Responding to a cycling boom in northern Georgia, a bill introduced in the state house would require bicyclists to purchase license plates and limit how and where they ride.
Cycling is booming in north Georgia, says lawmaker Carl Rogers -- and that's a problem. Photo: Southeast Discovery
House Bill 689 was purportedly introduced in response to complaints from north Georgia drivers, whose chief grievance seems to be that it is inconvenient to encounter cyclists on the road at all. Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, who introduced the bill, believes cycling is so popular in the area that things are getting out of hand. Said Rogers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “On these narrow mountain roads and on state roads, the traffic can be heavy. The mountain roads have become especially a problem because the (bike) clubs are moving up there.”
The legislation would require cyclists to purchase a $15 annual registration, to be displayed on a license, or face a misdemeanor offense and a $100 fine. The law would prohibit cyclists from riding more than four in a row single file, and would allow the state and localities to “restrict when and where cycling is allowed.”
“It looks like the purpose of the bill is to allow motorists to drive as quickly as possible and prioritizes eliminating a moment’s delay or ‘inconvenience’ over another person’s fundamental safety,” said statewide advocacy group Georgia Bikes! in a statement.
The group added that the law would discourage a healthy and inexpensive form of transportation:
The reason we tax, register, and require licenses for motorists is because cars are inherently dangerous and create negative externalities and social impacts (congestion, sprawl, physical inactivity, air pollution, crashes, fatalities, road wear & tear, etc, etc). A bicycle does none of these things, and in fact is a common sense solution to many of these problems.
In a bit of unintended hilarity, Rogers says funds from his bike ban law could be used to make cycling safer — which, of course, tends to encourage cycling.
A public hearing on the bill was scheduled for today in Gainesville. Any bill has a two-year period in which it can be taken up by the general assembly. However, the AJC called the bill a “long shot,” and noted that when lawmakers return from recess in January it will be an election year, which will make instituting new fees less politically palatable. In addition, the head of the Georgia Senate, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, is an “avid cyclist,” according to the AJC.
Georgia Bikes! Executive Director Brent Buice said the group doubts the bill will ever become law or even come up for a vote, but it is watching the case closely.