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March 10th, 2010 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know

     
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How come bicyclists don’t need licenses and can’t get tickets? If we’re going to spend gazillions of dollars building bike lanes, can’t we also make cyclists follow the rules of the road?

—Curmudgeon in NE

“We do absolutely cite bicyclists,” says PPB spokeswoman Mary Wheat. But you must know that. What I think you’re really asking is why those tickets can’t ever add up to a suspension: Since you don’t need a license to bike, you can’t lose it no matter how appallingly you ride.

As more and more people bike, won’t the state’s inability to regulate them eventually result in anarchy, chaos and critical shortages of Soylent Green at Plaid Pantries statewide?

I thought this was a good, reasonable question. Then again, I’m sick, and I must be kinda loopy, because City Hall, the DMV, the BTA and the cops all seemed to think the question was pretty idiotic. While cities have toyed with registering the bikes themselves as a revenue grab, not even rule-happy China licenses the rider.

I like you, Curmudgeon. Have some NyQuil. See, our problem is we think that the traffic laws exist to punish people who annoy us, when in fact they’re to keep us from getting killed. As one city official put it, “A car is a weapon in a way that a bicycle just isn’t.” As galling as scofflaw cyclists are, they’re not that dangerous.

So can jerky riders be jerks forever, with complete impunity? Well, there is a theoretical limit: Moving violations on a bike go on your driving record, and if you rack up enough, you can lose your motor vehicle privileges. This is true even if you don’t have a driver’s license. You can lose your eligibility to drive, even if you don’t drive now. Even if you’re, like, 12. The DMV sees all.

 
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