"You're nicked!" Lord Sugar sparks debate on whether cyclists should carry compulsory ID

Government says no plans to follow regime operating in countrires such as US during debate on pavement cyclists

by Simon_MacMichael   December 9, 2011  

Lord Sugar at the Cycle Show (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Lord Sugar has ignited a debate over whether cyclists in the UK, like those in some parts of the US, should be required to carry identification with police being given powers to confiscate the bicycles of those who fail to provide it, but the government has said it has no plans to do so.

The Amstrad founder and host of the BBC show The Apprentice, himself a keen cyclist and owner of a fleet of Pinarello bikes, was speaking yesterday during a debate in the House of Lords following a question about pavement cyclists tabled by Labour peer Lord Harrison.

This morning Lord Sugar added to his earlier comments by saying he believed cyclists should carry ID so police could check the identity of those committing offences such as riding through red lights or cycling on the pavement, but also because of its value should a cyclists suffer a mishap that rendered them unconscious.

Lord Sugar, who regularly cycles both in Britain and when saying at his other homes in both Spain and Florida, asked government transport spokesman Lord Atlee, "Is it mandatory for a cyclist using the roads to carry some form of identification on them?”

"In the United States of America we are told to carry identification with us so that the police can take action against people who are riding on pavements or jumping lights.

"If you don't have identification with you, they confiscate your bike and it is up to you to go and get it back and pay a big fine."

In reply, Lord Atlee, who is the grandson of the Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, said the government had no plans to introduce such a requirement.

Speaking this morning on BBC Breakfast, Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator at national cyclists’ organisation CTC, said; “We’re very pleased to see the government has no intention” of requiring cyclists to carry identification.

“We feel it’s a completely disproportionate to measure to take,” he continued. “We don’t force people to carry ID in this country, it’s a very different attitude to identification that they have in the US or other parts of Europe.

“Pedestrians don’t have to carry identification. Even in a car, you don’t have to have your driving licence with you at all times, you have to present it if you’re challenged by the police at a police station at a later date, so this wouldn’t really be a very suitable or sensible thing to do, we feel.

“It’s disproportionate because simply the number of people being injured by cyclists doing the wrong thing is so minimal compared to the dangers presented by motor vehicles, and we feel that the solution to this is to have lots more traffic police out on the streets trying to tackle problems for everyone.”

“Cyclists fall into a middle ground between motor vehicle users and pedestrians. Are we going to do it to kids as well as adults? Where do you draw the line? A lot of people have passports, most people have driving licences.

“We don’t actually have an identification system in this country that we can force people to adopt, and if we brought it in for cyclists, that would mean an enormous amount of bureaucracy being created, at huge cost to the Exchequer. I think that’s why the government is unwilling to do this.

“What we’d like to see is the existing regulations enforced better, more police out there on the junctions where cyclist are seen to be jumping red lights, catching red light jumping there. They would also pick up all the motor vehicles doing exactly the same thing. 49 per cent of cars in 30mph areas were breaking the speed limit last year. It’s road user behaviour on a wide scale that we’re looking to improve.”

Lord Harrison’s initial question was inspired by he and his wife encountering a pavement cyclist as they left a Chinese restaurant in Chester who told them “with an entirely straight face that, as he had no lights on his bike, he was obliged to ride on the pavement.”

In response to his initial question, Lord Attlee said that there had been “680 reported personal injury road accidents involving cyclists on the footway on GB roads” during 2010, although he added that the Department for Transport did not record who had been at fault in those.

He added that during the same year, some 342 cyclists faced magistrates’ courts proceedings in connection with cycling on pavements, adding that the offence was usually dealt with through fixed penalty notices, which weren’t recorded centrally.

He added: "Education is more important than enforcement, especially with youngsters. Frankly it is not realistic to issue a fixed-penalty notice to a 10-year-old."

Labour peer Lord Young, who said he cycled to the House of Lords each day pointed out: “I experience many irresponsible motorists on my journeys.

“There are motorists who think it is okay to overtake on a humpbacked bridge and those who think it is okay to go on the wrong side of a traffic island to overtake, not to mention the motorist who kindly almost ran me over on a roundabout earlier this week.”

He also asked Lord Attlee whether he agreed that more people should be encouraged to cycle, “and that we should also be encouraging responsible cycling and driving?”

In reply, Lord Attlee urged all motorists “to regularly read the Highway Code because the contents do change.”

