Cyclists face the potential for harsher road rules

Man cycling on a road in London

Should cyclists abide by the same restrictions as drivers? The Government is set to review rules for bike riders in a shake-up of the Highway Code. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested cyclists may need registration plates, insurance and to observe speed limits in the future. The potential rule change has been backed by Britons, with some calling it ‘well overdue’. 

Legal shake-up over cycling rules 

Concerns around insurance claims and the expansion of slower 20mph zones have forced government to review the rules of the road. 

 If approved, cyclists could be given points on their licence, fines for speeding or running red lights and even pay compensation if pedestrians are seriously injured by their reckless driving. 

Shapps drew attention to the need for cycling speeding restrictions in an interview with the Daily Mail: “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 as well. 

“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 does then lead you into the question of, ‘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.” 

The Transport Secretary appeared to backtrack on his ideas during a later interview when he told The Times that he’s “’not attracted to the bureaucracy of registration plates… That would go too far.” 

According to the Department for Transport, 304 pedestrians were injured and four killed after being hit by cyclists in Britain in 2020. 

What does Britain want? 

A poll of 1,500 drivers by motoring campaign group FairFuelUK showed 91% of motorists back cyclists wearing number plates. A further 70% back them having insurance and 80% backed speeding penalties. 

Despite these results, 72% of motorists said they didn’t think the plan was enforceable.  

Howard Cox, the founder of FairFuelUK, responded saying: “The usual suspects are rising up against the Transport Secretary’s plans. 

“Any common-sense, law-abiding person would value the need to adhere to such sensible new regulatory safety proposals.  

“Sadly, most say in the survey that it will be impossible to enforce and there is, of course, the administrative cost of making it all happen.” 

AA President, Edmund King described the move as a ‘retrograde step’. He added: “Most adult cyclists are also drivers, and therefore more should be done to encourage harmony on the roads.” 

 Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns said: “Every country which has tried to implement such ideas have soon realised their costly mistake.  

“As cost of living ramps up, we’re seeing more people turning to cycling to meet their local transport needs.”

Will the rule changes make a difference? Will they just be ignored? 20% of motorists were unaware of the recent changes to the Highway Code. 

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