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House of Lords debate on cyclist safety quickly descends into a discussion of perceived transgressions

Norman Tebbit is perhaps best well known for his (slightly apocryphal) message to the unemployed back in the early 1980s: "get on your bike and look for work". He doesn't seem so keen on bikes these days though, suggesting that cyclists 'habitually' break the law by giving false details when pulled up for traffic offences, and recommending that they be compelled to carry identification.

The exchange is part of a discussion on the saftey of cyclists (that's what it was supposed to be about, anyway) in the House of Lords yesterday. The full debate is shown in the video below; the section on cycling starts 23 minutes in.

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It takes the Lords less than three minutes to get off the topic of making cyclists safer to blaming them for the incidents they're involved in, and then accusing them of flouting road laws; that's not counting a short foray into the legality or otherwise of headphones. Baroness Sharples is first to wander: "Would my noble friend agree that cyclists should wear some form of identification? I was nearly knocked over outside Millbank," she says, leading us to wonder what her recourse would have been if the incident had involved a car; going to the police with the registration number of a vehicle that 'nearly knocked you over' would get short shrift, in our opinion.

Earl Atlee responds sensibly, pointing out that there are times when it would be helpful if pedestrians carried ID but they're not required to do so. The debate then moves on to children's helmets (very advisable but not to be mandated, in Earl Atlee's opinion) while Lord Winston suggests that the health beneifts of cycling might be offset by air pollution, missing the point that the drivers – who are causing the pollution – are also breathing it.

Lord Taverne is next to speak up, in favour of Dutch-style infrastructure, while Baroness Butler-Sloss wonders what can be done about cyclists "with ear things otherwise filled with music, turning right across the traffic when the light is red against them."

Lord Davies of Oldham attempts to get the debate back on track by highlighting the Times' Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, before Lord Tebbit weighs in. "My Lords, how many cyclists actually pay the fixed-penalty tickets which are issued to them for offences such as riding on the pavement to the danger of pedestrians?" he asks. "My noble friend may know that they habitually give false names and addresses; there is no way for the police officer issuing the penalty notice to know that. What are we going to do? Are we going to compel cyclists to have some form of identification so that, if issued with a penalty ticket, they are required to pay it instead of just scoffing at the law?"

Quite where Lord Tebbit has received this information that cyclists 'habitually' give false information – and of course, we're not suggesting it's simply based on his own pejudices – is unclear. The CTC were quick to rebuff him via twitter: "Ld Tebbit demands ID for cyclists who "habitually" give false names to avoid fines. Where's his evidence? Police have NEVER said this to us," they tweeted. Certainly it's not a habitual problem we're aware of, and it hasn't stopped the police from targeting cyclists in a succession of 'crackdowns', usually to do with lights or pavement cycling.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

47 comments

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Collett73 [14 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh my god, I'm shocked and appalled at this discussion even taking place.
Why are they even discussing this when they clearly don't have a clue what they are talking about.
I'm not knocking their ignorance about all things concerning cycling (they can't be expected to be experts in every field) , I'm knocking them for their arrogance of trying to 'fix' the problem using their own (clearly prejudiced) narrow viewpoint. Where are the experts?

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ribena [179 posts] 2 years ago
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If police aren't satisfied that you can prove who you are, you're arrested.

This applies to anyone, cyclists or otherwise.

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JonnieC [12 posts] 2 years ago
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I thought Tebbit was dead. At least I now know his arguments are!

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Mat Brett [613 posts] 2 years ago
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JonnieC wrote:

I thought Tebbit was dead.

I don't think this is a bar to being a member of the House of Lords.

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 2 years ago
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So let's legislate on the back of one person's random experience on Millbank. What could possibly go wrong?

Why not apply the same argument requiring ID to pedestrians: many times people bump into each other because they're in a hurry/don't care/aren't paying attention. Drivers don't have to carry ID either. Admittedly there are number plates on cars but what if it's illegible or false or the person is driving a stolen car?

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jollygoodvelo [1396 posts] 2 years ago
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ribena wrote:

If police aren't satisfied that you can prove who you are, you're arrested.

This applies to anyone, cyclists or otherwise.

Agreed.

Pretty shameful Daily-Mail-level behaviour from the Lords but then what do you expect. Actually I do expect more, from Lord Winston especially, he's a scientist!

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thelimopit [139 posts] 2 years ago
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At least, as you said, Earl Attlee has the right answers to deflect the inane questions. It gives one a little hope.

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Bez [588 posts] 2 years ago
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But we all know Normo Tebbs is as mentally sound as a sea cucumber on crack, yes? He's argued against gay marriage on the grounds that he could marry his own son as a tax break. I'm sure he'd willingly stand up and argue that cupcakes should legally only be sold in green boxes marked "God Save The Lesbian Queen" if that's what the voices inside his cobweb-infested head told him to do.

