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Training wheels to license plates? New Jersey may soon require teens and adults to register bikes or face fines

Jeff Winkler Contributor

New Jersey residents older than 15 may soon be required to register their bicycles — and attach license plates to prove compliance — if a recently proposed law passes the state assembly.

On Jan. 6, assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker of Newark introduced Bill A3657, requiring registration of all bicycles ridden on public roads. The bill proposes that all bicyclists pay a bi-annual $10 registration fee with a $100 fine imposed on anyone who does not register and “authorizes the chief administrator to suspend or revoke a bicycle registration for any violation of the laws, rules, or regulations regarding their operation,” according to the proposed legislation.

The bill would also make New Jersey the first state to require bicycles to display a physical license plate.

A national advocacy group for bicyclists said that while bike registration programs are “an effective tool to recover stolen bicycles and hopefully deter theft,” the funds gathered by such programs should only be used to maintain bicycle databases or go toward improvements of facilities directly benefiting cyclists.

“We support effective bicycle registration programs that don’t impose a significant financial burden or [disincentives to bicycling],” said Meghan Cahill of the League of American Bicyclists. “Registration fees should be dedicated to the cost of establishing and maintaining a registration program.”

Cahill noted problems with requiring bikes to have license plates.

“You also have to consider how to effectively register a bicycle with a decal or sticker,” said Cahill. “There’s not an affixed place on every bicycle to put a license plate where say cars come with a place for a license plate. You have to be careful, because there are very few places on a bike … to put something like that on there.”

Much like an automobile, any person selling a bike would be required to sign over their registration to the new owner and the Department of Motor Vehicles would be in charge of the state’s registration.

Out-of-state bicyclists pedaling in New Jersey won’t be required to register their wheels but they must be in compliance of their own state’s requirements.

It’s unclear whether the proposed law would apply to unicycles or tricycles and whether tandem bikes face different registration and fee requirements.

Assembly woman Tucker could not be reached for comment at this time.

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