The Detroit News ran an article today about Detroit Police plans to ticket cyclists in Detroit on unlicensed bikes:
In a city that has one of the nation’s highest crime rates, Detroit cops have been given the order to start cracking down on unregistered bicycles.
Starting Aug. 7, officers will start issuing $55 tickets if bikes are unregistered. The dollar-a-year licenses are good for five years.
“You’d think the Detroit cops would have better things to worry about than giving out fines to people who don’t register their bikes,” said Detroiter Marv Adams, 56.
But it’s not enforceable
But the real story is the law is unenforceable under state law.
To begin with MCL 257.606 sub-section (1)(i) states that local authorities can “[Regulate] the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.” The CIty of Detroit can require bicycle licenses.
However, MCL 257.606 sub-section (3) says that such a requirement “shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected, as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.”
Detroit does not have any such signage nor have we heard of any plans to add any. Posting such signs around all the major city entrances would involve a major cost. I am unaware of any city within Michigan that has taken such a drastic step to make bike license registration an enforceable ordinance.
The Detroit Chief of Police has been alerted to the state law.
The Detroit News expects to run a follow up story tomorrow. They have received considerable feedback on this. Needless to say, this police announcement has not made very many people happy.
In these times of high fuel prices and people looking at alternative means of getting around, we shouldn’t be looking to penalize those riding bikes in Detroit.