I commented on another blog the other day that one of the reasons we’re seeing cyclists with poor riding habits (not obeying traffic laws, doing stupid things on the road) is because the last time many people rode a bike was when they were 12, and they’re now approaching cycling with the enthusiasm (and corresponding lack of responsibility) of their inner 12-year-old. So how to fix this? Some people have proposed licensing bikes, and collecting fees, and mandatory cycling education. Some drivers are whining that bikes are using “their roads” for free. For one thing, the bikes are not doing the damage to the roads that causes the constant need for repair like millions of cars, nor fueling the demand for the ever-expanding bloated highway system. Bikes are banned from major freeways in my area, I can only assume that’s true in other areas as well.
Cycling is not that complicated. I would rather not see it turned into another bureaucratic mess. I seriously don’t want to have to wait in line at the local DMV for a bike license, in addition to car registration, and driver’s license (and let’s not even think about creating a whole new government agency to deal with bicycles). I don’t think anyone wants to see more backlog at their local DMV. Collecting fees would only discourage people from bothering with bicycles, not encourage it. It’s hard enough now to get people out of their cars, making them pay for it won’t help. And I don’t think you’re ever going to get enough people riding to collect enough money to make it worthwhile. We riders are tiny minority of the population, and likely to stay that way in most areas. More bikes on the road benefits everyone: the cyclist, the motorists who can’t find parking in congested areas and then have to pay through the nose to park, and we all want cleaner air, don’t we?
Maybe a public service campaign of 30-second television spots highlighting what is required of cyclists, and drivers who encounter cyclists, would do the trick. Television stations could do an annual “Bike Week” campaign (yes, we’d have to designate a Bike Week first). Morning news shows like “Today” could get the message out in a big way. Bike manufacturers could get in on it, combine public education with a commercial for their products. We DO have a right to the road, but we also have the responsibility of riding in accordance with the law.