Bike licensing doesn’t work, just ask Boris

Boris Bike number 15547

Anti-cycling forum ranters the world over love to point out that motorists pay for roads (wrong!) so cyclists should steer clear, and in the same sentence, or shortly thereafter, they often bring up the ‘all cyclists should be licensed’ canard.

How would this work? Number plates on the back of bikes. If only law-abiding members of the public could take down bicycle registration numbers, and report these now identifiable law-breaking cyclists, the world would be a better place.

Forget number plates. How about gert big numbers of the side of bike frames? Sound familiar? London’s Cycle Hire bikes have big white numbers on the rear stays. After 1 million+ ‘Boris Bike’ journeys there must be loads of reports of scheme users running reds and knocking over pedestrians? London is the perfect test-bed for the success – or otherwise – of bicycle registration.

So, via Freedom of Information request, I asked Transport for London: How many Boris Bike users have been reported as transgressors of any sort?

“TfL has received two reports that a third party has contacted the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme contact centre about the behaviour of scheme members.”

Cycle hire animation - Boris Johnson

Just two, hey? And the bike numbers were used to nab these numpties?
 
“The bicycle serial numbers were not reported,” said TfL.
 
So, next time bicycle registration is raised as an issue – something that will cure all ills – point out that plastering big numbers on bikes does bugger all. (Which makes perfect sense because since when have car registration plates stopped motorists doing stupid things?)

NUMBER PLATES FOR CHILDREN
Bicycle registration ideas pop up all over the world. In New Jersey, USA, a lawmaker quickly withdrew her January 2011 proposal for a $10 bicycle registration scheme when she was pilloried for such an unworkable law, which was meant to “protect elderly pedestrians” knocked over by “kids”. Brian Donohue of the Ledger newspaper recorded this funny video – starring his two- and four-year old daughters – showing why putting number plates on bikes just doesn’t go far enough: put them on kids’ backs, too.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this. There is no argument so bogus that it will not be used repeatedly by the haters of those who ride bicycles.nnIt’s little different from the arguments used in the denial of man-made climate change.

  • http://twitter.com/openbath Dan Ellis

    I agree with the point, I would argue that if car drivers were more aware that the bikes carried a unique number they would use them when complaining and thus complain more. nnIn general though I think the sentiment that cars have number plates and that doesn’t stop them acting like idiots is a brilliant one (just ask the black Jag driver who pulled out on me then overtook me far far to close twice yesterday)

  • http://twitter.com/BCCletts Dave Holladay

    I recall that a good number of the places that have had bicycle registration plate schemes gave the idea up as both an admninistrative nightmare and of little or no benefit for the claimed deliverables.nnNeed to quickie with the Wiki but how about a listing of the places where cycle registration is or was in use – we’ve over a century to look back over.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Countries which do and do not have schemes is here:nnhttp://ipayroadtax.com/licensed-to-cycle/licensed-to-cycle/

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone catch Adam Rayner on BBC Wales, BBC 5Live and BBC Breakfast ranting on about us on two wheels? nnI have replied to each program (and tried to get others to do so) and refered them to here as well as other “pointers” on the real facts. nnThe whole thing has left me feeling dejected and worn down. I found Rayner’s attitude quite inflamatory at times, and atleast twice on the radio shows he has tried to goad a negative response from the CTC guys. He also accused Martin Porter the Barrister of a) being paid for an opinion so we should “ignore it” and b) that he instigated and provoked the incidents he was subjected to.nnIt now makes me wonder if we’ll see some poor sod get mashed because he’s been egged on by people like this. nnSigh..

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Yes, I tweeted a link to the show.rnrnRayner is ‘rent-a-mouth’ anti-cyclist, an unfunny Clarkson.rnrnCTC bod made good point about inflammatory language.

  • Anonymous

    Rayner, unlike his Brother who seems pretty laidback and cool, seems to be lapping up some negative attention on his twitter page. Though it could just be banter, I’m not that good with twitter (only just started playing with facebook this last month)nnI had a small success today after writing the above. I’d sent some clarifications to the MEN on “road tax”, LOL, and they’ve printed it. Its under “motoring is cheap” I think.

