Rowan commissioner wants state to consider making bike riders be licensed, have insurance, registration

Published: Sep. 17, 2014 at 1:30 PM EDT
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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A list of priorities that Rowan County commissioners sent to a state association this week included one that is getting a lot of attention.

Commissioner Craig Pierce says that he thinks anyone who rides a bicycle on a state highway and/or bike lane should be required to pay property taxes, register the bikes, and pay liability insurance.

"I think that these dollars being spent on bike lanes, they should step up and have the same requirements as motor vehicles," Pierce said.  "I don't think that's too much too ask.  If they don't want to do that then let's not build the bike lanes.  Let's not put that additional traffic in jeopardy with the people driving motor vehicles."

The proposal from Pierce, along with others mentioned by commissioners, was sent to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.  Each proposal will be assigned to a specific committee and reviewed.  The proposals could be voted on in January by county representatives.

Pierce says the idea came to him during a recent beach trip.

"My initiative is that all people that are using bicycles on state and federal highways need to have a driver's license, they need to have their bicycles registered, they need to have liability insurance, and they need to pay property tax on it," Pierce said.

"And of course I would probably put a limit that you would have to be 18 years or older for this to apply, but my concerns are, and I ran into this when I went down to the coast and bought a golf cart, that's what made me think about it, because when you buy a golf cart you can buy them with two or three different legal capabilities."

"One says that it's beach legal, which means you can ride it on the side streets up and down but you don't have to carry insurance and it doesn't have to be licensed.  But if you want to be able to cross a state highway, not talking about a highway that you ride up and down at 55 miles an hour, but if you want to cross that state highway, you have to have what's known as an LSV, low speed vehicle, you have to put a tag on it, it has to be inspected, it has to have seatbelts, it has to have lights, it has to have turn signals, has to have rearview mirror, it has to have a horn, has to have a windshield wiper, all that simply because you're going to cross that state highway.  Basically it becomes an electric vehicle."

"With all that being said, I'm sitting around in my golf cart one day and I'm watching all these people riding up and down that state highway on these rental bicycles and I'm thinking to myself well if they run into an automobile out here there's no insurance on that bicycle, it's not registered to anybody."

"These people might not even have a driver's license, yet we're taking our state and federal tax dollars, going out here and developing bike lanes for all these people to have places to ride bicycles which puts an enormous of traffic on the highways especially in your urban areas and yet they've got no liability at all if they damage someone else's vehicle or even if they run into each other."

"I just don't see the logic in taking federal and state tax dollars to develop these highways and then not requiring those people on those highways to abide by the same rules that the motor vehicles do, I don't understand it."