Breaking News: LAPD Recommends Discontinuing Bike License Program

In a report to the City Council, Chief William Bratton of the LAPD recommends to the City Council the discontinuation of the wildly unpopular bicycle licensing programming and announces that the LAPD will no longer enforce bicycle licensing unless the Los Angeles City Council. That the Council would push for the implementation of this program seems unlikely as two councilmembers basically yelled at an LAPD representative to kill the program when the LAPD was still defending it.  The City Council Transportation Committee will hear the LAPD’s reccomendations next Wednesday.

However, just to make sure there is no confusion as to the LAPD’s intent, here is the exact wording from the report:

I recommend that we follow other large municipalities and discontinue our bicycle licensing program. Additionally, I have directed that Emergency Operations Division develop correspondence implementing an immediate moratorium on the enforcement of Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) section 26.01 requiring that all bicycles within the City be licensed. It is important to note that per Information and Communications Services Bureau, they were only able to identify five such citations issued by Department personnel. If this recommendation is approved, the Department will move forward with eliminating the City’s bicycle licensing requirement (LAMC section 26.01).

Reaction to this afternoon’s news has been quick as the Los Angeles
County Bike Coalition has already thanked and congratulated everyone
in getting this law repealed.  Executive Director Jennifer Klausner

LACBC was very pleased to see the correspondence from LAPD today and we
thank all the agencies and individuals involved in conducting the
research that lead to this decision.

Over at Midnight Ridazz they are slightly more succinct.  A poster going by i_junes responds to the news by simply posting:


If you’re new to Streetsblog and want to read why everyone is so happy, read on after the jump:

Late in the summer of 2008, Roadblock, one of the organizers for the Midnight Ridazz, was ticketed for not having a properly licensed bicycle while observing the police ticket another rider.  This led to a reaction of both confusion and anger from almost all parts of the disparate bicycle community with some preaching defiance of the law, some anger at the LAPD and many confusion that there was a requirement to have a bike licensed in Los Angeles.

Bike activists and bloggers got to work investigating the law.  What we discovered was the LAPD did indeed have statutory power to ticket people for not having a bike license, but the maximum fine was $10, not the nearly $200 that Roadblock received.  While the cost of getting a license sticker for your bike was only $2 a verhicle, licenses weren’t available at most precincts ever and not at consistent hours at the few that did distribute them.  The Midnight Ridazz organized a ride to one of precincts that did license with 50 riders and shortly thereafter, that precinct ran out of licenses.

When the City Council Transportation Committee questioned the police about the program, LAPD Deputy Chief Paysinger seemed confused as to what was happening on the streets.  He came prepared to discuss protecting children’s bikes from theft and instead ended up hearing a laundry list of complaints about the program from literally a hundred cyclists.  Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Bill Rosendahl requested that the program be suspended, but Paysinger refused promising to update the program early this year.

And update it they have.  The report, dated December 29, 2008, effectively ends this feud between cyclists and the LAPD.  Hopefully it is the start of a better relationship in the year to come.

Any comments on this story will be printed and handed to the Council Members at Wednesday’s hearing.

  • Dare I say it —-


    Pretty impressive victory!

    Hopefully this goes through, cuz, um, I haven’t licensed any of my bikes quite yet….


    39001. (a) The department shall procure and distribute bicycle license indicia and registration forms to all counties and cities which have adopted a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution.

    This law is still on the books. Further, it is a state law which requires businesses to register bikes with the “licensing agency” in their area.

    Bike shops are still breaking the law be default (for that matter anyone selling a bike is) and so are bike riders. This is a bad situation that can only by truly fixed with legal changes (i.e. Removing LAMC 26.01).

    If that is too much to ask for, then, “Victory!” it is, I guess.

  • Interesting. Perhaps now we need to lobby to remove LAMC 26.01 altogether.

    I would say, for all intents and purposes, this is a victory for the cycling community. I would not stop here, though, as there is still so much for us to do to make LA a safer place for people to ride bikes.

    I would go with ubayj02- we got something, but let’s push harder now.

  • Personally, I’m not opposed to a legitimate licensing program, but this clearly wasn’t it. If they want to establish a real program, in which it’s easy to license your bike, and any funds raised are used to pay for improving cycling infrastructure, we can talk.

    Until then, good riddance.

  • Congrats, LA! This is surprisingly similar to what happened in Detroit last summer. We had a very similar licensing requirement, though our fines were $55. We had the entire licensing ordinance removed and replaced with a voluntary program.

    Additional details are on the m-bike blog:

  • I still think the sudden enforcement of the law predominately downtown had to do primarily with giving cops a tool to harass the area’s homeless, its messengers, and perhaps to a lesser extent any group night rides that came through there.

    I’m with BikinginLA, there’s a need for a legitimate licensing program whose funds are dedicated to bike projects, the first of which should be to take down every fucking ambiguous BIKE ROUTE sign and replace it with one that reads BIKES ALLOWED FULL USE OF LANE.

  • What is needed is not a licensing program–bicycling need not be licensed any more than walking does–but a voluntary bike registration program to aid in recovering stolen bikes. Of course a crappy peel-off sticker won’t do much for that, but a database of serial numbers and descriptions that cops could check against–or for that matter bike shops, when accepting a job for repair. Similar to Stolen Bike Registry but more organized.

    It’s plain that the cops were using this law to harass cyclists who looked anti-establishment. I doubt many corporate warrior types on Cervelos were pulled over for a license check!

  • enforcing the licenses was a last grasp effort for LAPD to have some sort of countermeasure midnight ridazz et al. nothing more. good riddance

  • Not the original AT

    Sorry, I must disagree with Ubrayj02.

    CVC code 39001 is not a requirement for cities and counties, but a requirement for the state to provide licenses to those cities and counties that do require licenses.

    The operative regulation is actually CVC 39002 which states
    “(a) A city or county, which adopts a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution, may provide in the ordinance or resolution that no resident shall operate any bicycle, as specified in the ordinance, on any street, road, highway, or other public property within the jurisdiction of the city or county, as the case may be, unless the bicycle is licensed in accordance with this division.”

    Of course, I am not a lawyer, so take from it what you will. Just don’t call it legal advice.

  • Not the original AT

    On second thought. Ubrayj02 is correct. The (city) law is still on the books. It is just no longer being enforced.

  • Bill Birney

    Will said:
    BikinginLA, there’s a need for a legitimate licensing program whose funds are dedicated to bike projects, the first of which should be to take down every fucking ambiguous BIKE ROUTE sign and replace it with one that reads BIKES ALLOWED FULL USE OF LANE.

    I’m with you Will. InN fact, even that could be made clearer. IN B.C. at least, cyclists can take the lane any time they feel that that is necessary for safety. So maybe it could read SHARE THE ROAD (with an appropriate sing showing a car behind a bicycle), or better, CYCLISTS USE FULL LANE with similar signage.


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