The Government has no intention of introducing compulsory licencing and insurance for cyclists, a Tory peer has told the House of Lords in a recent debate on the subject.
The idea was first mooted in 2018 during a safety review of the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. However, the DfT concluded that the cost and complexity of introducing such a system would ‘significantly outweigh the benefits’.
The review added that a registration and licensing system would deter people from cycling, having a knock-on effect on associated benefits such as improving health, tacking congestion and improving air quality.
However, the subject was raised once again by Labour peer Lord Winston on 18 March, who told the House of Lords that an increasing number of cyclists are ‘extremely aggressive’.
Lord Winston said: “Of course, most cyclists are conscientious and law-abiding.
“But an increasing number are extremely aggressive and ignore, for example, the fact that some streets are one way, pedestrian crossings and red lights at traffic lights.”
This sentiment was echoed by fellow Labour peer Lord Wills, who expressed concerns over ‘hoodlums in lycra’.
Lord Willis said existing measures to punish poor cycling behaviour were not being used. He cited a FOI request showing that, of the 38 police forces who issue fines to irresponsible cyclists, 30 issued fewer than five last year and 12 of those issued none.
However, Tory peer Lady Barran dismissed the idea, saying that only a ‘small minority’ of cyclists cause danger on UK roads.
Lady Barran said: “The Government obviously wants to reinforce safety for all road users, particularly those described as vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.
“But only a tiny percentage of accidents on our roads are caused by cyclists, so the Government are seeking a proportionate response that upholds the law but also encourages cycling and walking.”
Lady Barran received support from fellow Tory peer Lord Robathan, the former chairman of the All Party Cycling Group.
Lord Robathan said: “Should we not consider whether we wish to encourage cycling for the health benefits that it gives, and indeed the advantages to reducing congestion, or whether we wish to deter cyclists with unnecessary regulation which will keep the police busy for the next 100 years?”