On Twitter this morning, Lord Sugar expanded on his comments yesterday, saying: "Cyclists should carry some form of ID, so they can get nicked by police for jumping pavement or lights. Otherwise they just lie who they are."

He added that carrying ID was also a good idea for cyclists "in case they get knocked off bike in serious accident that might render them unconscious" and that when out riding, he always carried ID, cash for a taxi and a phone.

58 user comments

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AND Greedy lord sugar will try to make a profit from it.

posted by Grishnak [41 posts]
9th December 2011 - 20:15


cborrman wrote:
For starters mounting pavements is not an offence for cyclists. Niether i believe is jumping a red???? When cyclists are "done" for this, it can only be under the premise of them endangering the public (the offence) by doing so.... So maybe sugar should get his facts right before making a fool of himself with nonsense proposals that highlight his misunderstanding of the law, and ignorance of the fact that this is a country that does not have id cards and has refused to so repeatedly and refutedly... What a waste of time and breath

As the excellent BikeHub article on Cycling and the Law says, in most cases, what we understand as 'pavements' are, in the letter of the law 'footways.'


Here is what BikeHub says: "Cycling on footways (a path at the side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888. This is punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £30 under Section 51 and Schedule 3 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988."

In 1999, then Home Office Minister Paul Boateng issued guidance saying the FPN should only be issued where a cyclist is riding in a manner that may endanger others(again from BikeHub). He added:

"The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.”

If you read the BikeHub article, you'll see that riding on the 'pavement' is a bit of a legal minefield - effectively whether or not it is illegal depends on how the law classifies the bit you're actually riding on.

There's no ambiguity for red lights though. Riding or driving through them is illegal, full stop.

If you really weren't aware of that, you probably need to read the Highway Code, which has a dedicated section on Rules for Cyclists.

Here's Rule 69:

"You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals."


Oh, and PS - the US, the example Sugar was citing, doesn't have a national ID card scheme either, for much the same reasons we don't (politicians across the spectrum seeing it as too controlling and intrusive).

The difference is that if you're stopped by a police officer there, whether you're in a car, on a bike or on foot, you really do need to be carrying something that proves who you are if you want to avoid a lot of hassle.

Wife (American) makes me carry my passport everywhere when over there for that very reason, even if popping out for 5 minutes.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9509 posts]
9th December 2011 - 20:45


I'd suggest Plod takes a little more interest in the number of drivers jumping red lights. Seems to have suddenly become de rigeur to go through on amber or red - I witness examples just about every time I'm on the road. Nearly T-Boned a taxi in Leicester this morning. Professional drivers, my arse. Angry

ColT's picture

posted by ColT [266 posts]
9th December 2011 - 20:48


Mat Brett wrote:
I bought an Amstrad midi system in 1985. It had a graphic equalizer and tape to tape.

It's broken already. And for that reason, I will never believe anything Sir Alan ever says.

I bought an Amstrad Notepad (basically like the keyboard bit of a laptop with a little display showing five lines of text) in my final year at uni. Half-price at WH Smith which should have been a warning.

Everything worked fine until, approaching midnight the night before a 5,000 word assessed essay needed to go in, it decided it wasn't having any Crying

That was a very long and frantic night trying to get everything back together from notes, drafts and memory to rewrite it longhand...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9509 posts]
9th December 2011 - 21:53


"The difference is that if you're stopped by a police officer there, whether you're in a car, on a bike or on foot, you really do need to be carrying something that proves who you are if you want to avoid a lot of hassle."

Not so Simon. Only in special circumstances on foot or cycling. They often like to think they can but they have no right to normally.

posted by IHphoto [113 posts]
9th December 2011 - 22:09


true - the states don't have a national system but they do have access to a national database of one's driver license. I am aware of a rider when pulled over, gave a false name - the cop verified this in his patrol car & arrested the rider. The result - a misdemeanor ticket became a couple grand expense with a not so comfy seat in a cell! Talk about F-ing nuts!

Yes the drivers license is only effective for those that drive which is why some politicians proposed licensing the bikes here in LA. That never passed.

yikes ID

posted by YIKES ID [2 posts]
9th December 2011 - 22:36


IHphoto wrote:
Not so Simon. Only in special circumstances on foot or cycling. They often like to think they can but they have no right to normally.

Shall I tell the missus she's wrong or would someone like to volunteer Wink

Thing is, if you get a PCSO who doesn't know rules here, that can lead to a difficult situation till it's all resolved - but from what she says, if you get an awkward cop in Texas, say, that is a whole different matter. You might be able to eventually convince the guy he's wrong, but it won't be fun on the way.

