Have you got your bike permit?

March 28, 2008 5:12:54 PM PDT
You have your bike, your helmet and you're ready to have some fun. But do you have a permit? In Galveston, you're supposed to have one on your bike, and if you don't, it could cost you. For some, it's the only way to travel. Robert Martinez rides every day along the Seawall and didn't know until now that he's breaking the law.

"No, I don't have one," he told us when we asked if he has a permit. "I'll be honest with you."

We couldn't find a tag on any bicycle we saw. Most people didn't know the ordinance existed.

"When you buy a bicycle here, there's no one to tell you that you need to have a bike license," said bike rider Elliot Malach.

Registering your bike is an ordinance in Galveston that's been around about 20 years and people do know about it. We checked city records. Within the last three years, an average of about 400 people per year registered their bicycles in Galveston. It's a one time registration process. However, if you don't have a tag, don't expect to be targeted by island police.

"It's a valuable tool to the police department should your bicycle become stolen or lost," said Galveston city Spokesperson Alicia Cahill. "It's easier for us to identify it and you as the owner and return it to you."

Jack Nielson informs his customers about the ordinance, a courtesy not extended by all island merchants.

"We've been working with the city right now, trying to get them to allow other bike shops and places that sell bicycles to offer the license when they sell them," said Nielson. "Same thing with Academy. They'll sell you a fishing license when you go to buy a fishing pole."

As for finding a bike with a tag, we were just about to call it a day when we came across Harold Palfrey.

"Have you ever seen this before?" we asked him, showing a license.

"Yes, ma'am," he told us, pointing to his bicycle. "I believe I have one right here."

If you don't live on the island, don't worry about it. If you do live on the island, just go to the police department and fill out a form to get your tag. You'll need to bring along your bike, a driver's license or other photo ID and two dollars for the permit.

Riding a bike in Galveston without one could cost you as much as $150.

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