  • Dan

    I have to say that I agree with this idea that bikes should have “tags”.nthe Barclay bikes are hardly well numbered are they? those numbers are on the bike, but not in a place that anyone can see them as a person flees from the scene of a crime.nnthis site is full of vitriol for those who misrepresent the truth, yet it seems to do a fair amount of misrepresenting itself. how can you possibly say that those bikes are “well numbered”?nnit’s just as much of a crime for cyclists to jump red lights as it is for car drivers.njust as much of a crime for a cyclist to damage a car and then flee without leaving any details as it would be for a car driver to do the same.nit’s just as much a crime for a cyclist to ride on the pavement as it would be for a car drive there.njust as bad for a cyclist to hit a person and disappear as it would be for a car driver.njust as much a crime for a cyclist to undertake a car at traffic lights scratching the paint and then leaving without giving the car driver their name and address such that they can contact them to seek reparations. as it would be for a car to come into contact with another car, damage it and drive off.nnperhaps there should be a plate scheme for bikes, but it should be a free scheme, [or capped at the cost of the plate/paperwork at first registration, then perhaps a small amount [capped at the actual admin cost] for updating details if you move house]. (bikes offer help and environmental benefits, so the cost of the scheme is offset by other savings).n(so only a one time cost if you never move house!).nnperhaps having a big yellow plate on the back would mean that the bad cyclists would take more care. good cyclists shouldn’t have anything to worry about. if you’re a good law abiding cyclist you’ll never have “the fuzz” knocking on your door. bad cyclist could perhaps be expecting several knocks as they have to start claiming on their house insurance or paying up for the damage that they DO cause to cars whilst scraping past them on roads, or people whilst scraping past them on pavements.nnif nothing else, having a plate on the back of the bike, that’s required to be displayed and ties to the owners address/serial number of the bike would also decrease bike crime.nnand for the list of crimes above.nI’ve seem on this site a few times now people saying that they jump redlights because they are afraid of getting squashed by the car.nnif you’re afraid, then get off the road, if you’re too scared to drive then don’t. if you’re too scared to cycle then don’t… (same for motorbikes and horses).nif you’re afraid to be on the road, then you endanger yourself, and other people who are trying to use the road responsibly.nnAnother misconception on this site is that cyclists should be in the middle of the lane.nMotor cyclists should be in the middle of the lane, (it’s called the command position).ncyclists should be approximately 1 meter from the kerb basically to avoid any gutters or raised iron works and not take up so much road space that it becomes unsafe for other traffic to pass them -that’s what I learned in my cycling proficiency tests a long time ago.nnit also taught me that ridding two abreast was not to be done.nnit seems crazy that this site which is campaigning for cyclists to be given respect is full of people making remarks that actually encourage the hatred from other road users.nnpeople saying they jump red lights, people saying that they bang on cars to let people know they are there. why would you do this? lets say you’re riding along with headphones in. would you appreciate people punching the back of your bike “just to let you know they are there”?nnI guess what I’m saying here is “consideration people”.nwhat goes around comes around. if you act like a massive ass on the roads, then other road users won’t want you there. (I tend to hate mostly all other road users regardless of their transport means).nncycling should be encouraged. but you’re not going to encourage a future generation to act like the Dutch when cycling when you’re being as impolite and law breaking as the rest of the British road users.nn(whilst I’m ranting).nI also think that VED should be scrapped.nit’s a terrible idea, badly implemented, it doesn’t at all bear any resemblance to the pollution that a car generates. VED should be scrapped and replaced by a marginal increase in fuel duty. -since it’s all based around pollution anyway.nthen anyone burning the motion potion, be it in car bike or lawn mower will pay for what they pollute.nnMy rant has come from the point of view of…nA person who lives in Oxford, where there is a mix of brilliant and terrible cyclists.na person who only uses public transport in London.na person who loves ridding their biken(sadly also as a person who’s had their bike stolen before)na person who owns a motorbike and loves riding that toona person who uses a car to get to workna person who uses their car to get to work (I wouldn’t cycle to work, because the roads I drive on just aren’t safe to cycle on in my opinion). -i.e. I take my own advise, if I didn’t feel safe on a stretch of road, I wouldn’t use it.na person who did cycling proficiency test at school.na person who knows how to give (and read) hand traffic signals.na person who gives respect to all road users. and lastly a person who wants to get respect back, regardless of what mode of transport I’ve chosen that morning.nnLastly (just a little tit-bit of information). if you want a bit more space on the road. wear a cycle helmet with a long wig.nresearches at the University of Bath (about 4 years ago), got on a bike and rode around the city with equipment on their bikes that measured the mount of distance a car left between it and the cycle it was passing.nthen repeated the test whilst wearing a wig so as to look like a woman.nnwomen, were on average afforded more space by motorists when passing them. n

