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Dear Mahatma: Would it be unreasonable to require bicyclists to help pay for all the bike trails and bike lanes in the Little Rock area by requiring bike registration fees? -- Non-Cycler Bill

Dear Bill: Our first reaction to this idea was that registering bicycles is nonsensical.

Ha! As The Fabulous Babe often says -- wrong again.

There are indeed cities around this great nation that require bicycles to be registered. As in, Honolulu.

In that Hawaiian city, all bicycles with wheels 20 inches or larger are required to be registered. A one-time fee is $15; when ownership of a bicycle is transferred, the fee is $5.

The owner gets a decal to be affixed to the bicycle frame's seat tube facing in the forward direction. Bicycle registration is administered by the city's Department of Customer Services, which we believe every city should have. Money raised goes to projects that improve and enhance bicycling.

Wait. We're wrong again. Or incomplete., the official website of the Aloha State, reports that bicycle registration is statewide, and is administered -- in addition to Honolulu -- by the state's three counties.

But your question -- is it unreasonable to license bicycles in these parts and use the fees for bike trails and bike lanes?

Darned if we know. That's both a legal question and a political question.

We have scoured the state's transportation code (fee is $1.50 an hour, based on our expertise) and find nothing that would allow or prohibit a municipality from imposing a fee. Please note, our law degree came from the back of a box of Rice Krispies.

The political part is more interesting. Could the Little Rock City Board of Directors, or the North Little Rock City Council, be persuaded to impose licensing and fees? Could the General Assembly be persuaded to pass legislation that specifically gives counties and municipalities the authority to license bicycles and assess fees?

Exercise your constitutional right to petition government, dear reader. Please keep us informed.

Dear Mahatma: Driving Interstate 30 between Little Rock and Benton there are signs that say "Trucks Use Two Right Lanes." Is this a law, or a kind suggestion? Every time I drive this span of I-30, trucks are using all lanes. Just wondering. -- Karen

Dear Karen: Jay Thompson, chief of the Arkansas Highway Police, tells us this is not a suggestion. And that his agency -- whose main mission is enforcement of laws pertaining to commercial trucking and roadways -- has issued nearly 500 citations so far this year for disobeying a traffic control device, some of which were for truckers who failed to heed this particular admonishment.

He also urges regular folks to share the road with truckers. His officers sometimes see noncommercial vehicles failing to give truckers the opportunity to move over on this part of I-30 by passing in the right two lanes.

In other words, people, share the road.

Vanity plate on a Mercedes: JOBLESS.

Metro on 10/13/2018

Print Headline: Bike fees? A 2-sided question

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  • TomHoneycutt
    October 13, 2018 at 6:28 a.m.

    Great to see Drivetime Mahatma now has a teaser at the top of the online page. After the redesign it was (Grawlix) difficult to find the column. Even using the useless search feature would result in two dozen results with the day's column #23 in the queue.
    Tom Honeycutt
    Fort Smith, Arkansas

  • PopMom
    October 13, 2018 at 7:49 a.m.

    We the people are tired of being taxed for every dang thing. We also are tired of standing in lines and dealing with bureaucracy. It's a big NO to the bike tax.

    October 13, 2018 at 7:52 a.m.

    How 'bout a state issued bicycle license plate just like cars and motorcycles? Registration and fuel taxes are how we pay for roads - and bicycle trails. Bicycles claim a "right" to the road, yet they haven't paid into the fund that builds and maintains them. NO! Some bicycle owner's having a car and paying for roads for a car doesn't count. By that logic I should only have to register one of my cars since the other would be covered.

    If bicycles want to take part of the pavement away from the vehicles users who paid for it they should pay for extra pavement for bike lanes and trails. They might also consider observing the traffic laws that motorists follow, too (some do, many do not).

  • FreshAir
    October 13, 2018 at 9:02 a.m.

    Sure thing on the bike registration fees. Let's do that right after gun owners have to buy a license or pay a registration fee for all firearms. Why should my tax dollars have to be used for schools to protect my kids from gun nuts instead of going towards their actual education? Shouldn't gun owners pay more of their share?

    That's the way a civil society works, friends. Sometimes tax expenditures benefit us, sometimes they don't. But, contribute collectively because like it or not, we're all in it together.

    One last thing, you should do some research on cities across America who have invested in things like biking/hiking trails. It more than pays for itself time and time again with the economic development it cultivates. Not to mention the benefits that come from encouraging (and making more accessible) an active lifestyle. It's also attractive to businesses looking to relocate and we need more of both in Arkansas.

    The point is, even if you don't use the bike trails, you will benefit from them in other ways. That's how society works.

  • Popsmith
    October 13, 2018 at 1:24 p.m.

    Maybe bicyclists who use roads designed for cars and trucks should have some kind of licensing requirement kinda like testing for a non-commercial driver's license. Just to be sure they understand the rules of the road.
    On the other hand, fees and licensing might discourage the use of bicycles.
    Sounds like a question that needs statistical study.