Tell Eric Ulrich What You Think of Bike Licensing

Photo: City Council.
Eric Ulrich. Photo: ## Council.##

Think that mandatory license plates for bikes is a bad idea? That it’ll drain city resources and put a barrier between New Yorkers and a popular, efficient, and green transportation mode? That bike licensing is trying to solve a problem that only exists in some lawmakers’ imaginations? Now’s your chance to let Queens Republican Eric Ulrich know.

Ulrich called for the city to require ID tags on all bicycles last week and says he’ll have legislation to that effect on February 2, according to Gothamist. If you’ve been longing to explain to Ulrich just why the idea is so misguided, head over to Transportation Alternatives’ website and send him an e-fax. You could, for example, remind him that his constituents face much more pressing safety concerns than bicycles that lack ID stickers.

Take a few minutes to stand up for bicycling and write him now.

  • ryan

    licensing for automobiles is ridiculous!
    its a barrier to entry for those who wish to drive, is a drain on city resources, and creates an unnecessary bureaucracy. drivers can self govern, and all we need a strong ad campaign to ensure that rules are followed.

  • Yes, operating a car is totally equivalent to operating a bike. So is operating a semi-trailer or a 747. It’s all the same.

  • Omri

    As soon as I get the license to open up my barber shop, I’m offering a special on appendectomies.

  • ksarge

    This would be totally impossible with the City’s planned bikeshare.

  • More pies in faces!

    I guess e-faxes MIGHT work too. We will see.

  • BicyclesOnly

    If you’re REALLY pissed about this, consider (in addition to sending an efax to Ulruich) making it to the CB 8 meeting tomorrow night, where a resolution calling for registration and insurance of e-bikes will be voted on. Like many, I’m unhappy with the driving habits of some of the delivery guys who favor e-bikes, but it is very clear to me that the folks behind this resolution would love to expand it to all cyclists. This is the leading edge of this registration nonsense and it would send a great signal to Ulrich and others if we could beat it back. Even on the merits, the resolution makes no sense; the problem is riding habits, not dangers inherent in the technologuy, and registration and insurance won’t get at the problem.

    The meeting is at 6:30 at the Ramaz School Auditorium, 129 East 85th Street. Show up at 6:15 to make sure you get your two minutes to speak at the beginning of the meeting.

  • MRN

    Already more attention than it deserves.

    If it deserves more attention, perhaps the anti-bike backlash from the community (as reflected by the electeds) ought to be examined in more earnest.

  • Aside from just generally being a bad idea there isn’t all that much more to say about the proposal. Even Eric Ulrich admits he hasn’t really thought out how to deal with enforcement or how it would apply to tourists. Maybe he’s hoping so find some other councilmembers to flesh it out for him so he can just hang his name on it.

  • jooltman

    Sinister eyebrows, definitely manscaped. ‘nough said.

  • andy padre

    as a cyclist i would be for this if there were also a way to ticket jaywalkers. fair is fair

  • Ben from Harlem

    I did the efax and the phone call.
    It took about five minutes.

    Take the time folks, he needs to hear directly from people that it’s a bad idea.

  • mfs

    Wouldn’t hurt to contact your Councilmember and tell him/her that it’s a bad idea as well. Ulrich is correct that there are several other Councilmembers who would sign on to this.

  • Conrad

    @andy padre

    Cops can already give tickets for jaywalking. Just like they can already ticket cyclists for running red lights without enacting bike licensing. The onus here is on police enforcement. And enforcement of motorist offenders, as well as cyclists.

  • Ken

    Don’t just send the e-fax — call! The staffer I got asked if I lived in Ulrich’s district. When I said no, he instructed me to call my own councilmember. I asked if Ulrich plans ever to run for citywide office. If so, I said, his anti-bicycling stand, coupled with his apparent unwillingness to address the real street safety threat to his constituents, would weigh heavily against my ever casting a vote for him. Call now. Let’s inundate his office: 718 738-1083

  • Ken, my take is that his staff is sick of having to listen to bicycle advocates calling up all the time and want to offload that onto other CMs. I called the first day and spent 15 minutes on the phone with someone there, despite being clear that I lived in another borough.

  • Ken

    Yes, the guy I spoke with sounded pretty beleaguered. And that’s a bad thing? They keep hearing from the city’s growing thousands of cyclists and maybe their boss will drop this proposal that could be described as just plain silly if it didn’t also threaten actual lives.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Ulrich’s staffer didn’t even ask if I was from his district or not. She told me to send an email, they aren’t taking phone calls on this anymore.

