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Evanston Alderman Proposes License Plates For Bicycles

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 3, 2014 3:30PM

Photo credit: Dan Fogel

Politicians will never let a bad idea die. Case in point: Evanston Alderman Delores Holmes, who brought up the subject of requiring license plates for bicycles in the north suburb at a meeting Monday night.

Evanston has a voluntary bike licensing program where cyclists who register their bikes with the city attach small registration stickers to their bike’s frames. During a discussion on raising the fines for riding a bicycle on Evanston’s sidewalks from $15 to $25, Holmes said whenever a cyclist violates the rules of the road, “I ought to be able to write down that number and call the police.”

No further action was taken on Holmes’ suggestion, which is, frankly, how it should be. The idea of licensing bicycles or mandatory registration of bicycles with local government has been floated everywhere and never goes further than suggestion. Former Chicago Ald. Dick Mell floated the idea during Transportation Committee budget hearings in 2011; the public outcry from bicyclists on that had Mell stressing it was just an idea. Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Congressman Mike Quigley broached the idea of mandatory bike registration and licensing last year.

These proposals are almost always seen as revenue generators but they’ve been summarily rejected as too complicated to implement and enforce, and would add to municipal budgets in an age when calls for government budget cuts are the norm.

What Evanston, Chicago and other cities need to do is invest in infrastructure that allows for safer cycling, encourages the growth of cycling and works toward having cyclists, motorists and pedestrian share the streets respectfully.