  • Captainstegs

    Troll.nnAll your “it is just as much of a crime” lines are nonsense for the simple reason that a car is far more capable of killing and causing massive damage. If a car runs a red light it can kill, if a bike does the same…not likely at all.u00a0Obviously whilst both are criminal they are not as much of a crime as each other. Is carryinging a catapultu00a0with ball bearings as much of a crime as carrying a gun? Both are capable of killing, both are weapons, but I think it’s just a little bit more illegal to carry a gun don’t you?nnIf there were a cycle registration scheme it should be free, but there is no such thing, as eventually it all comes back to the tax payer, and why should cyclists have to pay? They’re already saving the government money by reducing road congestion, pollution, road wear and (by being fitter) probably hospital charges. How about all noncyclists have to pay for the cyclists registration seeing as noncyclists cost more to support? As I say registration is nonsense.nnJumping red lights to avoid being squashed is not about being afraid, it’s about cycling as safely as possible. I’m sorry if you feel that doing things safely is a bad idea. If a light is on red at a junction I will roll slowlyu00a0to the otherside of the pedestrian crossing. I ensure I’m highly visible, and I get out of a dangerous junction as quickly as possible whilst motorists benefit from not having to negotiate the junction and overtake me at the same time. It’s win, win; why would anybody be against this?nnThe Highway code states that a car should give as much room when overtaking a bike as it would overtaking a car so it should make hardly any difference whether you’re in the middle of the road or 1m from the kerb.nRiding in the command position is safer. I’ve been cycling by the kerb at the same speed as the traffic and cars half overtake, position themselves next to me and try and run in me into the back of parked cars. The safe position when moving at the speed of the traffic is therefore the command position. Riding down a narrow road with cars parked the whole way along on the other side I again ride in the command position as there is not enough room for vehicles to safely overtake me with the oncoming traffic. This does not prevent them from trying it though and nearly killing me.nnGroups of cyclists may also perform a manoeuvre called “corking” where they will on purpose make it impossible for a driver to overtake at dangerous sections by riding a few abreast. This is again a safe way to cycle as drivers will try and overtake when they shouldn’t putting cyclists lives at risk.nnI’ve banged on the back of a van once, because he had half overtaken me and then proceeded to encroach on the cycle lane and try and run me over, Next time I’ll take your advice and just get run over shall I? Banging made him aware I was there and he gave me the room I needed. He then went and pulled in and tried having a go, because he was a jerknnIt does make me angry that somebody cannot see the benefits of cycling confidently and that somebody who claims to enjoy “ridding” their bike (whatever that means) is highlighting the statistically negligible downsides of cycling rather than championing the many benefits.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Streona

    Running red lights by cyclists could be formalised by having a separate green light for cyclists allowing them 10 seconds head start to clear the junction. There are road markings that allow cyclists to wait ahead of cars but these are universally ignored.

  • Cap’t Boff

    Your comment of “If a car runs a red light it can kill, if a bike does the same…not likely at all” I beg to differ. I have been hit as a pedestrian by 2 different cyclists on 2 different occasions as I was crossing at the pedestrian crossing. The cyclists ran red lights, hit me and continued. Admittedly the first time I was not badly hurt, bruises and grazes, but the 2nd time the cyclist was travelling extremely fast and I ended up in hospital with serious head injuries… The cyclist nowhere to be seen, not traceable and not held accountable for what happened. Totally unacceptable! Something has to give. As much as cyclists complain about drivers, there are a vast number of irresponsible and reckless cyclists that should be held accountable for their actions just as car drivers would be if they had caused an accident.