It’s been more than 25 years since Montgomery County began requiring people to register their personal bicycles.
Now county officials are making a change to “clear up the law,” Council Member Will Jawando said Tuesday during a council meeting.
If someone used an unregistered bike, police officers could impound the bike under the law. The amendment, which the council unanimously approved on Tuesday, makes registration voluntary for personal bikes and takes away the ability for authorities to impound them for being unregistered.
The legislation also repeals the provision for the money received from the sale of an impounded or abandoned bike to go into the Police Relief and Retirement Fund. The fund no longer exists and proceeds from the sale of the bikes are placed into the county’s general fund.
“It rose from a community concern and I think this is a great example of us cleaning up a law that was meant for good intentions, but had some issues with it,” Jawando said at the meeting. He added that only 436 bikes were registered last year.
The law continues to require bikes for rent to be registered with the county.
At the public hearing for the bill on Feb. 11, Assistant Police Chief Dinesh Patil said that the compliance rate for registration was low. He said registration does help to return stolen bikes.
Steve Silverman of Silver Spring also spoke at the public hearing and said he was given a criminal citation for not registering his bike. He posted a video of his interaction with police in June.
Silverman said he was riding his bike when he noticed a boy being questioned by a police officer. He held up his phone as if he might videotape the encounter and later told the boy about his rights when interacting with the police.
Silver said a police officer stopped him as he was riding away and gave him a citation for not having his bike registered.
Council Member Evan Glass said on Tuesday that amending the law was a signal that the county needs to look back at decades of laws to update them.
“I think this is a really timely conversation because this particular piece of legislation is to fix an antiquated law to bring us up into the year 2020,” he said.
Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.