Cyclists could be fined for breaking speed limits and forced to have road insurance and registration numbers, under plans floated as the government eyes a fresh review of road laws.
Despite potentially facing the axe as transport secretary once Boris Johnson’s successor enters No 10 in just three weeks, Grant Shapps has announced plans for a potential overhaul of the Highway Code, which he insisted his replacement would also be urged to pursue.
While cyclists are generally not subject to the same speed limits as cars, Mr Shapps announced on Tuesday that he wanted to bring this situation to an end – citing “a hard core of cyclists who seem to think the laws of the road don’t apply to them”.
The plans floated to the Daily Mail and The Times on Tuesday included cyclists facing penalty points and fines for failing to comply with new rules, with the former reporting that the review could raise questions about drink-drive limits and whether an age cap would be needed to stop children being subject to strict rules.
Department for Transport (DfT) officials are reported to accept that enforcing such measures would require cyclists to have registration numbers or another form of identifiable marking.
But, describing himself as a “keen cyclist”, Mr Shapps told The Times that he was “not attracted to the bureaucracy of registration plates” on bicycles, saying: “That would go too far.”
Last December, the DfT rejected a petition calling for cyclists to be forced to wear visible identification and to introduce a licensing and penalty point system for all cyclists, on the grounds that the costs “would outweigh the benefits”.
The department noted that the “safety case for such a system is not as strong as that for drivers since” bicycles involved in collisions “are highly unlikely to cause serious injury to other road users”.
It also warned that a licensing system would likely reduce the number of cyclists and would “significantly reduce” the “clear” health benefits cycling brings both to cyclists and wider society, such as tackling congestion, reducing climate-heating CO2 emissions and improved air quality.
Their response also warned that such a move “would deny children and young adults from enjoying the mobility and health benefits cycling brings until they were old enough to pass a formal test”.
Speaking to The Times on Tuesday, however, Mr Shapps said: “How can it be right that some people are able to break the speed limit and bomb through red lights? The time has come to have a look at a review and potentially update laws so they apply to cyclists as well.”
It comes less than a fortnight after Mr Shapps proposed a new “death by dangerous cycling” law, which would treat killer cyclists the same as motorists.
Under Mr Shapps’s proposal, the new law – which would close a legal loophole meaning cyclists who kill pedestrians can only be jailed for two years – would be added to the Transport Bill due to be put before parliament in the autumn.
Ministers have been under pressure to bring in harsher penalties following the death of Kim Briggs in February 2016, who died after being hit by an 18-year-old illegally riding a fixed-wheel bicycle with no front brakes and travelling at 18mph, who was jailed for 18 months.
A report last year by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety charity found one in every 100 crashes in which a pedestrian was killed are the fault of a cyclist, compared with 65 in 100 for which a car driver is responsible.