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Berkeley Bicycle Licensing and $220 Fines 4

UC Berkeley Bicycle Impounded

Photo “Temporary Imprisonment” by Daniel Miller on Flickr

UC Berkeley has been in the spotlight recently for its outrageous fines targeting bicyclists. Students have been written $220 tickets for locking their bicycles to a railing instead of a bicycle rack. Others have been fined $220 for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or for riding through a “dismount” zone.

These ludicrous fines only serve to discourage students from using their bicycles on campus. Ticketing a student for more than their bicycle is worth illustrates how misguided the law is towards bicyclists in North America.

Imagine if a motorist was charged more than his car is worth for parking illegally:

To pay your $25,000 parking fine – please pay in person, by mail, or online at Please include the processing fee of $519 when you remit your payment.

A Facebook group called “BikeBusters” was setup by students to fight back against the excessive fines levied on bicycles.

Adding insult to injury, motorists who park illegally on campus are given a $46 ticket – yet bicyclists who lock their bikes up “illegally” are fined $220. Bike racks are reportedly often full, so locking up to a railing seems perfectly reasonable.

These uneven levies aren’t the only way bicyclists are targeted and discouraged from riding. In fact, the City of Berkeley requires bicyclists to license their bicycles with the city (with renewals every 3 years) – or face citation.

City of Berkeley Municipal Code Section 14.68.020: It is unlawful for any person to operate or use a bicycle or motorized bicycle in the city which has not been registered and licensed in accordance with Section 39002(a) of the Vehicle Code of the state. (Ord. 4957-NS § 4, 1976).

And according to the UC Berkeley campus police website, bicycles can be “impounded” if a bicycle is “parked carelessly”. Impounded bicycles? Is this some kind of cruel joke?

Mandatory bicycle licensing, $220 parking fines, “dismount zones”, bicycle impoundment. Driving an automobile is starting to sound awfully enticing.

These are measures that exist solely to encourage you to join the rest of North American society and drive that automobile.

Time to wake up America.

Hat tip to The Record’s Take the Lane for bringing this injustice to our attention.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at

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4 thoughts on “Berkeley Bicycle Licensing and $220 Fines

  1. Cycling For Beginners Dec 28,2010 4:38 pm

    Absurd! And, if I may say so, the fact that super-liberal Berkeley is doing this is some additional proof that cycling issues should not be viewed as liberal vs. conservative, just as they shouldn’t be viewed as car owners vs. bike owners. It seems there are some knuckleheads in every demographic — and since most of them have nothing positive to contribute, they gravitate toward governing!

  2. Anonymous Dec 29,2010 6:39 pm

    What they need is a caped crusader to go around with their portable sawzall and slice all those u-locks into bits!

    Maybe CAA guy would do it here if you paid him, haha!

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