A regular reader of my blog recently pointed me to a Bill that had been working its way through the Georgia Legislature (I understand it has died a glorious death). The Bill was designed to harm the poor and destroy the cycling industry in the State in one fell swoop. The reason for my writing this post is to shed light on the nature of such legislature so that cyclists can pay attention to what is going on in their own State… Bills like these must be fought with political ferociousness. They treat the age-old sport of cycling as a politician treats most everything else – as if they have no clue.
Let’s get right to it. The Bill sought to set up a State-wide requirement for the registration and license plating of bicycles. If you were caught without registration or a plate on your bike you would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine. This means that the infraction would go on a criminal record:
(c) Any person who fails to register a new or used motor vehicle, bicycle, or trailer as
79 required in subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon
80 conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100.00.
(e) A conviction for displaying a license plate or temporary license plate not provided
113 for in this chapter shall be punished as a misdemeanor.
Oh folks it gets so much better. Here’s how big your bike’s license plate would have to be:
…except bicycle and motorcycle license plates which shall be at least four inches
119 wide and not less than seven inches in length
The cost for registration? $15 a year or $48 for a lifetime license for that bike! Oh, I know the old stale argument, that bicyclists should pay their road tax too, but lets face it folks, a bicycle does not contribute, in any way, to the deterioration of the roads. Taxes are set up to fix the roads. Also, let’s not forget that cycling is the last true form of cheap transportation that poor people can use to get from point A to point B without having to lay out a bunch of money to do it. The irony is that our politicians claim that requiring a license to vote is a burden on the poor while requiring a poor person to come up with $50 to buy a license and God only knows how much to display that license on his or her bike would be insignificant. What a joke, and if your kids ride a bike? Yep, $15 a year because you’d be a fool to pay the $48 lifetime registration when your kid will outgrow the bike in two or three.
Next up is the part of the Bill that would effectively ruin the cycling industry:
Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than
two abreast ride single
183 file except on bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use
184 of bicycles, or when a special event permit issued by a local governing authority permits
185 riding more than
two abreast single file. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall ride
186 no more than four riders per single file line, and at least four feet shall separate each
187 bicycle. At least 50 feet shall be maintained between each line of four riders at all times.
Got that? No more pace lines, no more double pace lines, drafting and no more club rides in Georgia. Just make sure you carry a tape measure with you at all times so you can prove that there were indeed four or 50 feet between you and the next cyclist… And if that wasn’t enough:
When a roadway is part of the state highway system, the Department of Transportation
195 may restrict persons from riding bicycles on the roadway or designate certain times when
196 bicycle riding is permissible. When a roadway is part of a local road system, a local
197 governing authority may restrict persons from riding bicycles on the roadway or designate
198 certain times when bicycle riding is permissible.
So certain towns can designate their roads off-limits to bikes at certain hours – imagine you’re out on a nice little 70 miler with your wife and you roll into a town that just so happened to restrict bikes – and this Bill would have clearly allowed a town to completely restrict bicycles from road use of any kind – you would have to turn around and circumnavigate the town.
Here’s where this hits home personally. My family travels to northern Georgia every year and you can bet we bring our bikes. I look forward to climbing some real hills every year. If this Bill were to have passed (again, it was killed), I simply would have gone to North Carolina or Tennessee where they’re nicer to cyclists anyway. The Georgia Bill was a travesty. Should your State government try to bring up for debate such a Bill, as a cyclist it’s your responsibility to raise such a stink with your local Congressperson that they remember your name for at least the next decade. Just, please, do so respectfully. Remember, we cyclists are a respectful lot. Oh yeah, I wonder if they’re planning on requiring rollerblade and running shoe registration next.
Also, and this is even more humorous, politicians in my State are not stupid so we don’t have license plates on our bikes… What do I have to do to ride my bike in Georgia? I read the whole Bill (it’s only seven pages long) and there isn’t one provision in there for out of town cyclists. Unlike motor vehicles, which are required to have plates in all 50 States, it is likely that I would have to pay $15, get a plate (another fee) and re-register it every year to ride my bike in Georgia. To require this would be plain old-fashioned stupid folks. Yea Georgia Republicans, you dopes. Way to show the people of your State that control and idiocy is not just a Democrat problem.
I have emailed a local paper covering the story to express my opinion.