Bike registration?

STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete - The Freeman

A month ago, we read this news report: “Bike Lanes Board to start registration.” Actually, every new set of members of the (Cebu City) Sugbu Bike Lanes Board (SBLB) always seem to come out with this move ever since the Sugbu Bike Lanes Ordinance (Ordinance No. 2408), was passed in October 29, 2014. There are a lot of discussions though, because the pros and cons of bicycle registration is still a continuing discussion worldwide. The fact is --only a few countries actually require it.

Countries that have a high volume of cyclists such as the Netherlands have not seen the need for the registration of bicycles or licensing of cyclists. And biking advocates always argue that imposing roadblocks such as registration of bicycles or licensing of cyclists will deter the advocacy for the much-desired active mobility. This is still an ongoing international discussion and it’s important we know the reasons, the pros and cons, and their consonance to the government’s goals and desired outcome. Most people would think this is for road safety considerations. Actually, most countries and cities register bikes for anti-theft and insurance purposes.

We need to remember that sustainable mobility and climate change are the main drivers when we promote biking. The first “whereas clause” of CO 2408 says, “biking to work and school will help decongest traffic jams, save expensive fossil fuel, promote pollution-free environment and minimize global warming.” The SBLB should be closely cognizant of that and assess whether their move to register bikes will promote or deter biking. While Section 7 authorizes the government to issue licenses after payment of fees, it seems there is no explicit requirement for bicycle owners to seek registration. And interestingly, non-registration is not listed as a Prohibited Act under Section 8, nor are any penalties imposed under Section 9, thereof. Absent the specific provisions of law, confiscating privately-owned bicycles may be unlawful and people at the SBLB may find themselves in hot water if they do so.

Mind you, personally, I am still supporting bicycle registration, but on a voluntary basis. Certain issues have to be discussed thoroughly, though. Will cyclists from Talisay City need to register their bikes in Cebu City if they pass through every day because they work in Mandaue? If the other LGUs pass their own registration requirements, will they also need to register in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities and Cordova if they work in the latter? How long will it take to register? --half a day? Won’t they lose a day or two’s worth of hard-earned earnings, or more? Are these really necessary?

It's quite easy to execute the laws because you think you have the power to do it. But oftentimes the lives of the poor and powerless are direly affected by it to a point they will lose or diminish what they earn each day leaving their families with less to eat. There must be some way the government can reconsider some of the laws’ provisions to make them more humane. Most bikers are not really those with flashy MTB’s wearing bright-colored Tour de France jerseys and tights, but bike-to-work laborers on the way to work. Let those with ?100T titanium bikes register theirs. Voluntarily.

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