News of Bicycle Registration Bill Spreads

3:55 PM, Oct 7, 2013   |    comments
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GAINESVILLE, Ga. (WXIA) -- There's a meeting tonight for people to share their thoughts on a new fee for bike riders.

Under a new bill, if you have a bicycle and fail to register it with the state and pay a fee, you could face a misdemeanor and a $100 fine. That isn't all that's in Georgia House Bill 689.

It also requires license plates to be put on any bike that shares a road with other vehicles. Groups of bicycle riders would have to stay in single file lines, no more than four cyclists per line, with four feet between each bike. 50 feet would have to separate each group of four riders.

The public hearing on the bill is tonight at 6 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center in Gainesville.

News of the law has spread all over the state through social media sites and chain emails within cycling groups.

"I've probably gotten about 25 emails about it in the past week," said cyclist Craig Forest on the Silver Comet Trail. "They tried it in San Diego and had to repeal it a year later. There would be widespread disobedience, it would be violated on an hourly basis with cyclists riding in groups."

Bikers in Gainesville, where the bill originated, said they were equally surprised by the bill.

"When I first saw it, I honestly thought it was a joke and something that was pretty crazy," said Kevin Mooney, a manager at Bike Town USA in Gainesville.

The bill has been put forward by three lawmakers from Gainesville. They are Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville), Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) and Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville). They declined to comment on the bill before a public hearing Monday night starting at 6pm in the Hall County Government Center.

The three men were reportedly influenced by local businessman Jim Syfan, of Syfan Logistics in Hall County. Syfan told 11Alive Thursday he had been pushing a bill like this for years.

"It's not meant to stop anyone from riding," Syfan said. "What it's meant to do is create an identification process."

Syfan said if every other wheeled vehicle on a state road has to be registered, why not bicycles?

"[Most bikers] are nice guys, they're people, but once in awhile you'll get a guy that will ride in the middle of the road and flip you off," Syfan said. "This is to identify the guys that are not abiding by the rules."

Syfan also said it's a safety issue. The more riders know they'll be accountable to the rules of the road, the more cautious they'll be.

Gainesville riders said social media sites had exploded with outrage when cyclists started hearing about HB 689. They plan to show up in numbers at the Monday meeting and bury the bill.

"I don't think it's something that's going to go anywhere, I think after the meeting on Monday it will fall through the cracks," Mooney said.

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