Zimbabwe is to impose a new mandatory bicycle fee. ZimNews.net reports that failure to pay will see a cyclist lose their bike and potentially face 12 months imprisonment.
The new system is to be tested out in Harare before being rolled out to the rest of the country. The licence must be renewed annually.
The new rules states: “No person shall use any road within the council area without paying the required fees and any cycle which is ordinarily kept within the area will be considered illegal unless it has been licensed in terms of these by-laws.”
ZimNews quotes an anonymous government official who explained: “Authorities fear a lot of resistance to this move so they will test people’s tolerance in the combative city of Harare. If it is accepted there, then the rest of the country will get it as well.”
Zimbabwe is not the first place to implement bicycle registration, but in almost all cases administration of the scheme has cost more than the income.
BikeBiz gives the example of Switzerland where the CHF-5-10 ‘Velo Vignette’ licence was a means of getting cyclists to purchase third-party liability insurance as well as being a registration scheme. In 2010 Swiss parliament abolished the licences due to the cost.
Similarly, Chicago Mag lists a whole series of US cities where bike licences have been introduced and subsequently deemed too costly to manage.
Honolulu is named as an exception. There, a one-time $15 registration is required and it then costs $5 to transfer the licence to someone else. The system reportedly brings in $400,000-$500,000 a year, but all money raised is ring-fenced for infrastructure or other cycling programmes. The system is made simpler by the fact that the fee is paid at the point of sale. The fact that Honolulu is located on a relatively small island also makes the system easier to control.