Susanna Rovins (3rd from left) bikes at the Linwood Bike Path with her family, (l-r) Anna, 16, husband, Mitch, Sacha, 8,(hidden) and Emme, 12. Sunday May 16 2010. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Bicyclists may have to get in line at the local Motor Vehicle Commission office, if a proposed bill becomes law.

The bill would require people to register their bicycles with the MVC or pay a fine of up to $100. Children younger than 15 could rely on their parents or guardians to register the bike for them.

In exchange, the state would provide license plates for bicyclists that would have to be displayed while using any public road or land in New Jersey. While the registrations would be good for two years, the bill said the state could could charge fees of as much as $10 per year.

Bicycle owners would have to provide the bike's make, model, color, year of manufacture and weight when they register, as well as its serial number, address of the owner, date of purchase and amount of New Jersey sales tax paid.

People who falsify the registration would face fourth-degree charges, which in New Jersey can lead to up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

At the AAAA Bike Shop in Ventnor, owner Mike Wiesen said he thought the registry was a great idea because it would help police track stolen bicycles.

"I firmly believe in it," said Wiesen, who said his company registers the serial numbers of each of the bikes he sells.

But at Pro Pedals in Hammonton, owner Jeanne Bradley said she thought the registry would only be a hassle.

"My opinion is it would be more paperwork, but it would cost more than it was worth," she said.

A number of cities around the country, particularly college towns, promote voluntary bicycle registration through the police department, in hopes of combating bike theft. In New Jersey, police at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and Galloway Township, home of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, offer free registration programs.

However, unlike cars, few places actually require the registration of bicycles.

One exception is Honolulu, which requires the owner of all bikes with wheels larger than 20 inches to pay a one-time fee of $15, with the money going to transportation improvements.

Similarly, cities in California can compel bicyclists to register their bikes, with the goal of setting up and running an anti-theft registry. In Berkeley, Calif., unregistered bicyclists face $10 fines, although both Los Angeles and San Jose have dropped registration requirements in recent years.

The bill, introduced Jan. 6, was proposed by Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker, D-Essex. She did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

Contact Derek Harper:


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