Bicycle Network: Behaviour
Bicycle Network Victoria position: Registration of bicycles
Information about bicycle registration.
Bicycle Network Victoria does not support bicycle registration because it will discourage people from riding and the cost burden of setting up and administering such a scheme would be prohibitive.
Should bikes pay their way?
Some people say bicycle riders should pay to use roads like motorists do. Car registration, however, goes towards administration and third-party insurance, not for the construction and maintenance of roads.
Bicycle riders aren't deemed to require third-party insurance, so why should they pay for a registration administration system? Funds for roads and bicycle facilities will still come from rates and taxes.
Roads and shared paths are public resources available to anyone who wants to use them. We all contribute to their creation and maintenance and, in fact, bicycle riders create less wear and tear.
Most bicycle riders are motorists as well, so they pay their share of motor vehicle registration, licence fees and fuel tax. However, by replacing car trips with bicycle trips but paying the same, part-time riders actually subsidise full-time motorists.
Will registration help to keep track of bikes?
Another reason people call for bicycles to be registered is to make the rider accountable for their behaviour. While some bicycle riders do break the law, other ways to address this issue are likely to be more cost-effective than registration, since a reasonable registration fee could not cover the cost of administering a system to test, licence and monitor bicycle riders.
Faked registration is a problem for VicRoads with cars - it would be at least as difficult with bicycles, probably more so because people wouldn't take registration seriously for a $50 second-hand, around-town bike. And what would be done about people who have more than one bicycle?
Displaying registration plates on bicycles would also be difficult, with such a variety of different shaped bikes in use. Think of the failure to find a system of putting front licence plates on motorbikes so they can be charged for using CityLink infrastructure.
An appreciable benefit of bicycle registration would be that it would make recovering stolen bicycles easier and the reselling of stolen ones more difficult.
By introducing a financial and administrative burden, registration would discourage people from cycling. Families would particularly suffer: riding a bicycle might become an unaffordable luxury for many kids.
Finally, motor vehicle registration fees don't cover the costs of road safety measures, nor the health costs of road trauma, car pollution and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Perhaps bicycle riders should actually receive a tax rebate for every day we ride because we are less of a burden on the health system and the public purse? Read more about the health benefits of cycling.