The other day a co-worker asked me how I felt about licensing cyclists. My first reaction was to ask, why, to end the argument that cyclist do not pay their fair share or for the hopes of regulation of law breaking cyclists? She was more inclined to help fund bike lanes, racks and trails. As I pondered this question, I had many questions of my own.
First off, to me cycling should be available to all. Children should not have to pay for the joy of cycling, and low income people that may be trying to save funds by cycling on a second hand bike should not be forced to pay a fee. She suggested an exemption for such cases as low income and under certain ages. I am not opposed to paying a fee, seriously we have to fund the roads and sidewalks somehow. What I have a serious problem with is that by adding fees it becomes a nightmare to enforce. I seriously doubt that the City of Seattle would financially benefit from cyclist fees, and the cost to enforce might even put them in the negative.
My personal favorite form of fee, is a usage fee. Charge for use on specified roads and paths. I have no idea how you would enforce it, but if you put forth a user fee to cyclist, you damn well better toll the roads for cars too. This, in my view, would certain end all arguments for a cycling fee. If a cyclist caused nearly the damage a vehicle caused on the roads, I could totally see asking for a fee. But cyclists are not the cause of pot holes, and rolls in the roads. These come from heavier vehicles and city buses.
The issue of lawbreaking cyclist is a whole different issue. I do think there should be more attention to red light running, and stop sign avoidance. Cyclist are obligated to yield to pedestrians, and I firmly believe that this should be enforced. Running over a pedestrian is truly indecent. Hitting a pedestrian and taking off is or should be considered a hit and run, felony. However, with that stated, pedestrians that jaywalk and walk into the paths of oncoming traffic, including cyclist should be cited as well. A jaywalking pedestrian that causes a collision should be cited and held accountable for damages if the cyclist was unable to stop in time. Negligence is inexcusable. There are no accidents, just lack of attention. And this law should apply to everyone utilizing the streets, be it a cyclist, a car or a pedestrian.