The UK transport secretary, Grant Schnapps, has proposed a Whitehall review that could lead to cyclists needing to register their bikes, attach license plates and enforce them to ride by speed limits.

“Somewhere where cyclists are actually not breaking the law is when they speed,” said Schnapps, “and that cannot be right, so I absolutely propose extending speed limit restrictions to cyclists,” he said. “Particularly where you’ve got 20mph limits on increasing numbers of roads, cyclists can easily exceed those, so I want to make speed limits apply to cyclists.

“That obviously does then lead you into the question of ‘well, how are you going to recognise the cyclist, do you need registration plates and insurance and that sort of thing’. So I’m proposing there should be a review of insurance and how you actually track cyclists who do break the laws.”

Mandatory insurance will also be looked into.

He added: “I don’t want to stop people from getting on their bike. It’s a fantastic way to travel, we’ve seen a big explosion of cycling during Covid and since, I think it has lots of health benefits.

“But I see no reason why cyclists should break the road laws, why they should speed, why they should bust red lights and be able to get away with it.”

Prominent road laws solicitor Nick Freeman said: ‘This is something that needs to happen for everyone’s safety and Grant Shapps should be congratulated for eventually listening.’

Schnapps was in the news recently for vowing to bring in a ‘death by dangerous cycling’ law targeted at cyclists who kill pedestrians.

‘We need the cycling equivalent of death by dangerous driving to close a gap in the law and impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care,’ he said.

‘For example, traffic lights are there to regulate all traffic. But a selfish minority of cyclists appear to believe that they are somehow immune to red lights.’

However, campaigners have countered with the fact that deaths caused by cyclists are a fraction of those caused by dangerous drivers.

Dr Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive of the London Cycling Campaign, had this to say:

“The greatest number of deaths and serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists are caused by cars. We routinely see every single day law breaking by motorists – running red lights, turning corners at speed without any attention to pedestrians crossing.

“It’s fine to change the sentencing regime [for cyclists]. But where is the commensurate effort being put into dangerous driving which kills, maims and destroys lives, routinely. I would like to see action taken to address that.”

Professor Chris Oliver, cycling enthusiast and former surgeon said: “It’s very rare for a pedestrian to be killed by a cyclist.”

“In 2015, two pedestrians were killed and 96 seriously injured after being in a collision with a bicycle. These accidents created a huge amount of interest in the media.

“To put those deaths in context, every year in the last decade, about 100 cyclists are killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured on UK roads. By far, the majority is by car-driving motorists.

“There does need to be some proportionate tightening of the law for cyclists accidentally killing pedestrians. Everyone should obey the Highway Code.”

And how do you feel about this? Feel free to comment here or on the CrankPunk FB page.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

4 thoughts

  1. Nothing new for Switzerland, although the mandatory license plate with 3rd party insurance coverage was abolished in 2012. The first cantons (provinces) introduced license plates for bicycles in 1894. When I was a kid in the 50ies, the yearly cost was 5 Swiss Francs (CHF), roughly 4.35 GBP nowadays, that time 0.42 GBP. The 3rd party liability coverage limit was 2 mio CHF, not bad. The license plates had to be renewed yearly, together with a checking the bike at the local police station, compulsory head light, etc. The system was stopped in 2012 as around 90% of the population had private 3rd party liability insurance, and the administrative effort was no longer worth the benefit, the parliament thought.

  2. Don’t trust the politicians. Eventually, it will be used as an easy money-grab and an excuse for the police to crackdown on cyclists for no reason. Take New York City as an example: . Things need to change, but more thought needs to be put into better bicycle infrastructure & reducing accidents caused by motor vehicles. Neither of which this politician has proposed.

    1. Agreed Steven, the person needs to be respected whilst on the road not the vehicle they are using, and to demonise the bicycle (I don’t think that is too strong a word) is insanity. The bicycle in the UK makes up for just 1% of means of travel per year, which is shameful given the state of our world. A massive shift in mindset needs to take place but if you hold your breath for that, you’ll be in trouble…

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