Not to do with ID, but we've had a few stories on site of NYPD cops who didn't seem to have much regard for what the law actually states when targeting cyclists, for example.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9509 posts]
9th December 2011 - 22:42


If only I was one of those cyclists that give us a bad name cycling on pavements, jumping red lights, maybe I'd still have a bike to ride instead of it (and me to some extent) being squashed by a bus.
How about addressing the sh**e roads that we have to commute on, the sh**e car & bus drivers that seem to want to kill us every day, then we can talk about prosecuting the odd cyclist here and there for wanting to cycle on the pavements.
Maybe Lard Sugar should get a few more years peak time commuting under his belt before commenting.

posted by pieeater [7 posts]
9th December 2011 - 22:53


I wear a roadID. It has my Name, DOB, phone contact details on it (family), my blood type and that I am an organ donor. It also carries my signature(road cc)and war cry of
I carry my CI(Cycling Ireland (vet))licence and believe that is all I need carry for identification purposes. I don't ride on the pavement...and there certainly aren't that many where I ride either. I think Mr Sugar is out to lunch on this one. On that note a fellow cyclist was stopped and warned by the Gardai after 'running' a red light at roadworks, despite there actually being no roadworks going on and no opposing traffic...can't say I condone his actions, but the Garda must have been on a slow day...


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posted by The _Kaner [642 posts]
9th December 2011 - 22:56


I was pushing my 2 year old daughter in the buggy along the pavement on Hoe Street Walthamstow at 4pm when the buggy was hit by a cyclist. Thankfully she was ok, he wasn't going fast, obviously he was going too fast to avoid hitting the buggy, and he didn't have lights, so we didn't see him either.
Actually it's alright for pavement cyclists to ride without lights isn't it? That's what he told me anyway, that's the reason he gave, and that if he was on the road he'd get hit by the cars because they wouldn't see him. Also the Police, well they wouldn't let him on the road either, would they? Not without lights.
I suppose he was a bit apologetic because he kept saying that he didn't mean to nearly kill my baby. Even when I told him to walk the bike on the pavement, he carried on riding it, even though the pavement was full of,...well,... of pedestrians, you tend to get quite a few of them around school kicking out time.
He looked like he was cycling, not for exercise or speed, but because he didn't like walking.
He seemed typical of a pavement cyclist, no lights, no helmet, saddle too low, and on a bike several sizes too small.
I'm sure that if he wasn't riding a bike, he'd probably be on a Camel, an invisible one, you never actually see Camels but you do see the spit trails they leave in their wake. So yes, between dodging the bikes and the spit, they can make pavements quite hazardous on a daily basis.


posted by tommy2p [86 posts]
10th December 2011 - 2:53


I carry my driver's licence, plus my phone and some money when I go for recreational rides. Of course when I am commuting i will have my wallet etc on me. Small saddle bags are excellent for this. I've got a Deuter one with an expandable section for a small rain jacket or some extra gear/tools.

posted by elstado [17 posts]
10th December 2011 - 8:04


dave_atkinson wrote:
He has a Pinarello and tries to do two 50-mile rides a week. so yes, he's keen. he likes to ride alone though.

Really, wonder why?

OldRidgeback wrote:
Alan Sugar is a businessman and a pretty hard nosed one at that. He's astute and not afraid of speaking his mind. That doesn't mean everything he says is a great idea. Because of who he is, people listen though.

Sugar propagates the notion that the only thing that matters is the "bottom line". Life is reduced to a set of numbers on a balance sheet. Personally I find that approach disgusting so I for one do not listen (or watch).


PeteH's picture

posted by PeteH [159 posts]
10th December 2011 - 10:11


Some say he's no sense of irony, calling for more regulation of cyclists when drivers kill more and he opposes business regulations.

All we know is, he's called the Shug.

Has cycling found its Clarkson?

posted by a.jumper [833 posts]
10th December 2011 - 10:48


Devil Like alot of the drivers around me I thought red lights were only advisory! Anyway the police can only demand once they've stopped you and their H&S doesn't allow them off road!

