Bicycling Western Australia does not support bicycle registration due to the negative impact such a scheme would have on cycling participation and the administrative costs of such a scheme would be prohibitive.
SHOULD BIKES BE REGISTERED?
The debate about registration for bicycles is normally raised after an anti-bike-rider story in the local media. Essentially, the idea of registering bikes is a used as a solution to a problem that does not exist.
The proponents of a registrations and licencing system have the view that such schemes will result in greater level of rider accountability through rider identification and that they will be paying for their ‘right’ to use public roadways and infrastructure.
WHO PAYS FOR OUR ROADS AND PATHS?
We all pay our share of the road network through GST, income tax, company tax, state government taxes and charges and our local government rates.
It is often mistakenly suggested that motor vehicle registration fees pay to build our roads. This is simply not the case. Motor vehicle registration mainly covers administration costs and compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance not for the construction and maintenance of roads.
Our roads are funded from a variety of sources including Federal government grants (from GST, income and company taxes). The significant State transport budget is paid for from state government revenue. Almost 95% of the WA road network is built and maintained by local government authorities who pay for roads from rates and taxes collected from residents.
PAYING FOR BIKE REGISTRATION
Forcing people to register their bike will make bike riding less attractive, more expensive and less convenient. Many people would suffer from the financial burden of bike registration including families with children that go for leisurely rides and people who own more than one bike.
THE PROS AND CONS OF BIKE REGISTRATION
‘CONS’ OF REGISTRATION
|Affordability||A registration fee would increase the cost of owning a bicycle and potentially make riding a bike unaffordable especially families with children, the unemployed and pensioners.|
|Costs of running scheme||The cost of administering a bicycle registration system would be high and unlikely to be covered by the income. Any shortfall in revenue would need to come from the public purse.|
|Administrative issues||There are a range of administrative challenge such as who would administer the scheme, how would transfer of ownership and disposals be handled and would it apply to all bikes including young children.|
|Enforcement||Who would be responsible for enforcement? Police would have to use their already stretched resources to check registration and enforce penalties. If the scheme is not enforced it will be ignored.|
|Reduced participation||The additional cost of owning a bike would most certainly have an impact of the level of cycling participation. Bike riding offers huge benefits to society and reduced participation will have a very negative impact on the whole community.
Economic – numerous studies show that investment in cycling provides positive economic impacts to the whole community.
Health – physical inactivity is the number one health crisis facing Australia and riding a bike is a great way to tackle this inactivity. Riding burns calories, is low impact and great for cardiovascular health.
Social – cycling is a very social activity and activates communities. It enables people to interact with each other.
Environmental – cycling reducing traffic congestion and fuel emissions. Bikes cause virtually no wear and tear on the roads.
‘PROS’ OF REGISTRATION
|Authority to ride||It may increase the perception among other road users that bike riders have a ‘right’ to ride on the road.|
|Contributing financially||It could increase the perception among road users that riders are paying for the roads they are utilising. This is already the case as roads are paid for by everyone not just car drivers.|
|Accountability||Riders would be more accountable for their actions as they could be more easily identified. This may be true but motorist can be identified yet some still choose to speed, go through red lights, and indicate without turning.|
|Bike register||If bikes had a number plate, their details could be stored on a database. This system would make retrieving lost and stolen bikes easier. All bikes have a serial number and can easily be identified from this number.
Displaying a number plate would be difficult and potentially dangerous as bikes come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
SOLVING THE ‘PROBLEM’
The introduction of a bike registration system will not solve any problems for road users as the real problems are not being addressed.
The lack of quality infrastructure – a smarter infrastructure system would allow safer passage for bike riders while sustaining traffic flow. Providing separation of bikes from other road users will greatly increase safety and have a dramatic impact on the number of people riding bikes. An effective integrated transport solution would provide convenient alternatives so people can choose public transport, walking or cycling.
Education and promotion – all road users, drivers and riders, need more education about their responsibilities when sharing the roads. The introduction of road safety, education and behaviour campaigns would assist people to better understand the road rules and their responsibilities.