Should cyclists receive points on a license for traffic violations?

Today's really scary thing to think about is the idea of getting points on your driver's license for violating traffic laws on your bicycle, as a man in New York City currently faces.

Friday September 9th: bicycle ticket on a terror alert weekend
Source: @jfluck's flickr
His crime was not yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk, a violation that carries a $130 fine. The fine itself seems harsh enough, but then you consider the addition of three points on his license and things go a bit screwy.

Of course, it's just a technicality -- a clerical error, as the article explains. Points aren't supposed to occur on a license for violations on a bicycle. The problem is that the DMV's computers make no distinction between a car and a bicycle -- they simply see a traffic violation, pull up the license and act accordingly. It comes down to whether or not the law enforcement officers understand the law correctly. Therefore, it seems likely that the man will either be found not guilty, or the wheels of justice will see that he is fined, and nothing more.

The whole episode elicits some very fine questions, though. Here in Pennsylvania, bicycles are considered vehicles and are entitled to full use of public roadways. We have some leeway when it comes to where we can ride, but it's still illegal to blow stop signs and traffic lights. But should a cyclist receive points on their license for violating traffic laws? And considering the number of people who don't have a license, should a license be required to operate a bicycle?

Furthermore, what would be the age at which a license is required? How much would it cost to get and renew a license? Would requiring a license increase, or decrease, the number of people who choose to ride bicycles? What would be the benefits versus the costs of putting such a system in place?

Somehow, I just don't see requiring licenses to operate a bicycle as being a very good idea. That is, unless the fines and licensing costs were to go towards improving infrastructure, adding bicycle lanes and educating riders and drivers on how to properly share the road. There's definitely a lot to consider.


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