Nova Scotia

Halifax bike licence plan gets no traction

A Dartmouth councillor thinks it's time to consider licensing adult cyclists who are 18 years old and older.

Staff dismissed the idea in 2009

Dartmouth Coun. Gloria McCluskey thinks it's time to consider licensing adult cyclists who are 18 years old and older. (CBC)

A Dartmouth councillor thinks it's time to consider licensing adult cyclists who are 18 years old and older.

"I think there would be more control over what they'd do. They'll be identified," said Gloria McCluskey.

"You're out there and you see them — no helmets, no lights."

McCluskey said the money raised from the licences could be used to pay for more bike lanes.

But the co-owner of Cyclesmith, a bike shop on Agricola Street in north-end Halifax, said he remembers when the city used to issue bike licences in the 1970s. Mark Beaver said the program was shut down because it cost more than it brought in.

Mark Beaver, the co-owner of Cyclesmith, said he remembers when the city used to issue bike licences in the 1970s and said the program was shut down because it cost more than it brought in. (CBC)

"I don't think it's going to work. It's going to probably end up being ignored by the majority of the population — the same way the dog licence bylaw is," he said.

Tristan Cleveland agrees. He's an urban planning expert with the Ecology Action Centre, as well as a cyclist. Cleveland points out there are many cities around the world that have safe and successful cycling programs that don't issue licences.

"Thousands and thousands of people biking don't have licences and they're actually very safe, so what are they doing there that makes it so safe?" he asked.

In 2005, a bikeways advisory committee studied the issue and decided not to recommend licensing for Halifax. Four years later, Coun. Krista Snow asked staff for a report on the issue. They concluded the idea was not worth
pursuing
.

"Costs associated with fees, plates, education and logistics may discourage cycling, which is contrary to the Active Transportation Plan," the report said at the time.

"Based on the evaluation of this committee, and no pressing need, staff do not intend to develop a process for the licensing of bicycles."

Emily MacDonald, a member of the Halifax Cycling Coalition, thinks safety education is a better way to go.

"I certainly think we should promote those programs that are out there," she said.

McCluskey plans to ask for a staff report on the licensing idea at the next council meeting on Dec. 2.

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