More than half of Queenslanders would like to see licences on bicycles

But most admit motorists are generally more to blame for collisions

by Sarah Barth   February 24, 2013  

Australia flag.jpg

More than half of people in Queensland, Australia, believe that bicycles should be licenced, in order to discourage reckless riding, but most people do concede that motorists are generally more to blame for collisions, a poll found.

53 per cent of those surveyed wanted cyclists to be licensed in some way, with women and older people being more likely to be in favour.

41 per cent believed intolerance of motorists was largely to blame for run-ins with cyclists, while slightly fewer people blamed reckless riding by cyclists at 37 per cent.

There is no city in the world that currently requires bicycles to be licenced. In Switzerland until recently there was a requirement to have a small numberplate. Anyone caught riding a bike without a license was subject to a CHF40 (£30) fine.

The small fee for the licence covered third party insurance for use in the case of a collision. In 2010 it was decided to abolish the licence.

Bicycle Queensland CEO Ben Wilson said the poll results were representative of the section of the population that chose to ride a bike.

"The results pretty much represent what we've got. Nearly half the people in the state are bike riders, a bit more than half aren't," he told The Australian.

Paul Turner from peak motoring body RACQ said it would be impossible to administrate.

"The reason it's complex is many cyclists have multiple bikes, and then you have children riding," he said.

"While we understand some people believe there would be advantages in registration, it's extraordinarily difficult to implement."

But Brisbane cyclist and surgeon Caroline Acton, 60, said she "saw the logic" in requiring riders to be licensed.

"I think it would be a sign of goodwill because there is a lot of antagonism between drivers and cyclists," she said.

"There are examples of silly behaviour from drivers and cyclists, but I'm an injury-prevention researcher and we usually come off worse."

A spokeswoman for Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said the Government was not considering requiring cyclists to be registered or licensed.

"A cyclist is still at risk of being fined if they fail to adhere to road rules," she said.

Australian legislators and cyclists have been at loggerheads before, particularly over the issue of compulsory helmets.

Cyclists riding without a helmet in Victoria currently face a fine of A$176.

Australia’s compulsory helmet laws have been blamed for usage of bike-sharing schemes in Brisbane and Melbourne that is at low levels compared to those in cities elsewhere, as outlined in this On Your Bike blog post written by Michael O'Reilly and published in The Age.

12 user comments

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other reasons for the bike hire scheme not working in Brisbane include;
- it is very hilly - no way i would want to ride a 3 speed Boris bike in Brisbane
- it is very hot and humid in the summer. just look outside and you start sweating

posted by dbb [34 posts]
24th February 2013 - 14:31


Bike licencing was practiced in Pretoria, South Africa during the mid 80s. I don't know if it was country wide. I once was fined, when12 yr old, for parking my bike on the pavement rather than the road. I know; idiots abound! It was Country stupid idea. I'm not sure if it is still practiced.

Still smiling politely at a persistently flat chain.

velophilia's picture

posted by velophilia [39 posts]
24th February 2013 - 16:17


Didn't check for random predictive text.

Still smiling politely at a persistently flat chain.

velophilia's picture

posted by velophilia [39 posts]
24th February 2013 - 16:19


They love their cars in Queensland, a lot. Its hot, sweaty and all very spread out, so people dont really commute by bike, only keen cyclists. Set your attitude back twenty years if you visit.

posted by lolol [176 posts]
24th February 2013 - 18:23


Australian motorists have licences and the majority of cyclists are more than likely car owners also... non of this stops either party behaving like utter wankers on the roads and blatantly disregarding any 'rules' that may be in place here in Sydney.

I've literally cycled half the world and never ridden is such a hostile, incompetent road environment as Australia.

Phew! Sorry... just feel the need to vent when the topic of Australian roads comes up Smile

Philx's picture

posted by Philx [37 posts]
24th February 2013 - 18:54


Well look how well it stops drivers behaving anti-socially on the roads...not.

Just another way to decrease cycling as is the compulsory helmet law.

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
24th February 2013 - 19:57


Could not agree more. As an Aussie returning home after 15 years in London, Singapore and Switzerland I am amazed at the road conscience of my fellow Aussies. I live in Sydney and cycle everyday on a road bike and I can tell you the numbers are booming, but the drivers still think they own the road. Part of the problem is the compulsory 3rd party insurance has doubled since 2005 making every driver feel like they paid for the road so every one else should get off it. A licensing scheme for bikes would do nothing more than make tradesmen in "utes", school run mums in 4WD's etc. feel like they've won a battle with the government to be recognised.

Cannondale Supersix Evo US Champ Edition - Campy Super Record
Cannondale Supersix Evo Team Liquigas - Campy Super Record rebuild
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BMC SLR02 - Shimano 105

posted by mike_ibcyclist [57 posts]
24th February 2013 - 22:25


Also they don't want daylight saving as it will fade the curtains and upset the cows.

posted by bigant [43 posts]
24th February 2013 - 23:02


I moved to Melbourne from Oxford, which I thought was a bit tough until I started cycling here - man, it was a breeze.

A good proportion of drivers here think indicators are optional, traffic lights provide mere guidance, and mirrors are for checking out one's tattoos.

A Kiwi colleague of mine mentioned that she thought cycling here was pretty safe. She got doored not long ago (bruised leg, arm and ego, nothing serious); for some reason she's changed her mind.

Saying that, some of the cyclists are UTTER wankers.

pishtie's picture

posted by pishtie [3 posts]
25th February 2013 - 7:26


Just another form of taxation! But I do agree with the idea of third party insurance:?

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
25th February 2013 - 8:23

1 Like

Seoige wrote:
Just another form of taxation! But I do agree with the idea of third party insurance:?

Even 3rd Party Insurance is a bit of a quagmire.
Realistically, what damage is a cyclist going to do to someone else's property? Few hundred quid on a door mirror or panel? Most people should be able to afford that without the need to drag insurance into it.

On the other hand, the cyclist will usually come off worse.
Few hundred quid on a set of STI or one carbon wheel? Your own 3rd Party Ins won't help with that.

Sadly, the people taking part in these surveys never think beyond the basic question. The question should actually say:
"Would you be in favour of number plates on bicycles given that it will cost tens of millions of £ to implement and manage, be thoroughly impractical and do nothing to alter the behaviour of drivers towards vulnerable road users?"

posted by crazy-legs [658 posts]
25th February 2013 - 10:25


I don't know about in Australia but in the UK, membership of a cycling organisation includes third party insurance. It's usually given away free which shows what a vanishingly small risk cyclists are to other road users.

posted by CotterPin [64 posts]
25th February 2013 - 10:59