UK Government number plates for cyclists proposal 'pointless' and 'absurd' say critics

Cycling UK brand latest plans laid out by transport secretary as ‘impractical and unworkable’

Commuting cyclist in London
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The latest UK Government plans to regulate cycling have been met with dismay by various groups.

Part of the new plans proposed to ‘crack down’ on cyclists would be to introduce mandatory speed limits, insurance and number plates for riders. 

In a recent interview with the Daily Mail (opens in new tab), the transport secretary Grant Shapps said he “absolutely” wanted to implement speed limits for cyclists particularly in 20mph zones. Furthermore, Shapps laid out further plans for cycling in the country and said: “I see no reason why cyclists should break the road laws and be able to get away with it.”

Last week, Shapps also announced plans to introduce a new 'death by dangerous cycling' law to tackle the "selfish minority of cyclists". 

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK has spoken out in response to the comments by the transport secretary. 

Dollimore said: “These latest proposals to regulate cycling are impractical and unworkable, and have been repeatedly dismissed by successive governments. They’re also a complete U-turn on current government policy as laid out last November when Baroness Vere said, ‘the costs of doing so would outweigh the benefits’. Every country which has tried to implement such ideas have soon realised their costly mistake.

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

Dollimore’s comments were echoed by opposition party members within parliament. 

The Liberal Democrats spokesperson for transport, Wera Hobhouse, condemned the proposal and expressed dismay at Shapps’ comments. Hobhouse said: “It’s a strange and pointless idea that would pile extra costs on to people who are trying to be more active”.

After the backlash from his initial comments to the Daily Mail, Shapps confusingly backtracked on plans in an interview with the Times (opens in new tab) and said he was “not attracted to the bureaucracy of registration plates”, adding that it would  “go too far.”

Mandatory bicycle registration is almost unheard of in any other country apart from North Korea. Reasoning behind that is that it would introduce yet more barriers to taking up cycling and introduce unnecessary costs. 

In the height of the current cost of living crisis, this belief was evident in comments from the Labour Party. 

Labour’s shadow transport minister Gill Furniss said, “This absurd and unworkable plan would create a mountain of bureaucracy for cyclists, and force people away from active travel. Buses are in crisis, rail services are being slashed, fares and fuel are soaring – and the transport secretary’s big idea is to slap number plates on tens of millions of bicycles.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1