Licence plates for UK cyclists will not be happening after all

It appears the Conservatives and the Daily Mail just decided to bash cyclists, the latest culture war front

 A man cycles through the rain in the UK
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We can all breathe a sigh of relief, as it appears that number plates for cyclists will not be happening after all.

After the plan was floated by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, on the front page of the Daily Mail last week, he later talked down his own suggestion on LBC (opens in new tab), saying there were "no plans" for this.

This week, the Conservative MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking said that she had been assured by the Department for Transport that it has "no plans to introduce number plates for bicycles or compulsory insurance".

In a column for The House (opens in new tab) magazine, Selaine Saxbee, the Tory MP for North Devon, revealed: "The upside of the confusion created by the comments from the Transport Secretary is we appear to have some certainty now that number plates will not be getting onto our bikes any time soon!"

Last week, the number plate policy was criticised as "impractical and unworkable" by Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK, while the Labour Party called the plans "absurd and unworkable".

In her piece, Saxbee wrote: "From a policy perspective I have been assured by the Department of Transport, as the Transport Secretary has reiterated to the press, that he has no plans to introduce number plates for bicycles or compulsory insurance.

"As co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking it would be fair to say my WhatsApp instantly lit up at the suggestions aired in the media last week that more cycling regulation was coming."

While she wrote that cyclists should follow the rules of the road - as should all road users, and all people - on the proposed policy she commented that "it is very hard to understand why on earth anyone would even need a conversation about such matters".

Saxbee continued: "Creating dedicated areas for different road users is no doubt the best way to ensure the safety of the maximum number of road users. However, not every road is going to be able to accommodate this safely and road space in many town and city centres is at a premium."

Any kind of compulsory licensing of cyclists would place a bigger burden on individuals before cycling, which is exactly what is not needed now; the same with compulsory insurance. Leave cyclists alone, and build more bike lanes.

"As the cost of living ramps up, we’re seeing more people turning to cycling to meet their local transport needs," Dollimore said last week. "Rather than proposing expensive barriers to cycling more – both to the exchequer and the individual – we need this government to encourage people to cycle more, not less.”

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