The Seattle Post-Intelligencer celebrated Christmas by publishing a thoughtful article on the idea of mandatory bicycle registration. There’s apparently been local debate on the subject, in part driven by motorists who believe bicyclists are not sharing the burden of road and facility maintenance.
Most cycling advocates will point out, as is done in this article by both advocates and by state legislators in Washington, that most bicyclists also own motor vehicles and are taxed via that means, as well as through contributions to general funds via property taxes and income taxes.
It’s important to recall that the cost of most roadway improvements is spread through multiple funding jurisdictions – local, state, and federal. It is a fallacy to believe that vehicle registration and gas taxes are majority funding sources for most road construction and repair.
Most mandatory registration programs for bicycles exist within limited geographic areas (college campuses are common), or mostly with a goal of helping to prevent bicycle theft and improve bicycle return when theft occurs. This is reasonable. The idea that licensing would significantly contribute to road funding — or reduce bicycle use — is bogus.