Catch me if you can!

posted by andy_ark [3 posts]
10th December 2011 - 13:05

1 Like

With reference to the law/highway code on cycling on footpaths (£30 fine), what about all the cars that drive up on to footpaths when parking should they not all recieve similar fines? Thinking


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [734 posts]
10th December 2011 - 14:42


Hi again, I thought that the reason for "Laws" was for safety purposes? So that means traffic stays on roads, pedestrians use pavements when not crossing carriagewaqys and the "Wooden Tops" caught those who did it in the wrong way! Sorry if I've got it wrong, but that was what I read about when I last read the Highway Code. The fact that far too many chumps cycle on pavements gets me grief when I don't! But if I were to ride my 30 inch wide trke on the pavement there would be either carnage or no progress, so I stay on the road where I have the right to move, rather than the pavement where I have no Legal Right! Wise up, ride on the road and make drivers use a modicum of patience. TTFN MM

mersey mouth

posted by mersey mouth [7 posts]
10th December 2011 - 15:03


Simon_MacMichael wrote:
is a custom paintjob in honour of one Alejandro Valverde. Oh the irony.

I thought it was Sastre's special paintjob after he won the tour?

Anyway back on topic: what qualifies him to talk publicly on this subject? so he rides a bike occasionally but never to actually get anywhere - for that he has a chauffeur.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
10th December 2011 - 16:32


TheHatter wrote:
I thought it was Sastre's special paintjob after he won the tour?

Initial paintjob was on Valverde's bike for the 2008 Tour, rush job commemorating him winning the Spanish national RR title the week before.

Sastre won that year's TDF on a Cervelo.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9509 posts]
10th December 2011 - 17:51


Don't you realise that they have been chipping us for years! Next time you are in Tesco get them to scan the back of your neck.

posted by efail [64 posts]
10th December 2011 - 18:13

1 Like

Cycling used to be fun once. Its a little like football before the premiership
When did Sugar last ride a bike. Why do we need his ideas, he gave up on business years ago to make Beeb shows.
Many value the freedom of cycling but there is always someone trying to enlist big brother ..


spragger's picture

posted by spragger [26 posts]
10th December 2011 - 21:05

1 Like

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
TheHatter wrote:
I thought it was Sastre's special paintjob after he won the tour?

Initial paintjob was on Valverde's bike for the 2008 Tour, rush job commemorating him winning the Spanish national RR title the week before.

Sastre won that year's TDF on a Cervelo.

Apologies, of course you're right, I stand corrected. Smile

spragger wrote:
Cycling used to be fun once. Its a little like football before the premiership

no, don't worry that won't happen to cycling until Sky get involved with the sport. Oh. Surprise

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
10th December 2011 - 22:05


Is he trying to improve relations between us and other road users by making cyclists more accountable? I don't have a problem with the principle, but I don't think people should be obliged to carry ID or have their bike confiscated.

I would be happy to have some kind of numberplate to allow police to identify my bike though - or a database of frame numbers it could be checked against.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
11th December 2011 - 1:06


When out cycling I have a card with a couple of ICE #s, Name and medical info. When out walking it's the same. When driving, I do not carry my licence. The police if they Pcheck me in any of these modes have the access to data bases that will confirm who I say I am.

To suggest going down this route is daft. Though, confiscating the bikes of those who RLJ and pavement cycle is quite a nice idea. If they are suggesting that cyclists should carry ID, then parity is called for and ALL road users should carry ID. I would take it further and have vehicles displaying a VED, MOT and insurance disc. Any vehicle not or with expired discs gets impounded.

Would under 18's need an ID? IF not, would they need to be accompanied by an adult? This suggestion is only making cycling less desireable. Fortunately it was only a motion to make the lords time less tedious.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1186 posts]
11th December 2011 - 20:07


The problem is not the pavement cyclists. There is no such thing as a bad cyclist, just bad infrastructure.

posted by chris22 [5 posts]
12th December 2011 - 5:55

1 Like

On my way in this morning I saw a cyclist actually stop at a pedestrian crossing when there were no pedestrians crossing - that's progress!

As a reasonably responsible cyclist - who doesn't run the odd red light? (probably quite a few of you) but often when I break the rules it is because someone else is doing the same thing and squeezing me out of my space. If a lorry, 5 mopeds and a car are sat in the advanced bike stop box then of course you are going to try and get in front and sometimes break a rule if you think your safety is compromised, which it quite often is.

There are some horrendous cyclists about also and you wince when you see them taking ridiculous risks but there are just as many horrendous bus drivers, pedestrians and generally anyone who is also squashed into this tiny land of ours and trying to get around. Accountability is all our responsibilities and shouldn't need to be in the form of an ID card.

posted by Martbo23 [11 posts]
12th December 2011 - 11:08

1 Like

Here's an interesting point here. A couple of years ago I was stopped taking my 7 year old son home from school by bike. Yes we traveled on the pavement and we were stopped by the police.

