Location: Topeka

Topeka Cyclists: Is Your Bike Registered?

James Peppers found out the hard way that Topeka has an ordinance requiring bicycle registration, after being ticketed by Topeka Police:

Peppers says he rides his bike wherever he goes, and wonders if every person riding a bike gets stopped and ticketed for no registration. “I mean that means that every little kid has to register their bike. I mean half of them just get bikes to be riding, that means a little kid no matter who it is cannot enjoy riding the bike because if it’s not tagged they are going to stop you,” Peppers said.

Now that Peppers knows the code he says he will take care of the ticket, it’s 10 dollars, but court costs are another 66 dollars. “And I got to go to court for it so, I will,” Peppers said. So 76 dollars out of his pocket, he says he will go and register his bike with the Fire Department. [read more]

According to the Topeka City Code: “It shall be unlawful for any person residing in the city to ride or use a bicycle without first obtaining a license”.

Topekans can register their bicycle at any city fire station. It’s free and the registration never expires.

Bicycle License PlateIt’s not clear what physical form the license takes, but the code says “The license shall be suitable for attachment to the bicycle as near to the top of the seat tube as possible, facing the front wheel.” The license also includes a registration certificate.

(The image on the right is an antique bicycle license plate from Hutchinson, Kansas. Hopefully the technology’s progressed just a bit from 1959…)

Bicycle registration is not unique to Topeka. Many communities require that you register or license your bike, though these requirements are seldom enforced. (See our Kansas Bicycle Registration and Licensing Requirements page.)

By the way, there’s at least one more “gotcha” from the Topeka city code: “No person riding a bicycle on a sidewalk shall exceed a speed of five miles per hour.” Yet one more reason to steer clear of sidewalks and take your rightful place on the roads!

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

7 responses to “Topeka Cyclists: Is Your Bike Registered?”

  1. Ed says:

    Phoenix, AZ (and lots of other places, I’m sure) has this requirement… but the city doesn’t issue them!


  2. Dan Bonnet says:

    While registration is a good thing, most metro areas and even universities still use “paper based” systems from the 1960’s. Why not use the INTERNET, like BikeRegistry.com ?? Come on, this is the 21st century, the age of eBay, Craigslist & Twitter. If your bike rides off by itself, odds are it is not going to stay in Topeka…

  3. Dana says:

    Bike registration itself doesn’t bother me; what does is this: how is someone supposed to know it’s required? Registration is not overwhelmingly common in this country, so why should anyone even consider the possibility? If the rider had received a warning ticket (no fines or court time/fees), that would be understandable. But a fine? Court? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but arrogance of the law is intolerable.
    Another, somewhat over-the-top concern: as a resident of another county, would I be subject to this ordinance if I’m just riding through or visiting? Of all the registration ordinances shown in this website, none say anything about them applying to residents only.

  4. Randy says:

    Actually, the Topeka code only applies to “any person residing in the city”, so it wouldn’t apply to visitors. Ordinances from the other cities I reviewed don’t have that stipulation.

    The other curious thing about the laws is that they would appear to apply even to test-riding a bicycle, at a bike shop, for example. Weird.

    As to how cyclists are to know … well, they have to check with their city and/or police. But yes, I would think a warning, rather than a ticket, would be appropriate in most cases.

  5. Randy says:

    From the Topeka Capital-Journal: “Kristen Veverka, spokeswoman for the Topeka Police Department, said it is rare for an officer to stop a bicyclist simply to check for a valid license. But it can happen, she said. It’s up to the discretion of the officer. City spokesman David Bevens said Municipal Court has processed 27 such citations this year.” License that bike or else

  6. Chelsea says:

    F**k that. There is no reason for this – just bureaucratic nonsense. I’m going to keep riding my bike without a license.

  7. Jamie says:

    The problem with registering is that even the fire department doesn’t know if its transferable, or if the bike has to be under your name. I gave my old bike to a friend, and we don’t know if he has to reregister it and if I have to be there for a transfer.

    Oh, and riding on sidewalks can be very preferable to some of the streets here in Topeka. It depends on location and time of day. I would never suggest actually riding on the street during rush hour unless you are extremely visable and experienced. Most of our motorist just don’t know the laws and will try to share a lane with you or pass in the middle of an intersection.