  • Hey, what are some guidelines about when you call an elected’s district office and when you call their legislative office? I’ve never known. Thanks.

  • Councilman Eric Ulrich’s Regressive and Discriminatory Proposal

    For those of you unaware, there is a councilman in Queens, NY, who has put forth a proposal to register all bicycles with the government and that all bicycles should have an identification tag.

    Mr. Ulrich’s priorities and understanding are misplaced. He would be better served introducing legislation to make drivers safer, enforce traffic laws for motorists, and encouraged the populace to use bicycles.

    The proposed legislation is like asking people to register and wear an id tag on the next pair of running shoes they purchase. After all, you use the shoes to walk. And you may walk into somebody and they may fall down. So shouldn’t we make sure that everyone who wears running shoes register them with the government. You can see this is a slippery slope.

    And what an irony. We have a democratic president in the White House issuing an executive order to examine federal regulations to free commerce from excessive encumberance. We have a republican councilman in Queens New York seeking to regulate the most basic of freedoms.

    For those of you who are unaware, bicycles are a pollution free and healthy alternative to almost any other form of transportation. As an everyday (and civil) commuter in Manhattan, I daily witness at least 6 automobiles running red lights. I see drivers speeding, getting in accidents and polluting our precious world. I see people texting, phoning, eating, reading and being otherwise distracted while driving a 3000pound weapon every day.

    Perhaps Mr. Ulrich’s priorities need to be turned to those infractions first and leave the mostly harmless bicyclist community alone.

    For the economically disadvantaged, bicycling represents a legitimate option to more costly forms of transportation. Registration is one more economic burden for them and regressive by design if not discriminatory.

    All in all, this is a bad idea. Mr. Ulrich, there are so many more important issues to attend to. Please withdraw your sophomoric and offensive proposal.

    Lou Rubin

  • Thanks Streetsblog for the props on Friday.

    Unfortunately you gonna’ hate my opinion on the bicycle registration issue for you NYC folk and here’s why.

    Back in October of 2009 I had the pleasure of attending the very well run Walk21NYC Conference. NYCDoT were spectacular hosts. Anyway, on the eve of the conference I helped assist visiting attendees on a bike tour of NYC bicycle facilities run by local advocates, consultants and DoT staff. However, after a long evening of riding around the city, many of the visiting attendees were beginning to comment on the lawlessness of a large percentage of the cyclists on the streets. Most of the people attending the conference were government officials, consultants and advocates themselves who work on bicycle and pedestrian issues in their local communities.

    Here’s the issue as I see it. Yes, bicyclists are not killing or injuring people anywhere on the same scale as motorists. However, the percentage of NYC bicyclists flagrantly flouting the law is just outstanding and probably equal if not even greater than the percentage of motorists flagrantly flouting the law. For example, when was the last time you saw 95% of motorists operating their vehicles at night without lights??

    And as the number of cyclists continues to grow in NYC, regular people on the streets are just seeing more and more lawbreaking cyclists. This is some new phenomenon to them and one they want to see controlled.

    I still think Ulrich’s proposal is as ill founded as the one on our side of the Hudson. I totally disagree with his notion that, “Being on the road is a privilege, not an absolute right.” That is only the case for motorist and states license motorists due to the inherent hazards automobiles can wreak on the general public when operated by an incompetent persons.

    However I due agree with Ulrich when he says, “The people on bicycles brought this on themselves by behaving this way.”

    You can’t have it both ways and TA would be wise to recognize this as it advocates to prevent this proposal from becoming reality.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Andy B,

    I think the assessment that NYC cyclists are less dangerous, but on average no more law abiding, than the average motorist is fair. But a registration proposal doesn’t really do much to improve law-abidingness. So I disagree that cyclists have brought Ullrich’s proposal down upon themselves.

  • Joe R.

    @Andy B,

    As a group, cyclists don’t flout the laws any more than motorists do. Motorists speed, cyclists run red lights instead. Both seem to occur with the same frequency for their respective groups. And don’t get me started on pedestrians. When was the last time anyone saw a pedestrian actually wait out a don’t walk signal if the crosswalk was clear ( and no, I don’t do this either because it makes zero sense )? The difference is pedestrians and autos have been around so long that their behavoir is just background noise. My guess is if the current enforcement effort doesn’t kill off cycling, in a few years the cyclists will just be background noise also. The problem is the other two groups are still figuring out the etiquette on how to deal with cyclists. I’ll be the first to admit cyclists aren’t helping matters either when they engage in unpredictable behavoir. If you’re a motorist or pedestrian, you shouldn’t have to toss a coin to determine if that cyclist will grant you right-of-way if you have the light. And by the same token, once that cyclist grants you the right-of-way, you shouldn’t chastise them for then continuing on their journey if traffic allows. Pedestrians do it all the time, yet we never hear cries of “ticket those scofflaw red-light running pedestrians”.

