Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bike registration continued: the real source of the problem

Eric Ulrich, lawmaker from Queens, is "floating the proposal" that all cyclists pay for mandatory bicycle registration.

Ulrich is the Republican/New York complement to Cleo Tucker's Democratic/New Jersey anti-bike agenda, proving that Bike Hating is a bi-partisan issue behind which we all can get.

It goes without saying that we are witnessing the beginnings of a movement. A movement no doubt masterminded by the most paranoid, anti-bicycle conspiracy theorist of our time.

Dan Maes. Is Crazy.

Yes, you can almost hear the sound of Dan "Corny" Maes' weird grin all the way up in Evergreen, Colorado. Deep down in the Maes Cave, in the center of a nondescript Evergreen cornfield, Maes is accumulating politicians by the handful and is encouraging them to introduce anti-bike legislation in order to cull the Red Threat.

In the article, both of the city of Denver's stated reasons to register a bike are addressed with varying degrees of bizarritude.
  1. The recovery of a stolen bicycle. Ulrich himself couldn't offer us a way that this law could actually benefit actual cyclists. It was left up to a gentleman named One Biker (aka Audio "Engineer Chvad" Bernhard) to find one.
    One biker saw an upside, saying lost or stolen bikes could be identified. "Right now, [recovered] bicycles just get auctioned" by police, said audio engineer Chvad Bernhard, 37.
  2. The identification of an injured cyclist. Okay, so in a weird backhanded kind of way, Ulrich conveys concern for cyclists here. His proposal will help identify cyclists, which cannot at present be done because
    many cyclists don't have identification on them if they get into an accident because "they're in Spandex or whatnot."
    It is absolutely, entirely true that all cyclists are at all times either in Spandex or in whatnot. Whatnot, in my case = corduroy slacks and a long sleeved cotton t-shirt. But neither my corduroy slacks nor my long sleeved cotton t-shirt prevent me from carrying identification.

    Furthermore, look at the picture included in the article.

    Does it look like this cyclist is prevented by his whatnot from carrying anything whatsoever?
But none of this is even the interesting part.

The interesting part is this. Both Ulrich and Tucker say their legislation was inspired by frightened, elderly constituents.

In New Jersey:
[Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex)] proposed it after several senior citizens in Belleville and Bloomfield called her to complain about kids on bikes. "They had been knocked down, knocked over and they had no way to register a complaint. They couldn’t identify the person," said Tucker.

In New York:
Ulrich says that many of his constituents are seniors and that "people on bicycles scare the hell out of them. Sometimes they can be an intimidating presence on the city streets."

So what we obviously have here is perception problem. The perception that Evil Mastermind Dan Maes wants us all to believe is that old people are being intimidated and tipped over by cyclists.

In reality, the truth is that old people are slow moving and easily startled, and are better off doing laps around the mall.

Frankly, old people scare the hell out of me. Sometimes, when they wander into the middle of city streets, they can be an intimidating presence.

What I'd like to see is a piece of legislation requiring that old people be registered and stickered at the DMV so I have some way of identifying and reporting them when they wander into traffic.

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