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby kovan » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

A local city councellor has suggested that cyclists should be licensed, which, unsurprisingly, is being met with harsh criticism from cyclists... But is it really such a bad idea? Even if the fees are very nominal, $50 or $100 per year say, I think it would go a long way to making cyclists into more legitimate vehicles and improving the enforcability of traffic citations.

Personally I think it's a good idea - after all if a driver of any other vehicle causes an accident, damages another vehicle, or hurts somebody they have insurance to pay the expenses that many could not afford. But cyclists don't. If they caus harm or damage - who pays? Could most cyclists afford to lose a personal injury suit? Could most cyclists afford to fix a door on a new car should they run into one through their own negligence?

It seems like cyclists are in this quantum state of being both vehicles and pedestrians at the same time. I think it's time the laws reflected one direction or the other - if they are not vehicles they do not need to be licensed but they should stay out of roads for vehicles, if they are vehicles they should be licensed and have to follow the rules of the road or face traffic violation citations like everyone else.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Azrael » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:00 pm UTC

kovan wrote:A local city councellor has suggested that cyclists should be licensed, which, unsurprisingly, is being met with harsh criticism from cyclists... But is it really such a bad idea? Even if the fees are very nominal, $50 or $100 per year say...

I currently pay $29 a year for an inspection and $35 for registration. I think your idea of a nominal fee for a bicycle are significantly too high.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby kovan » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:07 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
kovan wrote:A local city councellor has suggested that cyclists should be licensed, which, unsurprisingly, is being met with harsh criticism from cyclists... But is it really such a bad idea? Even if the fees are very nominal, $50 or $100 per year say...

I currently pay $29 a year for an inspection and $35 for registration. I think your idea of a nominal fee for a bicycle are significantly too high.


I was pulling numbers out of the air - but consider I pay $1500 per year for insurance $75 per year for registration and $80 every 5 years for my license as well as gasoline taxes it's really very nominal.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby sophyturtle » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:25 pm UTC

Would this only apply to cyclists over the age of 18? Because a large portion of persons under the age of 16 ride bicycles as their primary independent transportation system.

Also, the amount of damage a bike does when it hits something, not that much actually. Like, I saw someone get hit by a bike the other day, and he was surprised. That was it. The biker apologized, and they both went on their way. I have a coworker who rode into a door because someone in a parked car opened it right in front of her. No damage to the car, but a broken wrist for her.

I do not see why insurance is needed, or how registration could be in any way implemented.

Also, you pay for gas but I pay for food. Since I am the motor for my bike, that is comparable fuel. Just saying, I pay a bunch for food and fluids.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Azrael » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:46 pm UTC

kovan wrote:... but consider I pay $1500 per year for insurance $75 per year for registration and $80 every 5 years for my license as well as gasoline taxes it's really very nominal.
So that's $1500 a year to a private company and a consumption tax on the consumable ... you're still only paying $91 a year to government to have your car.

sophyturtle wrote:Would this only apply to cyclists over the age of 18?
New right of passage for 5 year olds? Right after you parents take the training wheels off, down to the RMV for a license?

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Rinsaikeru » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:54 pm UTC

Perhaps this would apply to adult cyclists who are riding on major roads as opposed to children (who in my area tend to ride on sidewalks or at the park.) Not that I think they should pay needless fees--and really I see lots of negligent and dangerous bike riding in Toronto.

Bikes cut off pedestrians and cars all the time. They run red lights, they never signal turns. They ride without helmets etc etc etc.

If a bike hits a child or elderly person I can tell you they won't just be suprised.

Of course cars also are negligent of cyclists--but I wouldn't say cyclists are innocent of any and all wrongdoing on the road.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby sophyturtle » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:52 pm UTC

I don't think anyone was saying that bicyclists are saints. But what seems to have worked best around here is bike lanes. People stay out of the road (and use the break down lane when the bike lane turns into it), and many use turn signals (the hand signals they teach in driver's ed). I think around here bikes signal about as much as cars do. People drive without their seat belts too, some people simply do not take personal safety as that much of a big deal.
The cops around here also stop bikers who are behaving dangerously (like riding on the sidewalk) and will give out tickets

And yes, a bike could cause damage. So could a jogger or me walking fast and not paying attention. And if we are talking about a person who might likely break something simply falling down (like an old person) then yes, they will be hurt by a bike.

The idea of a yearly fee for doing something that decreases wear on the roads, decreases traffic congestion and pollution, less back ground noise, and improves the health of inhabitants seems counter productive to me. Cars are one of those super deadly things. Bikes, less so.

