There are a very few words in the English that can incite rage at the sound of them like the word “cyclist” can, especially in Australia.
The topic of “whether cyclists should pay registration” in Australia has been brought up quite a few times by some people, but is it a good idea?
When cyclists hear the words “compulsory registration” you can literally hear the veins in the heads of lycra laden cyclists popping out from their foreheads.
A registration scheme would not be expensive and it would not apply to everyone. If you’re not a road cyclist, but rather riding a mountain bike or BMX, you should not pay a registration fee.
The misconception in this argument is all forms of cyclist would pay a registration fee. Only a road cyclist would pay a registration fee and that would easily be determined by whether or not a cyclist is riding a road bike.
Little Timmy who rides his BMX to school wouldn’t have to pay anything, neither would a family riding mountain bikes through the park on the weekend. Registration would be limited to road bike users only.
Why should a cyclist who opts to ride on the road not have to pay anything? They’re contributing to the traffic albeit rather softly, they are using roads everyone else pays for through taxes and vehicle registration.
Even if the fee was only $80 a year, that’s nothing. You often see road cyclists at cafes happy to pay $5 for a large flat white, but complain when the prospect of paying registration is raised. Take into account that a road bike can costs thousands of dollars and requires maintenance which can get pricey as well.
If you can afford and expensive road bike, expensive coffee and expensive lycra outfit, why can’t you afford registration? A decent and brand new road bike can cost more than a second hand car to purchase outright…
Registration would also be considerably cheaper if you are already paying vehicle insurance. A cyclist would only pay the full amount if they don’t have any other registered vehicle or motorbike, taking into account registration would already be extremely cheap ($20 per month maximum ideally).
The question of why is often raised as well. Cyclists smugly like to raise the point they’re helping the environment by riding and easing congestion as well, they’re doing road users a service by riding instead of driving.
And you know what, cyclists are right. One less car on the roads is not a bad thing for both congestion and the environment, especially if you can forgo the fact the bike they are riding was built in a factory producing greenhouse gases and was transported by truck from the factory to the store and possibly by plane if coming from overseas.
The reason for registration in my mind isn’t about raising revenue or covering up some kind of anti car registration loophole, it’s about safety and improvement.
Some benefits of registration would:
- Cyclists caught breaking the law like riding through red lights, failing to stop at intersections or stop signs would be identifiable and fined. In most countries including Australia a cyclist has to abide by the road rules like a motorist.
- Money could be used to fund new bike paths and bikeways as well as the addition of bike lanes on major roads and blackspots. Currently cyclists are getting riding infrastructure for free without paying a cent (except taxes).
- A big benefit would be cyclists would stop selectively riding on the road and footpath whenever they feel like it (unless absolutely essential).