Do You Have Ze Papers II

September 17th, 2009

Was it two whole days ago I was complaining about licencing of cyclists? My how time flies. One of my comments in that post was that we are already licenced for boating:

Car, motorcycle, boat, sitting beside a pond fishing, all require a licence. Now Michael Walker thinks cycling should require a licence…

guitar-boatMy old pal Ron, who used to blog here, commented on getting his boat licence:

Perhaps it will be like the boaters so-called licence. I took the test at a booth at a flea market. It took me twenty minutes, with no studying, and I hadn’t driven a boat in years.

But what could be so wrong with licencing bicycles? asked everyone else who commented. The boat licence provides a nice background. As  noted by Chris Selley in today’s National Post there’s lots wrong with  the boat licensing system: no boating experience is necessary, private licencing without proper oversight, licence not required if your renting the boat or if your just visiting. One thing the licence is not about is improved safety.

Here in Ontario (I can’t vouch for elsewhere), the boat licence comes with one other minor problem, it authorizes otherwise illegal searches. The OPP can, and advertise heavily that they do, stop your vessel and board it, at which time they can, and do, demand the pleasure craft operating card of the driver. It matters not at all that you are operating safely and legally, it matters not at all that they have no grounds or reason. As they will tell everyone through media sources, they hit every lake, big or small, they stop any boater on those lakes. You will, they assure us, be asked to provide your boaters card if you go out on you boat. Now that they have stopped you to check that your paperwork is in order, they can do a quick look around make sure everything is up to standard.

To provide a little perspective on this, the OPP can absolutely not pull you over while driving down the highway for no other reason than to see your licence. Having done so, they can not search around to see what they see. Even when they perform the RIDE program, stopping people to check if they have been drinking, they do not ask for your licence. But on your boat, that kind of police state tactics is fine.

When I see politicians talking about licencing bicycles because “there is no requirement for a cyclist to carry personal identification,” I imagine a world where cyclists are stopped riding down the road, for the reason of proving they have the appropriate papers. Am I paranoid? No, it is the exact same regimen that is occuring on the lakes and rivers all across the province: you cannot go to your cottage and take a simple boat ride without having to answer for it, and that is incompatible with living in a free society.

freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, pimply minions of bureaucracy

  1. Lou
    September 18th, 2009 at 11:22 | #1

    Oh please. It is really not so scary. Some of those cyclists do not show that they could pass a test of knowledge on the rules of the road. Licence fees would also pay for bike lanes.

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