CITY HALL — The City Council on Monday decided to do away with a law that few people were following anyway, voting to repeal a long-standing requirement that Santa Monica residents register their bicycles at City Hall.

The law, intended to discourage theft and help cyclists recover stolen bicycles, was viewed by many bike advocates as ineffective and was widely flouted by the riding public.

Between 300 and 400 people per year typically register their bikes, according to Don Patterson, Santa Monica’s business and revenue operations manager. There’s no official count of cyclists in Santa Monica, but it’s clear that number represents a small fraction of the total.

Several cycling advocates on Monday urged the council to abolish the law, and the five council members who were present (Bob Holbrook and Bobby Shriver did not attend) quickly complied.

Before the meeting, Michael Cahn, a member of the cycling advocacy group Santa Monica Spoke, posted an argument for repeal on the organization’s website.

“This is a program designed for non-compliance,” he wrote. “Since so few bikes are licensed, the program gives the police the opportunity to target cyclists, especially those who look like they may be carrying drug paraphernalia in their back-packs. This targeting of the population of cyclists is not in the public interest, and not fair.”

City Hall will continue to register bikes, and for the time being will waive the $3 fee.

Patterson said a small processing fee for joining the voluntary registry could be reinstated at a later date.

After the meeting, Cahn applauded the decision.

“I think this vote by the council is a milestone towards making cycling easy and simple for everybody,” he said. “I myself lost a bike to a thief last year. The bike community now looks forward to working with the city to address bike theft with education, more and better bike parking, and sting operations.”

The council’s decision to drop the mandatory registration program came despite a recommendation from city staff to keep the program and adjust the fees and penalties associated with it.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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