New bill would require North Carolinians to register bicycles, pay fee

RALEIGH, N.C. — A new bill in North Carolina would require people in the state to register their bicycles with the Division of Motor Vehicles.

“It was a headscratcher," said Terry Lansdell, the head of BikeWalk NC, a bicycle safety advocacy group.

He was surprised when he learned Alexander County Rep. Jeffrey Elmore filed the bill on Monday.

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House Bill 157 would require anyone over 16 to register their bike at the DMV. It also sets an annual registration fee of $10.

Riders would also have to add a license plate to their bike, and anyone who doesn’t register could be fined $25.

Mark Anthony runs a barbershop next to the south Charlotte DMV office.

He told Channel 9 the DMV line stretches 70 to 80 yards out the door on Saturday mornings.

Wait times are often two to three hours.

If House Bill 157 passes, Lansdell said the current delays would only get worse.

He said, “The DMV is struggling to keep up with automobile registrations. Now, we’re going to add potentially millions of bike registrations on top of them?”

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The fees from House Bill 157 would be used for bike safety projects like the construction of more bike lanes.

Lansdell said it sounds good in theory, but he said other states have already discovered there isn't any money left from the bike tax by the time the state pays for the costs of enforcing it.

"The bike registration fees don't cover the costs of the registration process. It would overtax and overburden the DMV at this point," Lansdell explained.

He worries the bill would also hurt low-income workers in cities, who rely on bus and bike transport, because they can't afford a car.

If the bill passes, those who don’t register their bikes could face serious penalties.

In cities like New Orleans that have similar rules, bike infractions can actually count against your driver’s insurance.

Channel 9 tried emailing and calling Elmore's office several times on Tuesday to ask for the financial plan behind the bill.

We'll let you know what he says when we hear back from him.

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