There are many ways to improve car/bike/pedestrian relations, and part of that is recognizing that they are all different modes of transportation. Here they each have a place where they belong, and have different rules. This seems like the best solution to me, not treating bikes like cars financially but without giving them the rights cars have. bad idea I say. Bad idea.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Carnildo » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:02 am UTC

sophyturtle wrote:Would this only apply to cyclists over the age of 18? Because a large portion of persons under the age of 16 ride bicycles as their primary independent transportation system.

Around here, city streets are divided into two groups: arterials (major streets with a speed limit of 30), and side streets (minor, often residential, with a speed limit of 25). I'd say that if a person of any age wants to ride on arterials, they need to pass a "rules of the road" knowlege test and get a license. Riding anywhere else (side streets, bike lanes, bike trails, etc.) wouldn't require a license. Without a license, you could still get around town, you would just need to cross arterials as a pedestrian (get off the bike, wait for a gap in traffic, and walk the bike across).

If nothing else, it would reduce the number of incidents like last night where a bicyclist ran a red light and almost plastered himself against the side of my car.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Griffin » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:07 am UTC

I think this is probably one of the more horrible ideas I've ever heard. Bikes are cleaner, safer, and less costly for the government to provide services for than any motorized vehicle. A large number of riders are children. They contribute to exercise and fitness, which most people already don't do. And you want the government to out of its way to discourage it? Because, honestly, getting things registered is a lot more expensive than the price. It costs time - usually time that one would normally spend at work, on account of that being the only time government registries tend to be open. And most of the people I know who DO use a bike as their main means of transport do so because they can't afford anything else. Such a registration would just be another unreasonable cost for them.

The reason they dont need insurance is because as a general rule, people dont get hurt by bicycilsts! Sure, it happens occasionally, but even if you do get hurt it probably wont be terribly serious.

Bikes cut off pedestrians and cars all the time. They run red lights, they never signal turns. They ride without helmets etc etc etc.

Except every example you cited is pretty much a danger to the cyclist and the cyclist alone - and theres nothing that says you need to be self insured even for cars. (you need the insurance that covers damage you could do to others, but not on your self)

It seems like cyclists are in this quantum state of being both vehicles and pedestrians at the same time. I think it's time the laws reflected one direction or the other - if they are not vehicles they do not need to be licensed but they should stay out of roads for vehicles, if they are vehicles they should be licensed and have to follow the rules of the road or face traffic violation citations like everyone else


Or maybe the "law" should figure out that bikes aren't cars or walking people! Many cities have - they build bike lanes and the 'problems' people have with bad bikers seem to miraculously drop to almost nothing. Give them a place where they can belong and you wont have them getting in other peoples ways.

final Note: I currently ride my bike as often as I can and as a major method of transportation. If such a law was passed locally, I'd simply sell my bike and drive - it honestly would not be worth the hassle or the money (which I'm in precious short supply of anyways).

If nothing else, it would reduce the number of incidents like last night where a bicyclist ran a red light and almost plastered himself against the side of my car.

so it would reduce the number of incidents were something almost goes wrong? REALLY? You think being registered actually means things like that wont happen anyways? Despite the fact I doubt you were in any danger at all from it.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Enuja » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:15 am UTC

Azreal, what entity do you pay for insurance and inspection?



The amount of damage that a car can do is enormous. Yes, I could kill someone by running into them or by bicycling into them, but it is considerably more difficult than to kill someone by driving into them. Bikes are not just a smaller, cheaper version of a car. They are radically different things. So, no, bicycles and bicyclists should not be licensed or insured.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Plasma Man » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:17 am UTC

Forcing cyclists to get licensed or insured would be really bad idea. A lot of the reasons for this have been given already, but I would like to come back to Carnildo's point about arterials and side streets. I don't think needing a licence to ride on arterials would be workable. I was cycling to school from the age of 10 and the only viable route involved cycling along major streets.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:53 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:Azreal, what entity do you pay for insurance and inspection?

A private insurance company and the State of Massachusetts (registration, license & inspection), respectively.

To be fair, I also pay my local municipality an excise tax -- let's call it $100 a year or so. Still, my pay-to-the-government fees are low enough that any proposed combination of a bike license/registration would be excessive if over $10 a year.

And it's still a terrible idea.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Enuja » Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:53 pm UTC

Azreal, I may have misunderstood you: I thought that you were saying you payed these prices for your bicycle: are you instead talking about annual fees for your car, in addition to insurance?

