30 Apr 2019

Lord Winston Calls for Cyclists to be Licensed

A Labour Lord has been rebuked by the Government for suggesting that a licensing and insurance system should be put in place for bicycles.

Lord Winston, who is best known for presenting TV shows such as Child of Our Time, had urged the Government to instigate a need for licenses and third-party insurance for those cycling through busy city centres.

In a debate in the House of Lords, Winston asserted that: “[an] increasing number [of cyclists] are extremely aggressive and ignore, for example, the fact that some streets are one-way, pedestrian crossings and red lights at traffic lights, and from time to time they collide with pedestrians.”

He reiterated his points on ITV's This Morning, adding: "It’s not that I am against cyclists, I am not at all against cyclists but I am against people who cross red lights, who go up one way streets the wrong way, who ride on the pavement and who ride without lights at night, particularly with people who have poor visibility or older people who have frequently been hit and damaged."

Unsurprisingly, Lord Winston's comments, as well as his idea that licensed bikes should be fitted with electronic GPS tags, have drawn a backlash from cycling campaigners for being 'out of touch', and reductive to the green benefits of cycling.

The London Cycling Campaign's Simon Munk has said that Lord Winston, and Lords who back his idea, are ignoring major sources of danger on the roads in favour of attacking cyclists. He added, “The evidence is clear: the only likely outcome of forcing those who want to cycle to hurdle more barriers is fewer people cycling – the opposite of what we want if we want a greener, cleaner, healthier, safer city.”

The notion of cycling licenses has been raised several times in the past. It was most recently ruled out by a Department of Transport report issued in 2018 on the grounds that it would deter people from using bikes rather than cars as well as proving expensive and complicated to implement.

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