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Let’s talk about bike plates

Jody Vance: there really isn’t a good reason not to register bikes, other than we don’t already do it.

Today’s edition of The Middle begins with a clear statement: I think cycling is fantastic, I ride with pleasure, and use bike lanes.

This week’s topic will bring out the “ban all cars!” as well as “cycling activists have ruined our city” — go ahead and tweet @ me, because a big reason for cycling/bike lanes to hit The Middle is to find some.

To the joy of some and outrage of others, more and more of our roadways are making room for those who commute by bike.

We need to find a system that reflects our reality where responsible cyclists are rewarded, and bad apples are held to account.

The twist in my Middle is this: the increase of bike traffic has reached the point where we need a sincere discussion about some sort of registration for bikes.

There. I said it.

Bike licensing: it’s time.

It’s about accountability. If done right, respectful and rule-abiding cyclists can go about their business, with an easy online process akin to getting a dog license. If your brand of cycling includes following traffic rules, there really shouldn’t be any pushback.

On the other hand, abrasive pushback would be expected by the sometimes obnoxious, bombastic, and occasionally dangerous cyclist who feels that cars are evil, the people who use them are bad or wrong, and that cyclists, by definition, are never, ever in the wrong.

Licensing bikes means the latter would be hit squarely in the wallet, or worse.

More and more we hear horror stories of cyclist road rage and it protects the anonymous cyclist. We’ve all heard stories of the put-out road cyclist banging on hoods, breaking side mirrors — it has gotten out of hand. Currently, there is no recourse for the attacked driver and there should be. If someone did something dangerous, you simply record their plate number and report them – just like with cars.

Why wouldn’t we all want to have visible identifiers on bikes?

Sure, at first it will seem weird, getting little Johnny’s 10-speed registered, and attaching a little plate to the back of the seat with zap straps. But think how this process might imprint upon a young mind how rules apply to everyone sharing the road.

The naysayers often point that this would simply be a “government cash grab” — well, let’s find Middle on that.

Start the program at a nominal cost, perhaps only the cost to make a small plate. They could be available online or through City Hall; the very same program as licensing dogs. Mail out the plates. Once you have one, it’s yours for life. Like your Social Insurance Number for your ride.

Cyclists without them clearly visible get dinged for the dollars that can contribute to costs. Lawbreaker fines can add to revenue to keep bike lanes up to snuff.

I have three dogs. They’re licensed because as their owner, I need to be accountable – why not the same for bikes? Discuss.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.