A plan to license bicycles as though they were cars has run out of gas in San Jose, with the city expected to abandon the practice this week.
The requirement has been on the books since 1974, but few people participated. It was a money-losing program, charging just $2 to register a bike and $3 to renew. Although there are hundreds of thousands of bikes in San Jose, the program made less than a thousand dollars last year.
And it's unclear how that money was spent. The purpose of the program is to maintain a database of serial numbers so that bikes can be returned to their owners in the event of theft. But an audit recently found that no such database exists. Police explained that they were too short-staffed to create it, and that the money collected was kept in an unsecure location.
There are alternatives to cities' ineffective licensing program. The National Bike Registry allows bicyclists to enter their bikes into a database that is accessible to law enforcement anywhere in the country. In contrast to San Jose, the national registry doesn't just say that they'll create a database -- they actually have one.
And of course, you could always just photograph your serial number.
But even with San Jose's bike-licensing scam coming to an end, there are still plenty of quirky licensing laws still on the books. Foster City wants to limit the number of dogs you can bring into a park to three.