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby DSenette » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:43 pm UTC

Except every example you cited is pretty much a danger to the cyclist and the cyclist alone - and theres nothing that says you need to be self insured even for cars. (you need the insurance that covers damage you could do to others, but not on your self)
that's a bit silly...if a dude on a bike runs a red light in front of you in your car...are you just going to continue on your path? or are you going to slam on your breaks and/or swerve to miss them? same if they cut you off on the road...or if they're riding on the sidewalk and they run into you...you don't have to be an elderly person to be hurt by someone on a bike and it's a bit naive to assume that the only people who could be seriously injured by someone on a vehicle that's moving faster than they are and is made of metal would be the elderly or children...have you ever had someone run into you on a bike moving at a good clip? plus the bike hitting you doesn't have to cause the injury...say the bike hits you and you're startled by it and you lose your balance and fall into traffic and get hit by a car?
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Enuja » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:19 pm UTC

DSenette, do you believe that pedestrians should be licensed or insured? Because pedestrians can and do create dangerous situations that cars avoid. Bikes go faster, so can appear unexpectedly more easily, but, by the same token, they go faster, so they get in fewer car's way as they cross the street illegally than when pedestrians cross the street illegally, and they more easily fit into the lane design and expectations for cars than pedestrians do. There are a lot of sidewalks and other infrastructure that reduces car-pedestrian interference, and simliar infrastructure for bikes is quite rare, making it seem like bikes are more problematic for cars than pedestrians, but they really aren't. I'd like to be clear here: I'm not actually advocating huge amounts of new infrastructure: I'm actually interested in the Shared Space idea of removing rules and expecting all road users to react to conditions instead of rules. But those road users include pedestrians, and I don't think that pedestrians or bicyclists should have registration or walking/biking insurance.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby DSenette » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:03 pm UTC

oh absolutely not...i don't feel that cyclists should be licensed either...or REQUIRED to have insurance...but it would be nice if there were a structure in place to allow cyclists to have cycling insurance to cover themselves or others in the event of an accident...

i just think it's silly to assume that you can't seriously injure or kill someone else if you're riding a bike....i once saw a guy in an electric wheel chair run someone off the side walk and she got hit by a car...how did her medical expenses get covered? if she didn't pay for it (or her medical insurance if she had any) then she would have had to sue the guy in the chair to get anything...which would have taken forever and probably not resulted in any real payment..
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Azrael » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:30 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:Azreal, I may have misunderstood you: ... are you instead talking about annual fees for your car, in addition to insurance?
Correct, for my car.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:38 pm UTC

Beyond providing insurance for injuries to the biker, which is likely covered by personal insurance anyhow, I feel safe in assuming that the damage bikers can cause to their environment (pedestrians, cars, etc) is astronomically less then damage bikers receive from their environment. Beyond providing a mutual program to ensure biker rights, which again, is something that is either provided in personal insurance anyway, or by the city/not at all by the city, I can't imagine this being very useful.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby EnderSword » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:49 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:i just think it's silly to assume that you can't seriously injure or kill someone else if you're riding a bike....i once saw a guy in an electric wheel chair run someone off the side walk and she got hit by a car...how did her medical expenses get covered? if she didn't pay for it (or her medical insurance if she had any) then she would have had to sue the guy in the chair to get anything...which would have taken forever and probably not resulted in any real payment..


I think this is why its a bad idea...Anything could cause injury or something, could be a bike, rollerblades, skateboard or you could do it walking etc... requiring seperate insurance of lisencing for these things would be excessive.

However cars are more prevalent and more likely to cause more expensive harm...

i once saw a guy in an electric wheel chair run someone off the side walk and she got hit by a car...how did her medical expenses get covered?


I'd imagine the car insurance paid for it since she was hit by the car.

If a Bike hits your car door, again, your car insurance pays for it. If a bike hits a person, that person's insurance pays for it. You may end up suing the person actually at fault after the fact, or more precisely the insurance company does, but your insurance is supposed to be paying for all these things.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby DSenette » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:50 pm UTC

well....if you've seen the news lately....most people don't have personal insurance in the US because personal medical insurance is ridiculously expensive...however everyone has car insurance (well...everyone who drives legally) and you can get car insurance for a small amount of money that covers a large amount of medical expenses and damages to equipment....i can get motorcycle insurance for $60 a month that covers me for $50k in medical coverage...i would imagine that you could do the same for bicycles (if it were offered) for a lower price (since you don't have to cover a large amount of money for actual physical equipment damage)
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby guenther » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:57 pm UTC

As someone who commutes by bike to work, I was going to write how I don't like the idea, but that seems to be the general consensus. I can't see how this would be useful.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby DSenette » Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:21 pm UTC

If a Bike hits your car door, again, your car insurance pays for it. If a bike hits a person, that person's insurance pays for it.
right...which makes the person who got hit have higher insurance premiums....
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby EnderSword » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:41 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
If a Bike hits your car door, again, your car insurance pays for it. If a bike hits a person, that person's insurance pays for it.
right...which makes the person who got hit have higher insurance premiums....


