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WTF? Jail or $1000 Fine For Not Having A Bicycle License-Resident Or Not!

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Well this one takes the cake on stupid laws. Brought to our attention by an article on LAist… Apparently, a 1995 law in Santa Monica allows police to throw any cyclist, even if not a Santa Monica resident, in jail for not having a bicycle license– and/or issue a fine up to $1000. Of note is the disparity between this law for cyclists and the one for car drivers who do not have a displayed license tag.

Click on ‘more’ for more on this issue.

The article states that police are currently enforcing this law, however, officials there say it is mainly for use in recovering stolen bicycles. According to bicycle blogger Alex Thompson, recent use of the law has targeted the homeless and a Critical Mass a few years ago.

A rep from the Santa Monica License Division was quoted as saying that anyone can send the city $3 and an application and the city will issue a license “as a courtesy”.

Interesting to note that a 1996 California law contradicts this one stating that the law should only apply to residents of Santa Monica and not residents of other cities that are passing through on their bikes. On top of that, the California Vehicle Code states that, in regards to bicycle licensing, no fine should exceed $10.

(photo above by GarySe7en of the December 2007 Critical Mass in Santa Monica, his blog, Gary Rides Bikes, also covers this issue)

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14 years ago

That is the way it should be LAW is the LAW !
I am a cyclist and want to share the road so i am not opposed to this at all if cyclist want that right they have to abide by the laws too!

14 years ago

I don’t know, Brian. Driving licenses are issued as a privilege not a right. People have to study, practice, and pass various written, vision, and driving tests. Wanting cyclists to have a thorough knowledge of the traffic laws is, of course, desirable. But how do you create and implement a law for bicycles? Age limits, test requirements, and other criteria that determine eligibility pose serious logistical issues. The concept of not being allowed to ride my bike is mind bottling; so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle. Was anyone who sent the city $3 eligible?

It appears that the program was suspended early this year in order to rethink its implementation. I look forward to seeing what become of it. At present, it seems almost ridiculous.

14 years ago

go figure the people’s republic of santa monica

Anonymous Biker
Anonymous Biker
14 years ago

Give me a break. This law is designed to give cops a way to detain/search cyclists they “know ” are up to something, but are not actually breaking any laws. Brian I hope you end up on the wrong end of a cop one day and find out all laws are not for the greater good!

Alex Thompson
14 years ago

Y’all – I gotta come in here and let you know that I cannot confirm that homeless have been hassled using this law. I misread something that said “laws of this type have been used to hassle the homeless” as “this law has been used to hassle the homeless.” That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been used in that fashion, but it does mean I can’t confirm it at this time. My apologies.

Regardless, the law is ridiculous, and we’ll be working to change it.

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