Queens Council Mem Eric Ulrich: Register Every Adult Who Rides a Bike

Looks like Queens Council Member Eric Ulrich has come down with a nasty case of legislative diarrhea. The Post reports on Ulrich’s belief that streets will be safer if cyclists are required to ride with ID tags:

In a bid to rein in rogue cyclists, all adult pedal pushers in the city will be required to get an ID tag affixed to their bikes if a city councilman has his way, The Post has learned.

Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) says he is floating the proposal — which would require a small fee — because “there seems to be a double standard when it comes to enforcing the traffic laws. Bicycles are involved in accidents, unfortunately, across this city.”

He added that many cyclists don’t have identification on them if they get into an accident because “they’re in Spandex or whatnot.”

Council Member Eric Ulrich should take some time to learn about what’s actually harming the residents of his district. Less than a week ago, an 81-year-old woman was critically injured when she was struck by a tow truck driver as she was crossing the street. What is Eric Ulrich doing to prevent the next serious injury or fatality on the streets in his district, which include roads with terrible safety records, like Woodhaven Boulevard?

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Fatal crashes in one portion of Eric Ulrich's district, 1995-2005. Image: CrashStat

The answer, apparently, is that Eric Ulrich wants to institute an expensive identification system, on top of existing ID mechanisms (because spandex-wearing cyclists can’t carry IDs), and mandate that every adult who rides a bike in New York City participate in this system. In these proposals, cyclists who don’t carry the requisite ID are usually subject to steep fines.

The net effect would probably be to greatly discourage cycling. Even if you don’t ride, that would mean more dangerous streets. As reported by Tom Vanderbilt, new research from Norman Garrick and Wesley Marshall, to be published in the Journal of Environmental Practice, has identified a link between higher rates of bicycle use and better safety rates for all road users.

Garrick and Marshall offer the following explanation:

Large numbers of bicycle users might also help shift the overall dynamics of the street environment – perhaps by lowering vehicle speeds but also by increasing driver awareness – toward a safer and more sustainable transportation system for all road users.

By the way, the idea that streets will be safer if cyclists are forced to register and carry special IDs recently cropped up in New Jersey. The state representative who proposed it had to walk back her bill one week after introducing it, following the barrage of criticism. New York livable streets advocates, can you top your counterparts in Jersey?