Tom Quirk said licensing would 'definitely' discourage people form riding. Photo: Jason South
A Melbourne council has been lampooned by cycling advocates and the RACV after petitioning for new laws requiring bicycles to be registered and cyclists to be licensed.
The Bayside City Council will ask the Municipal Association of Victoria to lobby the government for a major overall of cycling regulations. The borough is home to a popular weekend 17-kilometre run for cyclists, along Beach Road.
The council says if cyclists were forced to get a license or register their bikes, the police and the public could more easily identify cyclists who fail to adhere to the road rules. Its petition also calls for education programs to increase the awareness of the vulnerability of bicycle riders.
The proposal has been ravaged by the transport lobby, which says the reforms would be a huge and unnecessary cost for the state.
Bicycle Network Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan said the push to have bikes registered had long been a “dead duck”. He said almost every place in the world that had sought to implement the policy had later abandoned it.
“It’s too expensive and provides no benefits for the community,” he said.
“If you say there is a problem with people leaving the scene of an accident, the problem is with motorists. ”
Mr Brennan said Bayside Council had a history of being anti-cycling, resisting for many years a successful move to introduce morning no-stopping zones for cars on Beach Road. He said local council had consistently voted against it until the Labor government gave them the money for it.
Bayside mayor Laurence Evans said the council’s motion to the MAV was prompted by a number of crashes between cyclists, in which one of the cyclists had left the scene. He said in one of these cases his friend was left with multiple injuries.
But Cr Evans conceded the motion probably needed reworking, because the council was unsure what was the best way to address the “issue” of law-breaking cyclists. He said the council “loved” people riding through the municipality.
“What we’re really doing is asking the government to look into the issue because it’s not just our problem.”
Bayside resident, Tom Quirk, 20, said registration of bicycles or the licensing of cyclists was "terrible idea".
Mr Quirk has worked at O'Mara, a popular bike shop on Beach Road, for four years and said a licence process would “definitely” discourage people from riding.
"They should be trying to encourage people to get out and stay healthy," he said.
"A lot of people get a bike to commute because it is cheaper, but now it’s not going to be cheaper, it’s going to be expensive as well.”
RACV’s road and traffic manager, Dave Jones, said the peak motoring group did not support bike registrations or licences. Because cycling is enjoyed by people of all ages, he said it would be more practical to invest in road education and training rather than implement a licence system.