Regulating Cycling – Is It Overdue?

Regulating Cycling – Is It Overdue?

female cyclist riding bicycle along mountain road in summer

Transport Minister Grant Shapps has suggested that cyclists should be insured, required to have some form of identification (e.g. number plates) and be subject to a 20 mph speed limit. There was an interesting article in the Daily Mail by Melissa Kite on this subject. I quote from parts of it:

The last time I rode my horse on the country lanes of Surrey, I nearly didn’t come back. All thanks to a gang of cyclists.Only a few steps from the gate of the stable yard, a racing club in formation swarmed downhill towards me, spread across the lane. As poor Darcy began to panic, I screamed: ‘No, please!’ But they kept on coming. The bikes swirled around Darcy and suddenly she was spinning in circles – right into the path of a car behind me. I clung to her neck to stop myself falling, and saw the look on the driver’s face. We were so close I think we both thought I was about to end up on the bonnet. To this day, Darcy trembles when she hears the faintest whoosh of a bike. Anyone prepared to hurtle past a woman clinging to the neck of a terrified horse is not safe to be on the roads unlicensed and uninsured.

Some cyclists flagrantly break the law: running red lights, ignoring pedestrian crossings, weaving in and out of lanes and mounting pavements.

As my experience shows, the situation is dire in the countryside, where weekend cycling clubs are increasingly using the public roads as a racing track. And it’s not just the accidents they cause. It’s their anti-social behaviour. The atmosphere in many once-genteel areas has been ruined by the arrogant mentality of cyclists, hurtling along with selfish aggression”.

Comment: There is certainly a big problem in London and other major UK cities. Cyclists ignore red lights and do not give way to pedestrians. Modern bikes enable cyclists to exceed safe speeds and their brakes are not fit for purpose. If they are involved in an accident, as they are often are, they can ride away as they know there is no way of tracing them.

It has been suggested in the past that registration of cyclists or cycles would be expensive and not justified by the benefits. But a modern electronic registration system would not be expensive and a small number plate not difficult to affix to bikes. It should not put off anyone from cycling.

Tougher laws about cycling behaviour would also be welcomed by many people. Riding on pavements is a major problem which pedestrians heartily dislike and now that we have users of electric scooters doing the same we need a review of laws in this area.

Unfortunately many cyclists now think they are competing in a race against other cyclists and this has been encouraged by the promotion of cycling events. Organised events on public roads should be banned.

Roger Lawson

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