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One of two bike registration bills withdrawn

Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo talks to the media about a proposed bill to register bicycles. She brought with her a red tricycle that used to belong to her 25-year-old son Patrick. Standing behind Dinolfo is Wayne County Clerk Michael Jankowski. Denise M. Champagne

Queens Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker is withdrawing his proposed legislation to register private bicycles, but plans to pursue licensing of commercial bikes.

DenDekker’s announcement Thursday came three hours after Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo and three other county clerks held a press conference to announce their opposition to the downstate Democrat’s bill that called for the annual registration and inspection of all personal bikes, which would be equipped with a license plate. The cost would be $25 the first year and $5 annually thereafter.

“I am withdrawing proposed legislation A. 5429.” DenDekker wrote. “I introduced this bill in response to numerous complaints from my constituents regarding bicyclists who were not following local and state laws, and causing dangerous conditions for pedestrians and motorists alike.  In this way, the original intent of this bill was to enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety through increased accountability.  However, we will now explore future options to achieve stricter enforcement of the bicycle regulations.”

David Longshore, DenDekker’s press secretary, said the withdrawal has nothing to do with critics.

“We actually had a lot of people who were for it,” he said. “He just feels that the bill needs more work. We’re going to be looking at other options.”

Dinolfo, carrying a red tricycle that once belonged to her 25-year-old son Patrick, met outside her office with the media and Wayne County Clerk Michael Jankowski, Livingston County Clerk James A. Culbertson and Cayuga County Clerk Susan M. Dwyer who agreed the proposal is an Albany “money-grab” for the cash-strapped state.

“I honestly can’t believe we need to be discussing this issue today,” Dinolfo said, noting it would cost $100 for a family of four at a time when people are trying to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental awareness. She also pointed to the rising cost of gas as an incentive for many people to hop on a bike, “but if you ride your bike, we’re going to tax that too. This kind of legislation actually threatens each and every one of us.”

Dinolfo called on lawmakers to fix the budget and make tough decisions on what to cut and reduce taxes.

“This legislation just proves that they just don’t get it,” Dwyer said. “Stop creating taxes and cut spending.”

Culbertson called the proposal “ridiculous” and said he wished the state would work on reducing the budget and state mandates.

Dinolfo said the legislation includes nothing about enforcement or how to pay for the licensing. The suggested Vehicle & Traffic Law amendments would likely go through the Department of Motor Vehicles, of which county clerks serve as agents.

“If you’re not courageous enough to reduce spending, you have to have money,” Dinolfo said. “We encourage those in charge of the budget to take a look at it and make cuts. It’s really no wonder people pack up and leave New York state.”

When asked if the law has a chance of passing, Jankowski said it has been introduced by a majority member of the assembly.

“You always need to worry about anything that’s got legs,” Culbertson said. “It creates a whole [other] administrative arm.”

He said if there are problems with bicycles in parts of the state, to let local municipalities pass their own laws.
Yates County Clerk Julie Betts, Ontario County Clerk Jack Cooley and Steuben County Clerk Judy Hunter also expressed their opposition, according to a Dinolfo release.

DenDekker estimated the proposal would raise $1.875 million the first year and annual revenue of $375,000.

Longshore said DenDekker is moving ahead with his second bill which applies to people riding bikes for commercial purposes who would have to pay $50 to register their rides. Registrants would be issued registration cards which they would have to carry while riding for commercial purposes. They would also have to obtain liability insurance.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Transportation.

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