Red Ken joins the cycle registration madness.

It appears that Ken Livingstone has joined those who have not fully thought through a registration scheme for bicycles. His idea is one of the more ridiculous. Bikes would be registered to individuals and have to have a plate on the bike. I could not borrow someone elses bike would have to have all my bikes registered as well as all the childrens bikes.

Then of course if I did not they would have to catch me.

From The Times:

Asked if that meant licence plates for bicycles, he said: “Yes, so you can catch the ones — the ones that are obeying the law, it makes no difference — but the ones who are going over red lights, driving on pavements, you get ’em.”

Well hello Ken. Here is one cyclist who obeys the law to whom it will make a huge difference. Like I mentioned when the last Politician made this suggestion, think of the cost. Think of how you mount a registration plate? Think of how big it would have to be then think again about how you mount it. With the Tour De France coming next consider how you mount a registration plate on one of those bike? I know that the actual Tour riders would be exempted but there are a lot of bikes like those around.

This one actually gets even more bonkers. I would have to register to ride in London so what happens when Surrey bring in the same thing? Two registration plates? Would make my journey to work fun I would need a third plate to cover Hampshire. Lucky I never make it down to Sussex oh but I do on Sundays.



I think Ken has identified a bad solution to what is a real problem in the city of London (where I work). Cyclists running red lights, cycling at speed on pavements and not observing the highway code is a real problem in the city. Just yesterday I stepped out on to a pedestrian crossing and was narrowly missed by a cyclist who didn't fancy stopping. Interestingly the police have been clamping down on this and i've seen police motorcycles lurking out of view to catch cyclists in the act. Of course, a stern talking to is the extent of what they can do as cyclists don't need licenses (fortunately!) I don't know what the answer is. This is not a huge problem, just a small number not using their brains. I hope there's not a huge over-reaction and license plates seems a little OTT (and expensive!)

Posted by Andy on July 28, 2006 at 06:36 AM BST #

Actually the City of London police can and do take further action. A co-worker who was caught running a red light (muppet) was given the choice of a £50 fixed penalty or a half day of safety training. I'm not sure if that scheme is still running, but if it is then I would say that spending money to expand that would be far more productive in terms of overall safety than some half-baked, utterly impractical licensing scheme.

However let's not just single out the cyclists here... A clampdown on misbehaving motorists would also be a pretty good idea, and plenty of pedestrians could do with a stern talking to as well... I've lost count of the times I have nearly been knocked off by pedestrians in the City stepping out without looking against a red light (the junction of Moorgate and Eldon Street is a particular "favourite")

Posted by Pete on July 28, 2006 at 08:02 AM BST #

It's funny, I can almost imagine the first motorists having the same conversation when car number plates were introduced. However, the idea is pretty nutty. By inference, cyclists will need to carry ID otherwise the ones without license plates who get stopped by the police will effectively get away with it. That is unless the police actually arrest them.

I agree with a previous comment. The money to set this scheme up should instead be used to make cycling training more easily available. Maybe show cyclists why it's a bad idea to run red lights etc.

Posted by Richard H on July 28, 2006 at 09:18 AM BST #

There is a big difference with a car though. That is that putting a number plate on it is not impractical. You could even put one on a F1 car without to much difficulty.

You can't do that with a bike. The number plate would have to go right at the back so as not to be obscured by panniers or interfere with your legs which would mean on the mudguard if you have one and then the mudguard would have to be strong enough to hold what would need to be a large number plate.


Posted by Chris Gerhard on July 28, 2006 at 09:45 AM BST #

Cyclists/drivers commit offences, bikes/cars don't. So if Ken really wants to treat cyclists the same as drivers, he's going to have to propose "cycling licenses". Registering bikes won't work.

So why do we register cars? (And we do so "to the individual", of course.) It's really a combination of liability and taxation; it also assists in determining responsibility for certain actions (like parking violations), supports safety (via the link to MOT testing) and acts as a way of proving vehicle theft, etc. Since most of these don't really apply to bikes....

Car license plates are the size they are to allow for visual identification. For many purposes an RFID tag would be sufficient. Perhaps for bikes....

Posted by Geoff Arnold on August 03, 2006 at 08:29 PM BST #

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