Why Aren't Bikes Licensed?

There are more bicycles on the road than there are motorcycles. You can find them anywhere: on highways, side roads, foot paths and sidewalks. In Vancouver, 1600+ bicycles are reported stolen each year. In the 1920s, you didn't need a drivers license nor did you need your car licensed. Cars were uncommon, so there was no need to catalog automobiles or vet their drivers. As the volume of wheels on the road rose, licensing came into play. It's about time this happens for bicycles.
I'm not talking about requiring insurance: if a bicyclist injures themselves that's their own matter. I'm not talking about licensing bicyclists: many of the people who bicycle are unable to pass any other sort of driving test, so it would be unfair to bar them from cycling. I'm just talking about making bicycles non-anonymous vehicles.
If all bikes needed a legitimate license, then stolen bikes would either pack the same stolen plate making detection easy; or they would need a new plate which would raise a flag.
I'm not going to pretend otherwise, my chief reason for pushing this idea would be to get the bad actors off the road. Bad bicyclists would be easier to identify. When they strike a pedestrian, they could be described better than "a guy in jeans and a t-shirt" or when the whizz through an intersection and cause a pile-up of cars that swerve to avoid them, they would have less anonymity.
We would not be the first jurisdiction to license our bikes. California state law has provisions for licensing, leaving it to each municipality to decide if they should or should not license bikes. The city of Davis CA does license the bikes. It's clear that this license doesn't cause wind resistance or any other of the other complaints that accompany the call to license. Detroit had a law on the books since 1964, but when city council there tried to push adherence Cyclists Unite formed up organized resistance to the legislation.
Why is there active resistance? Who does the lack the licensing help? Bad bicyclists wouldn't be able to ride into the sunset after hitting pedestrians or causing accidents. Bike thieves would have a harder time moving stolen bikes.
So why the resistance? Is this crypo-libertarianism? There are calls for regulating the Internet that are pushed back because, "we don't need more legislation." Cellphone companies love this dynamic. While I can complain if my landline has spotty service or bad billing practices, both the cellphone companies and the CRTC remind me that celluar service isn't so heavily regulated. Is the "do we need more regulation" call keeping the stickers off of bikes?
The biggest battle-cry against licensing comes from the concept that it could put a chill on alternative transportation thereby bringing about accelerated global warming. In other words: bicyclists are okay using our sidewalks as velodromes, but they will park their bikes if asked to stick a $10 label on their bike. Are bicyclists really so tepid when it comes to combatting climate change?
Everything else on the road gets a license plate. Those other vehicles also require insurance in case of accidents. And, those other operators need to be vetted through a driver license process. All I'm suggesting is the first step: license bikes.


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