Unlike the backtracking New Jersey Assemblywoman who withdrew her proposal for mandatory bicycle licenses, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) is serious about his bill, and he says there's support for it in the City Council. Reached by phone, Ulrich elaborated on his proposal, which he cautions hasn't been officially drafted or introduced yet. "This is so premature," Ulrich tells us. "I have no specifics about what it will look like. But I imagine that when it is finalized I'll gain a number of co-sponsors. Many of my colleagues feel similarly and will be supportive." But it's not that premature—Ulrich hopes to introduce the legislation on February 2nd.
We asked Ulrich how such a law might affect tourists visiting NYC with their bikes, and he said, "I can't legislate for people that are outside of my jurisdiction. I'm sure it will be addressed in the final copy of the bill. It would be tough to tell people outside the city what to do." Ulrich also stressed that the proposal would only apply to adults:
I'm not looking to harass kiddies on tricycles. And I'm not trying to say that if you're in the park you need a permit. But if you're 18 and use city streets, you should be accountable, just like if you own a car you need to get registered and get a license and insurance. I'm not going that far; we just need to get a handle on a situation that is out of control. I think it will improve safety for everybody if bicyclists get a registration sticker that they pay $3 for or whatever is for five or ten years. This is not a revenue generator. We have a law on the books in the city that says that the cost of the application can not exceed to cost of printing and processing it.
I have never, never seen a cop car pull over a bicyclist for running through a red light. I wish they would, because those are the ones who are creating problems every day in the city. If these people are not obeying traffic laws, they should be held accountable
We also asked Ulrich if his proposal contradicts the traditionally Republican goal of smaller government and less bureaucracy. "Absolutely not," says Ulrich. "This is the reality of the situation we're in, given the large number of people on bikes. And frankly, it's amazing this hasn't been passed already. The people on bicycles brought this on themselves by behaving this way. Nobody has the right to get in their car and drive however they want.
"I don't think this is big government trying to figure out who owns a mountain bike, that's silly. We're not trying to make money off the deal. I'm not against cycling. I think it's environmentally friendly. But they share the roads with drivers and pedestrians and they have a responsibility to follow the same laws."