Whenever a story about cyclists comes up in the news, commenters make remarks about how cyclists don’t pay for the roads, or that should have to pay registration fees and sit licenses like drivers do.
Cyclists tend to dismiss these suggestions as not necessary.
I, as a cyclist myself, would gladly pay a registration fee, and sit a cycle safety license if it meant common recognition of my right to be there on the road. I would suggest a fee of about $100/year would be reasonable, to ride a bike within a city. If you compare this to about $30/week, or $1500/year otherwise spent riding the bus to and from work, this fee seems easily affordable.
I think what irks some car drivers so deeply, is their awareness of just how much driving a car costs them – petrol, parking, registration fees, warrant of fitness – and knowing that the cyclists that they’ve having to share the road with, aren’t feeling any of this pain.
If car drivers know that the cyclist is also paying to be on the road – then the hope is that the cyclists will be treated with more empathy and respect.
A cycling safety license seems necessary. It stuns me how common it is to see cyclists cycling in the door zone around Wellington – car door openings being a common cause of cyclist injury or death.
If a cycling safety license was mandatory – and it included education such as where to position yourself on the road (ie. centre road position instead of the door zone) it would have twofold effects.
Firstly – cyclists would cycle in a safer and more confident manner, and secondly – car drivers would recognise that such techniques are a formally recognised safety technique, and not cyclists trying to be assholes.
Ultimately, perhaps administering a cyclist registration would cost more than it’s worth, and how would you enforce it? It might incentivise police to pull up cyclists to check their registrations. But certainly, the concept is worth considering. By formally regulating cycling, it may give the mode of transport the status of essential infrastructure, than as it is currently commonly perceived, as an unnecessary hobby.