The independent London newspaper

It’s time to curb cycling lawlessness

10 March, 2017

• THE width of the capital’s pavements has changed little in decades. London’s pavements, in some places, are now very crowded indeed.

The number of cyclists has increased by some 200 per cent since the turn of the century with, today, more than 600,000 cycle journeys daily. If these cycling trends continue, says Transport for London, the numbers commuting to central London by bike will have overtaken those in cars by 2020. This enthusiasm for cycling is mostly for the good. Cycling is healthy, relatively inexpensive and environmentally sound.

There were no more than 20 vehicles on Britain’s roads in 1895, and that number increased to some 10,000 by the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. To help regulate the massive increase, the Motor Car Act 1903 introduced vehicle registration numbers. There were a million drivers in Britain by 1921 and, today, there are more than 27 million vehicles on our roads. No one today questions the need for vehicle registration or driver licensing, insurance and tests.

However, while hardly any pavements have been widened, roads have been narrowed to construct cycle lanes. Yet while so much has been done to accommodate cyclists, many have not responded gratefully.

The number of violations daily of the rules of the road is plain for all to see. Many cyclists speed along, taking little consideration of prevailing conditions, and are a danger to themselves and to others.

It is time for a new approach, as in the first 10 years of motoring, so that cycling and cyclists may be regulated and, when appropriate, made accountable. It is time to consider cycle speed limits, cycle registration, cyclist licensing and insurance as it’s clear that too many cyclists have embraced a lawlessness similar to that among early settlers in the Wild West – without the guns.

It is also time for City Hall to appoint a champion for pedestrians and to insist on robust law enforcement for all road, cycle path and towpath cycle users.

Safety first for all must be the mantra, not just safety for cyclists.

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