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Long Beach bike-registration challenged

January 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Long Beach claims it's America's most "bicycle-friendly" city. But riders say officials are enforcing a little-known law that makes it tough on them, and could cost Long Beach that unofficial title. The wheels are in motion to change those regulations.It's a new kind of "bicycle road rage."

"I'm worried one of these days, one of these kids is going to run for it because he doesn't want to get a ticket, and he's going to get shot in the back," said Long Beach resident Gilda Ortiz.

The city of Long Beach, which calls itself "the most bicycle friendly city in America," has some residents questioning that claim due to the recent enforcement of a little-known municipal law that makes it mandatory for all bicycles to be registered at a local fire department.

"People don't care about this, nobody knows about this," said Long Beach resident Jim Clemson. "You have major cycling advocates here in Long Beach who found out at the same a lot of other people did, when these tickets were being written, that it's not optional."

"This is the city of Long Beach," said Long Beach resident Jerom Podgajski. "There are a lot bigger things going on than a group of bicyclists. And for them to use 20-plus squad cars and all this police presence for what? A group of bicyclists?"

The mandatory bike registration law has been on the books for years in Long Beach, and now, not only are bicyclists trying to put the brakes on it, but so are three Long Beach City Council members.

"I've heard of some people who have had to go to court on this where the fines have been up to $400 dollars, which is just unacceptable," said Long Beach City Councilman Robert Garcia.

Garcia has authored a new initiative to make bike registration voluntary. He says while the city has spent tens of millions of dollars on bike infrastructure, like creating a bike boulevard and painting green bike lanes on 2nd Street, he says this current registration law is taking the joy out of riding.

"We are a great city when it comes to cycling," said Garcia. "We accept all people to come and ride on our great streets but we have got to change the laws to make it better for the entire cycling community."

A final vote on the new law is expected sometime in the next 30 days.


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