Cyclists In London Could Soon Require Number Plates And Insurance

Riding a bike, in addition to being environmentally friendly, should be an easy and quick way of getting around London. In fact, it’s actively encouraged through government schemes, such as Bike2Work and the Santander electric bikes.

London isn’t as cycle-friendly as some of our neighbours on the continent (we’re thinking Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna and others), but it’s slowly getting there, with more than 100km of new cycle routes built between the start of the pandemic and March 2021.

cyclist in London
Image: Franco Ruarte

If there was a push by the government to continue along that route, you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who thought the way to get more people to ride bikes was to a) add more equipment and b) introduce admin. But transport secretary Grant Shapps has hinted that a host of new measures could be introduced after a review into the rules of cycling.

These might include cyclists being required to use registration plates, have insurance and keep to a 20mph speed limit. I don’t know about you, but a number plate on a bike is just one more thing to remember (not to mention the fact it will look terrible) and insurance is, on top of a tedious process, more bills that we all really need right now. But hey, we might get speedometers for our bikes which would be… fun.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Shapps said: “Somewhere where cyclists are actually not breaking the law is when they speed, and that cannot be right, so I absolutely propose extending speed limit restrictions to cyclists.

“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.”

Shapps has also proposed a new ‘death by dangerous cycling’ measure, which would see those charged receiving the same punishments as those in vehicles.

Research this year found that cycling had gone up by 25% in London compared to pre-pandemic levels, with a 14% jump on weekdays and eye-watering 82% rise on weekends.

“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,” Shapps continued.

“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 and I think we do have to not turn a blind eye to that and I’m proposing setting up a review to do exactly that.”

It’s worth pointing out that a cabinet reshuffle is coming up next month, but Grant Shapps has urged his successor (should he be replaced) to press on with this review. But who knows, maybe they’ll just argue for pushing on with more safe cycle routes around the city.