In the latest in a series of announcements about the future of cycling in the UK, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has discussed potentially introducing a 20mph speed limit for cyclists.
Earlier this month, Shapps vowed to introduce a ‘Death by Dangerous Cycling’ law after several major incidents that meant that the guilty cyclist received a much shorter sentence in comparison to someone behind the wheel of a car.
The goal of this, according to the Transport Secretary, is to stop certain dangerous driving behaviours perpetrated by cyclists on roads across the country. However, his proposals don’t just stop there, as there have also been discussions about introducing number plates and insurance for cyclists under plans for the new law.
As a result, cyclists could receive licence penalty points and fines for breaking speed limits, running red lights, and other illegal manoeuvres.
He says that this would be a deterrant to reckless behaviour from some cyclists that cause accidents through dangerous driving – and lead to more appropriate punishments.
Shapps told the Daily Mail: “Somewhere where cyclists are actually not breaking the law is when they speed, and that cannot be right, so I absolutely propose extending speed limit restrictions to cyclists. Particularly where you’ve got 20mph limits on increasing numbers of roads, cyclists can easily exceed those, so I want to make speed limits apply to cyclists. That obviously does then lead you into the question of: ‘Well, how are you going to recognise the cyclist? Do you need registration plates and insurance? And that sort of thing.”
“So, I am proposing there should be a review of insurance and how you actually track cyclists who do break the laws.”
There has been a rise in the number of cyclists in the UK in recent years, and Shapps doesn’t want this trend to end. He believes that this will help tackle the ‘selfish minority’ who are giving the rest of the cycling community a bad reputation.
He continued: “I don’t want to stop people from getting on their bike: It’s a fantastic way to travel. We’ve seen a big explosion of cycling during Covid and since, I think it has lots of health benefits.”
“But I see no reason why cyclists should break the road laws, why they should speed, why they should bust red lights and be able to get away with it. I think we do have to not turn a blind eye to that and I’m proposing setting up a review to do exactly that.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Everybody has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe on the road, so it’s right that cyclists, like drivers, should have to obey the rules or face being fined or prosecuted. However, these proposals are potentially a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ and could end up discouraging people from cycling which, in turn, may have the unintended consequence of increasing congestion on our roads.”
Earlier this year, several changes were made to the Highway Code that altered the hierarchy of road users. This gave cyclists priority over other road users, with the exception of pedestrians.
Further discussions are set to be held by ministers this month, and any new updates to the law will be added to the proposed Transport Bill this autumn. With this and the recent developments in the works regarding the future of cycling in the UK, all drivers should be keeping up to date with any new rules that could affect how we share our roads.