Sorry you and your son can't do that I was told. I said I could because a 7 year is not allowed in control on the road in or on any form of vehicle and that as his father I was also allowed to follow my son providing that I caused no nuisance to other pavement users. Which we hadn't. In fact a couple of people came up to tell this jobs worth copper we had been polite and gave way to them and others on the pavement.

The copper asked for my name and address and said he would have to check into this because he thought I was wrong. Day later the copper was eating humble pie saying next time I will be done.

Further more I brought this up with the Police London Bike Squad at a show a couple of weeks later. I was correct in my research. There is actually no law against riding on a pavement its the way you do it. You see cars parked on pavements and they are not done because presumibly they would have had to drive on the pavements to park.

Generally I ride on the rode its better and quicker but sons ride on the pavement if they are at risk

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
12th December 2011 - 12:21

1 Like

Just what constitutes "Jumping a Red Light"?
The term does not distinguish two quite separate cases:

1) A cyclist ignores the red light and blunders through, coming into conflict with other traffic and/or pedestrians.

Such a cyclist should be shot.

2) A cyclist stops at the red light and, knowing the phasing of the lights and having observed there are no pedestrians crossing, and all traffic has come to a halt, pulls away marginally before the light turns to red & amber.

Such a cyclist is behaving considerately and is reducing, not only their risk, but that of other road users. Yet, they'll be fined for their efforts. I was.

I continue this practice at a few junctions where two lanes of waiting traffic converge into a single lane at the opposite side of the junction. It is best not be cycling there when the motor vehicles converge. You are at risk of getting squashed, while drivers jockey for position. You are also annoying drivers, because you are in the way. Annoyed drivers are dangerous drivers, so it best to avoid annoying them. (Getting a second's head start on them, probably annoys them too, but my estimate is that it should annoy them less.)

I do the same, for the same reason, at road works, where the single remaining lane is too narrow for a car to safely overtake a bicycle. I have been hooted at for being in the way, in such a scenario, so now I go when I judge it is safe, regardless of the red light.

I can survive a fine. I am not sure I can survive a crash.

So nick me!

posted by hmb [4 posts]
12th December 2011 - 12:32

1 Like

Requiring people to carry ID takes us back to the second world war when it was likely that we were being invaded (although with the Eurostar "Lille" loophole I think we now are!).

Incidentally whenever I am stopped by the Police I show my driving license without being asked.

This is my take on red lights (which were of course introduced for cars, not bicycles)

1. If there is no left turn, cyclists should be allowed to go through on red.
2. Cyclists should be allowed to turn left on red.
3. Cyclists should be allowed to go through red lights off-peak - this especially applies to lights that are only triggered by the weight of a car. In fact why not go one better and switch lights to flashing amber off peak?
4. If a cyclist is threatened or feels threatened by a motorist they should be allowed to go through a red light.
5. Discretion should be shown in extreme weather conditions. Motorists have heaters in their cars the only heater a cyclist has is powered by movement.

I have seen a cyclist rush through a red light in front of a bus and almost been hit, something I would never do myself.

If there is no advance stop line I will always go over the line and stop just after the pedestrian crossing. This is purely defensive so that I don't get hit by left turning cars.

While I'm at it, all "one-way" streets should have an implicit cycle contra-flow unless explicity restricted.

Will it happen? When the love affair with the car comes to an end. Mind you in Beeching's time the railways were costing £18 million per year compared to £600 million per year for the roads, so I won't hold my breath.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
14th December 2011 - 15:52


chris22 wrote:
The problem is not the pavement cyclists. There is no such thing as a bad cyclist, just bad infrastructure.

This is the kind of attitude that gets cyclists a load of abuse. I regularly see terrible cycling in London - the kind that makes you wince when they pull off a stupid move right in front of you, or a bus, or they nearly knock down a pedestrian on the pavement.

Those people are a minority, but its becoming more common. And it means that those that do ride safely and considerately are generally treated with less respect because everyone assumes they are a pavement cycling, red light jumping cyclist and that if the cyclists don't obey the rules, why should they?

So please, don't try to excuse unsafe and anti-social cycling by blaming it on the infrastructure. If you can't cycle safely somewhere legally, take a different route, and write to the council and your MP about the need to improve the infrastructure.

posted by step-hent [718 posts]
14th December 2011 - 17:42

1 Like

Lose your wallet/purse? HAVE TO WALK HOME Capital Cycles

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
4th July 2013 - 11:56

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