Let’s leave bicycle licensing in the trash can of history: 5 reasons it doesn't work

The bottom line: licensing bikes is a waste of taxpayer dollars. It's time to face facts, not be distracted by political motivations.

Bicycle licensing doesn’t work, and it never has. Here’s why:

1)The cost of creating, administering, and policing a licensing program for bicycles is far greater than any potential revenue the program could generate.

It would take an incredible amount of resources to legislate and enforce regulations not only for regular cyclists but for recreational riders, those who ride from outside the city, tourists, children on bikes or Bike Share users. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars, valuable city workers and police officers’ time.


2) There is no proof that a bike licensing system, anywhere, has actually increased cyclist compliance with the law.

Toronto had one for nearly 20 years and scrapped it because it didn’t work. As bicycles are considered vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act, cyclists are already subject to fines for breaking laws, rendering a licensing system completely unnecessary. 


3) Cyclists already pay their way.

All Toronto residents pay property taxes which build and maintain our roads. Bicycles move people using minimal road space with zero emissions and the least amount of wear and tear on the road surface. And yet, even with rising numbers in cycling, there has not been a corresponding increase in dedicated space or infrastructure for these taxpayers.

4) Many people in Toronto ride bikes because they do not have other transportation options.

People ride a bike for financial reasons, as a mobility device, or as a means to see their families and friends. Our most vulnerable citizens, including children, older adults, and low income families should not be burdened with a bureaucratic fee or process.

5) A licensing system will discourage new riders, which is something Toronto cannot afford.

Our transit is at capacity, our roads are clogged with construction and traffic, child obesity is at an all-time high, and increased air pollution contributes to the very real dangers of climate change. Now is not the time to remove bikes from the road.

Review our scan of comparative municipalities and their experience with bicycle licensing and registration here

Do you know what does work?


1) Rapid rollout and investment in cycling infrastructure that will keep people biking, walking, and driving separate and safe.


2) Education programs for all road users so that everyone is on the same page, and everyone learns to share the road effectively and safely.


3) A bold commitment to a Vision Zero goal of elimintating traffic fatalities with reduced speed limits, well-designed roads, and strong legal protections for our most vulnerable road users.


Bottom line: A bicycle licensing system is a waste of taxpayer dollars.


It’s time to face the facts. Torontonians have had enough of this back and forth. We need Transportation Services get to work on rolling out the cycling network plan and making the city safe for all of us as soon as possible, not hinder them with unnecessary licensing systems.




"Bicycle Licensing," City of Toronto.

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