Less than one week ago, Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D- Obviously.) introduced a bill that would require all bicycles in the state to be registered with the Motor Vehicles Commission and to be fitted with license plates. This registration would carry a fee of $10 per bike every two years, and fines for not registering would be as high as $100. The state, of course, would be responsible for keeping track of an entire database of bikes, and would also have to create the license plates to distribute to riders. Now, that bill is dead, and hipsters around the state could not be happier. Did the Assmeblywoman really believe that a counter culture that refuses to even put brakes on their bikes would add license plates?
Before I get into the glaring issues with this flawed idea, I need to make a slight digression. Is this what the democrats meant when they said we need to not “stay the course” with reforming New Jersey? Instead of passing legislation that actually matters to taxpayers who are increasingly being forced out of the state from ever rising taxes, the democrats think that time should be spent creating new responsibilities and burdens for government and those very taxpayers. Instead of making tough decisions to preserve a pension system for workers of the future or to ensure a great education for our children, the democrats want to make some poor bill drafter in the Office of Legislative Services write a bill that probably gave everyone in that office a good laugh. We are in the middle of a recession and a budget crisis, and this is the best they can do. Unbelievable.
Anyway, Tucker made a statement today that she never meant to impose new costs or burdens on residents, but that she was trying to protect senior citizens from not being able to identify and sue bike riders who run them down on the street. So let me get this straight. The elderly are under attack by bikers in Newark. They are being run over and can find no recourse. So somehow, the best solution is a new registration, a new government program, and a new reason to have to stand in line at the MVC? I don’t think so.
Look, lets think about this logically, put ourselves in the position of one of these unfortunate victims. If old and walking down the street, and you are suddenly hit by a bicycle. Hit so hard that you are injured enough to warrant wanting to sue the rider. Hit so hard that you are probably on the ground. What are the chances that this person who hit you so hard was going slow enough that you’d be able read a tiny little bike sized license plate and be able to identify the bike or the rider? If you have time to see and retain any of that during the accident, its probably because the person was nice enough to stop and make sure that you are ok, and call and ambulance, and take responsibility for his negligence.
Additionally, the burden this could place on taxpayers (not even just the hipster ones), while relatively small, is just another unnecessary annoyance coming directly from Trenton. Every two years, a family of five with five bikes would owe $50 just for the right to ride their bikes within our borders. If they didn’t register them, they could pay up to $500. I understand that the government is hard up for cash, but is this the way the democrats want to fix it? By finding new ways to gouge taxpayers, during a recession when nearly 10% of New Jerseyans are out of work? I understand that $50 really is not exactly breaking the bank, but to some families in our state that puts food on the table or pays for them to get to work or school. The unintended consequences are far greater than any possible benefit that could ever come from this backwards legislation. Thankfully, the bill will not become a law, at least not right now.