Wouldn't unless its their fault for the accident. There are some insurance policies that go up regardless, but you shouldn't be buying those no-fault increase ones.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

What one should do and what one can pay for are sometimes two different things.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby EnderSword » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:48 pm UTC

That's often a marketing thing though, they convince you to take a bad one or something because of some other feature or something like a lower deductable.
If your insurance goes up its because you bought the one that goes up, your call.

Plus if cost is an issue, making people by more insurance isn't going to help that.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby DSenette » Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

it's not about a premium going up...it's about a premium going up because of something some other idiot did...

if you have car insurance...and someone hits you and they DON'T have car insurance...your premium WILL go up because YOUR insurance had to pay out...ANY time your insurance has to pay out (ignoring fault) the premium will go up
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby EnderSword » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:01 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:it's not about a premium going up...it's about a premium going up because of something some other idiot did...

if you have car insurance...and someone hits you and they DON'T have car insurance...your premium WILL go up because YOUR insurance had to pay out...ANY time your insurance has to pay out (ignoring fault) the premium will go up


I suggest you find a better insurance company, because that isn't true.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Griffin » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:09 pm UTC

If you buy crappy insurance, then its going to go up for crappy stupid annoying reasons. Thats the price you pay to get it so "cheap".

Anyways, for those pro-license people... exactly what would registration do anyways? I mean, seriously? The purpose of equipment licenses are to restrict use of dangerous objects to those who have shown the ability to use them safely. Since bicycling safely is trivial, getting the licenses would be equally trivial, but I very much doubt it would increase how safely bikers ride when they're not applying for the license - after all, every example listed wasn't an example of a failure in ability but rather an issue of negligence. Licenses do nothing to prevent negligence.

So what exactly is your goal when you say you want bicyclists licensed? I can't think of a single possible goal that wouldn't be better attained through another method.

And I'm sure bicycle insurance is purchasable if you look. But to make it mandatory is absurd.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Carnildo » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:53 am UTC

Griffin wrote:If you buy crappy insurance, then its going to go up for crappy stupid annoying reasons. Thats the price you pay to get it so "cheap".

Anyways, for those pro-license people... exactly what would registration do anyways? I mean, seriously? The purpose of equipment licenses are to restrict use of dangerous objects to those who have shown the ability to use them safely. Since bicycling safely is trivial, getting the licenses would be equally trivial, but I very much doubt it would increase how safely bikers ride when they're not applying for the license - after all, every example listed wasn't an example of a failure in ability but rather an issue of negligence. Licenses do nothing to prevent negligence.

So what exactly is your goal when you say you want bicyclists licensed? I can't think of a single possible goal that wouldn't be better attained through another method.


My goal is to ensure that bicyclists are aware that there are traffic laws that apply to them (such as "if the light is red, stop" or "don't drive on the left-hand side of the road" or "if you're turning, signal").

Pedestrians are unpredictable, but are slow enough that drivers can usually react to them in time. Cars are too fast to react to, but usually follow the rules of the road, making them predictable. Bicycles are neither slow like pedestrians nor predictable like cars. Licensing would change that by making bicycles more predictable; the alternative is to outlaw going faster than 5mph on a bike.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Sharlos » Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:03 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:
Griffin wrote:If you buy crappy insurance, then its going to go up for crappy stupid annoying reasons. Thats the price you pay to get it so "cheap".

Anyways, for those pro-license people... exactly what would registration do anyways? I mean, seriously? The purpose of equipment licenses are to restrict use of dangerous objects to those who have shown the ability to use them safely. Since bicycling safely is trivial, getting the licenses would be equally trivial, but I very much doubt it would increase how safely bikers ride when they're not applying for the license - after all, every example listed wasn't an example of a failure in ability but rather an issue of negligence. Licenses do nothing to prevent negligence.

So what exactly is your goal when you say you want bicyclists licensed? I can't think of a single possible goal that wouldn't be better attained through another method.


My goal is to ensure that bicyclists are aware that there are traffic laws that apply to them (such as "if the light is red, stop" or "don't drive on the left-hand side of the road" or "if you're turning, signal").

Pedestrians are unpredictable, but are slow enough that drivers can usually react to them in time. Cars are too fast to react to, but usually follow the rules of the road, making them predictable. Bicycles are neither slow like pedestrians nor predictable like cars. Licensing would change that by making bicycles more predictable; the alternative is to outlaw going faster than 5mph on a bike.

