The Quantum Physics Of L.A. Bike Licensing

Eecue’s post below about the stolen bike being recovered reawakened my long-dormant aggravation at why the City of L.A. makes it so difficult to get a bicycle license. After all, beyond the assist it could provide in identifying and recovering stolen bikes, it is The Law (L.A. Municipal Code Article 6, Section 26.01(b):

No person shall operate or use a bicycle upon any street or public highway of the City unless such bicycle has been duly licensed as provided herein.

So being a current outlaw bike owner three times over, I decided to see if things have improved and no, they haven’t. The only sources of information I was able to locate on the matter from the city’s website were via the L.A. Dept. of Transportation’s (LADOT) Bicycle Services website (, and a community events page at

With the LADOT webpage I was directed to contact the LAPD Juvenile Division, Youth Programs Unit at 213/485-3133 for more information — which I did, and after several rings I was listening to some wimpy equivalent of a HAL9000 telling me to leave a message after the tone. No welcome. Nothing telling me I’ve reached the right or wrong place. Just a synthetic voice then a beep. Lovely.

On the LAPD community events webpage I was informed that every first and third Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I was welcome to come get me some license love if I’m willing to trek the hell out to the West Valley Community Police Station in some mythical land called Reseda.

The saddest part is when I Googled “bicyle licensing” I found cities such as Cedar Rapids in Iowa and Sheboygan in Wisconsin that make it far easier to register a bike and obey the law than our fair city. Montana’s Missoula even has a Bicycle Coordinator listed. And in ever-loving Turlock, Calif., you can — get this: sign up for a bike license appointment online, and choose the station you want to visit. Get outta town. That’s some crazy efficient Turlockians over there, let me tell you.

And they put big, bad never-met-a-revenue-stream-it-didn’t-like Los Angeles to total shame. So while I’m waiting for HAL to call me back and tell me how I can legalize my three rides, will someone tell me where this “Reseda” might be? Is it anywhere near Turlock?

3 thoughts on “The Quantum Physics Of L.A. Bike Licensing”

  1. LAPD Juvenile Division… Man, if that isn’t a kick in the balls for LA bicyclists, I dunno what is.

    Maybe we should start a petition to get rid of that law, which will bring attention to it, and thus make it easier to get a license!

  2. why do you need a license (permission from the government) for something that you have a right to do? The right to travel!!

    It’s a stupid ass law, don’t worry about it, just live your life.

  3. You make a good point J, but I’m not at all worried about it from a law-abiding sense. The main reason I want my bikes licensed is because of the potential assistance the license could provide in my bikes being recovered should any of them be stolen, and it just dumbfounds me that the city doesn’t make it simpler to do so.

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