Students may have to open their wallets a little wider this year before they can bike to class.
Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) recently announced that it is raising the fees for bike registrations. New licenses will increase from $8 to $10 and a license renewal will increase from $4 to $5. This is the first fee hike for licenses since 2000.
Bicycle Program Coordinator for TAPS David Takemoto-Weerts said that the increase in license fees is necessary in order to support the increasing costs of maintaining the bicycle program.
“TAPS is a self-supporting program, which means that it does not receive any tax dollars,” he said. “The bicycle program receives some money from the revenue generated by parking fines, but it is primarily funded through the bike auctions and the sale of bike licenses. The cost of doing business is constantly going up and the fee hike reflects this.“
A bike license is valid until the end of the second year after it is purchased. All students are required to have a current license on their bike according to a university policy, which is intended to help TAPS deal with the large number of bikes on campus during the school year, Takemoto-Weerts said.
“It is really a matter of being able to identify who a bike belongs to,” he said. “During the course of the school year, (TAPS) is dealing with 15,000 to 20,000 bikes on campus. We have to deal with many bikes that are lost, stolen or illegally parked, so it is really helpful for us to identify bicycles through their registrations.“
Although TAPS does not impound bikes unless they are illegally parked or abandoned, it does require that students obtain a license before retrieving an impounded bike or before receiving any services from TAPS, such as lock-cutting, Takemoto-Weerts said.
“If we provided our lock-cutting services to unlicensed bikes, we have no way of knowing if the bike actually belongs to the student requesting the service … the policy is meant to protect students,” he said.
Takemoto-Weerts said that students can also be issued a “fix-it ticket” if they are pulled over for disobeying traffic laws on campus by a UCD police officer and have an unregistered bike. The fix-it ticket would require them to obtain a license and then show proof of the purchase to the police department.
Lieutenant Matthew Carmichael of the UC Davis police said bike licenses are particularly helpful for his department in recovering stolen bikes.
“Often times stolen bikes are recovered based on the fact they are actually registered which provides owner information just like a car,” he said. “Without this program I am confident our recovery rates would be much lower. It also reminds the would-be thief that this bike can be traced based on registration alone.“
However, some students still question the need for bike registrations.
“To be honest, I think it is really just an excuse for TAPS to make money,” said Patrick Hanners, a senior psychology major.
Hanners, who often builds bikes for himself and friends, said he disagrees with TAPS claim that licenses aid in bike retrieval.
“First of all, if you’re a smart thief, you are taking the registration sticker off the bike,” he said. “I almost guarantee that the [recovery rate for stolen bicycles] is no better for registered bikes.“
He also said that increasing the cost of licenses is only going to discourage students from purchasing them.
“There is already a low amount of compliance among students … many never register their bikes,” he said. “Raising the cost is only going to lower the compliance level.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at email@example.com.