    I get the unease with the large number of new cyclists on the streets. What I don’t get is this new obsession with “the law”, or that cyclists should be held to a higher standard than any other group. If a law is ignored by only a small percentage of the population, then that indicates the law doesn’t prohibit everyday actions a reasonable person might engage in. On the flip side, if a law is routinely ignored, then maybe it’s just a bad law, and should be modified or repealed ( i.e. Prohibition ). And many of our laws with respect to cycling are indeed bad laws which fail to account for the strengths and limitations of human-powered transportation.

    It may be true those conference attendees were struck by the lawlessness of NYC cyclists. It’s equally true however that many may have come from places where the citizenry is more law-abiding. NYC has always had a lawless, “wild west” feel to it. That’s actually part of its appeal to me, provided the serious crimes are dealt with. Another factor is that many were government officials. Almost to a T, government officials legislate in an ivory tower. They often pass laws which make no sense, and then are shocked when such laws are routinely flouted because even the police recognize the law makes no sense, hence refuse to enforce it ( i.e. think back to how long Guiliani’s jaywalking crackdown lasted ). Maybe some of these officials should actually talk to people who bike every day. When the law imposes an unreasonable set of conditions, it will be largely ignored. That’s the case with both the pedestrian and cycling laws in NYC. Both groups are already marginalized in an infrastructure largely designed to speed as many automobiles as rapidly as possible. If they obeyed the laws to a T, it would add insult to injury by compromising both their efficiency, and possibly safety, largely just to cater autos. It’s high time NYC seriously looked at modifying both its cycling and pedestrian laws.

  • Ulrich should resign. He hopes to have a long career in politics, and this dumb idea is a terrible start. Cyclists must unite in calling for his resignation, and perhaps an example can be made to other “public servants” who think they can score points by bashing bikes.

  • I called mr. Ulrich’s office to discuss this proposal. They asked if I was a constituent in his district. I indicated that i was not and was told that he could therefore not speak with me. I asked that he call me so I could discuss the proposed legislation; I was curious to hear his pov.
    I am still waiting for his call. I guess he is too busy to speak to anyone outside of Queens.

  • T. Lincoln

    I do believe NY government has hit a new low. This is an aburb bill, to even promote this as a good idea is like giving us the middle finger. It is common sense to reduce expenses – like a family does to control their budget when they lose an income, not look at increasing your burden by creating a new segment in an already inefficient bureau or state government. This stinks of all other NY ‘great ideas’ that looks good on paper – $2 million up front, $300K per year extra income, but how much is this going to cost us taxpayers? What additional administration is there? This is simply a bad idea. Ulrich and DenDekker have just made a bad career decision. I hope the messgae gets through.


A Video Message About Bike Licensing, From New Jersey

Via Andy B at WalkBikeJersey, here’s how one Newark newspaperman responded to a recent proposal to mandate bicycle registration in his state. (Congrats on breaking the story, WalkBikeJersey.) NYC’s own Eric Ulrich is contemplating a similar bill, though not one that would apply to minors. Somehow I doubt any of our local print outfits will […]

Michael DenDekker Explains His Inexplicable Bike License Bill

Remember last month when Council Member Eric Ulrich came out with the idea of creating a complicated new bureaucracy to register and identify New Yorkers who ride bikes, a proposal that would build an expensive and redundant personal identification system on top of our existing ID systems, opening the door to increased harassment of cyclists […]

Eric Ulrich’s Cure for BQE Potholes: Stop Building Public Plazas

Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca convened a hearing this afternoon on NYC DOT’s plaza program, a sequel of sorts to the bike policy hearing where opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane got a big media moment and several council members laid out their windshield perspective on bike lanes for all to see. Today, […]

Today’s Headlines

Eric Ulrich Hasn’t Thought This Bike ID Thing Thru; Other CMs Still Back Him, He Says (Gothamist) Daily News Gives Ulrich a Knucklehead Award: Bike Licensing Is “Just Dumb” Watch Ulrich Defend His Anti-Bike Bill on ABC 7 (via Brooklyn Spoke) Catering Hall Magnate Proposes 400-Space Garage for South Slope; Irene Lo Re Cheers (Bklyn […]