Another alternative is to just keep it as is. If you're going to require licensing, what logical reason are going to have for not requiring a 5 year old to be licensed?

A much easier solution is to increase the number of bike lanes and stop reinforcing the idea that motorists have a god given right to the whole road.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Giant Speck » Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:13 am UTC

Should I be required to purchase insurance or hold a license if I use my city's extensive bike trail system instead of using the roads?
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby the_stabbage » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:39 am UTC

It seems that the reasons why someone would want a license is to improve safety. This can be done with bike lanes. In my city, I can bike the 20 km from home to downtown almost entirely on bike paths. The ones in my city aren't parallel to roads, and in fact only cross an intersection about three times during the whole ride.

Insurance will discourage people from buying and riding bicycles. It will increase taxation through bureaucracy, and the cost of that bureaucracy will NOT be covered by the revenue from the insurance. If there's any alternative to cycling, people will choose that instead of paying the fee.

The city can put up ads everywhere for safety, have a big campaign with the mayor riding on the streets with his cronies, and generate a media storm about cycling safety. That would cost less and improve safety, without discouraging cycling.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Azrael » Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:39 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:Pedestrians are unpredictable, but are slow enough that drivers can usually react to them in time.

... which is why people don't get hit by cars? 12% of automotive fatalities involve pedestrians.

Anyhow, how would proponents suggest we enforce these regulations? Should the fees be high enough to increase staffing and resources for police bicycle patrols?

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Ixtellor » Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:22 pm UTC

The point of automotive insurance is to protect other people. You can ruin innocent peoples lives with your car.
I don't think the same holds true for a bicycle. How often is someone killed or crippled because an irresponsible bicyclist ran into them?

Hence I don't buy the premise that they need to be insured.

Also due to the state of obesity in this nation, discourging cycling though fees sounds like a horrible idea.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Chen » Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:30 pm UTC

A better way of enforcing traffic laws for bikers would definitely be nice. A lot of bikers in the city here (especially courriers) are quite a danger to pedestrians both directly and indirectly via cars needing to also avoid them. A registration/license plate for the bikes would work, but would probably not be in any way cost effective due to the beaurocracy of it. I suppose just more traffic cops watching out for this type of thing would be the simplest solution.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby General_Norris » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:37 pm UTC

I was run over by a bike when I was like 4. The bike went extremely fast because it went downhill.

I was left unharmed.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby DSenette » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:43 pm UTC

i was hit by a truck when i was 12...it was going 30 miles an hour....i got a couple of bruises

what's your point?
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Azrael » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:55 pm UTC

Chen wrote:A registration/license plate for the bikes would work, but would probably not be in any way cost effective due to the beaurocracy of it. I suppose just more traffic cops watching out for this type of thing would be the simplest solution.

Registration and licensing themselves would not reduce traffic law violations or safety concerns. Registration is a revenue stream, used to help pay for the bureaucracy and enforcement. On-going licensing would have no significant effect either besides that very basic initial education (just think about how easy it is to pass a driving test). Paying to renew my license every 5 years does not make me a better driver.

As for your second sentence, yes: Enforcement & education are the ways you reduce issues.

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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:23 pm UTC

At the risk of turning this into another Cyclists Rights thread (see Critical Mass about a year ago), I have to say Chen, your wrong about 'bikers being a danger'. Even in NYC, where couriers are notoriously hardass and reckless in their bombing through crowds, cars are the number one danger on the road, behind, you know, cops. I'd rather see a courier screaming down the street at me then a NYC taxi.
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Re: Should cyclists be licensed/insured?

Postby mikhail » Fri Oct 02, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

Others have said most of this already, but this is a terrible idea:

It discourages something desirable, for reasons of public health, reduced car use (& therefore petrol, etc.).

The overhead of insurance admin would greatly outweigh the staggeringly rare cases where a cyclist does more damage than (s)he can pay for - I've seen a direct impact between a bike at speed and a stationary car - $500 damage, and a very sore cyclist, and cars are one of the more expensive things you can hit. Even a collision with a pedestrian rarely does more than scrape and bruise. If you were to actually take the average annual damages a cyclist does and divide it across the pool of cyclists in a city, they'd be paying pennies - except they wouldn't. Suddenly, people would be making claims for minor stuff, false claims, etc. - all incentivised by your scheme.

Finally, this would have no effect whatsoever on cyclists running lights etc. Cops have to enforce the rules of the road. Cyclists who don't obey them should be fined and persistent offenders jailed.

Isn't there a checklist for solutions to spam filters out there somewhere? I wonder how much of it would work here...



Your post advocates a

( ) technical (x ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
(x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
(x) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
(x) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
(x) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
(x) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Or something.


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