Detroit to Crack Down on … Bicyclists?

Well, I heard about this from a co-worker yesterday, and I actually didn’t believe him until 3 other people chimed in and told me that it’s true (although they told me that the law was just passed) – apparently, Detroit (oh, well now we KNOW this will be good) has decided that they want to start enforcing some laws.  Great!  So, what laws?  It’s a 1964 ordinance that requires bicycles to be registered, and violators will be slapped with a $55 fine.  Police officers will start enforcement on August 7th.

The Detroit Police Department released a press release on Wednesday (I can’t find the full press release because they apparently don’t update their website for months at a time), saying, “Increased enforcement of the ordinance will … take place citywide in order to ensure that any stolen property is returned to its proper owner.  Enforcement will remain relaxed until Aug. 7, 2008, to allow bicycle owners an opportunity to register their bikes without penalty.”

Here are some responses to the new revelation from the city:

  • “You’d think the Detroit cops would have better things to worry about than giving out fines to people who don’t register their bikes.  This is just a way for them to get money out of people.  They want to get those fines.  What are they going to do?  Give tickets to little kids who are riding their bikes?  It’s ridiculous.”  Marv Adams, Detroit
  • “It’s not really a priority.”  Dearborn Police Lieutenant Wayne Seccombe
  • “If people want to, they can come in and we’ll give them a sticker, which will help us track down the bikes.  But we don’t require it.”  Ferndale Police Sergeant Vince Palazzolo
  • “Why are the police worrying about something like this?.  Are they going to start giving tickets to little kids?  Maybe the police ought to concentrate on getting rid of all the dope dealers and gangs, so the kids will have a safe place to ride their bikes.”  Evelyn Roark, Detroit
  • “I’ve had two cars stolen in the past five years, and I never even got a phone call back from the cops.  Maybe they ought to worry about getting stolen cars back instead of worrying about bikes.”  Tina Burse, Detroit
  • “If they start enforcing this, it would dissuade us from wanting to come into the city.  This can’t be a good thing for Detroit.  We come into the city and spend money.  We also help people get over their fears of the city.  If people see we aren’t afraid to ride our bikes into Detroit, maybe they won’t be afraid to drive their cars into Detroit.”  E.J. Levy, Southfield, a member of the Wolverine Sports Club and Cadieux Bicycling Club.
  • “Detroit is my favorite place to ride.  I like to go to the RiverWalk, and the Conner Creek Greenway.  It would be a shame if they start enforcing this ordinance, and people stop riding their bikes in the city.”  Todd Scott, Royal Oak, Detroit Greenways coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

Detroit Police spokesman James Tate later clarified the intent of the enforcement, saying, “We’re trying to get people to register their bikes.  We’ve got hundreds of bikes piled up with no way of knowing who they belong to.  The idea isn’t to start handing out tickets to little kids on tricycles.  We’re supposed to enforce the ordinances that are on the books.”

Now, normally I’d be all FOR enforcing ordinances like this (and ALL ordinances for that matter), but enforcing this ordinance, under current circumstances, would NOT be legal?  Why?

Let’s go on a magical journey to the Michigan Compiled Laws, Chapter 257, Act 300 of 1949 (Michigan Vehicle Code), Section 257.606:

Act 300 of 1949

257.606 Regulation of streets or highways under jurisdiction of local authority and within reasonable exercise of police power; stop sign or traffic control device requiring state trunk line highway traffic to stop; approval; posting signs giving notice of local traffic regulations; providing by ordinance for impounding of motor vehicle parked contrary to local ordinance; bond or cash deposit.


Sec. 606.

(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be considered to prevent local authorities with respect to streets or highways under the jurisdiction of the local authority and within the reasonable exercise of the police power from:

(i) Regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.

(3) An ordinance or regulation enacted under subsection (1)(a), (d), (e), (f), (g), (i), or (j) shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected [emphasis mine], as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. The posting of signs giving the notice shall not be required for a local ordinance which does not differ from the provisions of this act regulating the parking or standing of vehicles; nor to ordinances of general application throughout the jurisdiction of the municipalities enacting the ordinances which prohibit, limit, or restrict all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, if signs, approximately 3 feet by 4 feet, sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person, giving notice of these ordinances relating to all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, are posted on highways at the corporate limits of the municipality.

And do they have those signs?  No.

Attorney Michael Salhaney, Birmingham’s lawyer, said, “In Detroit, it would be a daunting task to post signs on every street where the ordinance is enforced.”

My rule on laws: Enforce them.  If they’re laws you can’t legally enforce / choose not to enforce – take them off the books.  So, either take this law off the books or don’t enforce it.  In other words, take it off – it’s a waste of money to enforce this.  They may make money off of tickets, but they’ll lose bikers coming in and the signs / upkeep/replacement of the signs will be too costly.

It’s a stupid law, make registration voluntary!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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2 Responses to “Detroit to Crack Down on … Bicyclists?”

  1. Calvin Says:

    I remember as a child living in a suburb of Detroit going down to the police station to register my bike! It was a waste of time then, and it will be a waste of time now.

  2. inkslwc Says:

    I see no reason it should be mandatory – if you REALLY care about your bike, you’ll register it on your own, if you don’t care if it gets stolen, why should the City of Detroit? I guess this is more of my libertarian side showing itself.

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