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ScotchPoth (not verified) [368 posts] 2 years ago
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Baronesses? Lords? oh FUCK OFF,THE ruling classes singling out the peasnts day in day out in this shit country
I despise the accident of birth scumbags interfering in our lives,when was the last time a cyclist maimed or killed anybody?
Like the Qat plant that wretch Theresa May banned yesterday they ignore expert advice on the supposed dangers to health and impose their own filthy prejudice anyway
They should start by banning motor vehicles in city centres for a start
whatever law they arbitrarily impose with their filthy prejudice and dogma i will go out of my way to oppose
The lies these cretins manufactured to back up their dirty little prejudices is beneath contempt
Robert Catsby had the right idea about these cretins 400 years ago,the world would be a better place if the scum were eradicated and then we could get on with our lives without their dirty privileged meddling,shame the IRA didnt succeed with the old Nazi bastard in 1984

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Ghedebrav [1100 posts] 2 years ago
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What worries me here is that 'cyclists' are still seen as some kind of monolithic tribe in a way that motorists or pedestrians are not. A shame, as the standard of debate in the Lords is generally more considered and grown-up than the Commons, but not in this case

I routinely 'nearly get hit' by cars where drivers are not paying attention (maybe because their car is 'filled with music'?!) or driving agressively, but to hold responsible every single person who sits behind a steering wheel (including myself) is self-evidently nonsense.

As for Tebbit, I don't think anyone takes him seriously. Regardless of your politics, he's a nasty piece of work.

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TeamCC [146 posts] 2 years ago
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What about those menacing kids and adults on push scooters? Skateboarders have four wheels, they should carry two forms of ID! Capital Cycles

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swelbo [33 posts] 2 years ago
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Habitually!!

Is this for real?? He should be given a ticket for lying in a position of influence.

Sounds to me like he has had an incident with a cyclist and now he has made up some cock-and-bull story to satisfy his own annoyance. The fact that these people are allowed to address such an issue is both dangerous and damaging.

Sit down.

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thereverent [398 posts] 2 years ago
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If you are stopped on your bike by the Police it's likely you to be an offence dealt with by a fixed penalty fine.
However giving false details to the police is far more serious.
I doubt there are many people who would risk this to avoid a fine.

Odd that Lord Tebbit voted against ID cards a few years back but now would seem to be in favour. If you don't have a passport or driving licence I'm not sure what he would want you to carry.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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I take it Lord Sugar wasn't there to chip in?

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thelimopit [139 posts] 2 years ago
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It's also notable that most of the people who are complaining about cyclists appear to be over the age of 125.

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Joselito [160 posts] 2 years ago
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Heaven help us all.

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brackley88 [141 posts] 2 years ago
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Easy now...breathe, breathe...extreme attitudes suppporting violence against those with different opinions is likely to hinder the cause of cycling. Don't agree with Mr Tebbit on this(who is a life peer not a hereditary peer, and came from a working class background in Ponders End, Middlesex - so no accident of birth).

But, perhaps just a tad harsh to wish him dead...especially as he had to care for his wife until her early death, as a result of her paralysis caused by the bombing.

We are all destined to become slightly ranty old people who younger people will not agree with...

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JonD [395 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh the irony...perhaps we all need to carry ID so some stupid old gits making a nuisance of themselves can be readily identified:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1253066/Norman-Tebbit-attacks-ch...

(Apologies for Daily Mail content, first link to hand...)

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JeevesBath [167 posts] 2 years ago
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I find it hard to imagine any normal person going out without some form of ID, these days (credit card, tesco club card etc etc).
Perhaps Mr Tebbit and his Right Honourable colleagues are referring to the "hooded yoofs" who carry out various "anti-social" misdemeaners in our town centres and estates, while also happening to be (coincidentally) on a bike? Hardly your typical commuting class...
 39

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billyman [148 posts] 2 years ago
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you will be required to carry ID and you have to have one issued by the government which we'll only cost you £100 per year... expect to hear that next lol

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djpalmer32 [77 posts] 2 years ago
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Following on that theory of cyclists carrying ID means that mobility scooter users should be made to carry id as they can be a menace. What about all other non-licenced road users such as horse riders!

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Bikebikebike [204 posts] 2 years ago
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On a par with his comments on gay marriage. I think there should be a new Britishness test. If you think that Lord Tebbit is an aris, then you are probably British.

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Bikebikebike [204 posts] 2 years ago
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The minister appears to actually be reasonably well-informed, and able to talk sense. Bit mealy-mouthed on the Times campaign targets, but otherwise better than I was expecting.

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cidermart [488 posts] 2 years ago
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'Ribena' got it right further up. Car drivers are not required by law to carry any form of identification so why should we? Please don’t say a number plate is because that relies on the owner giving the right details for their address and that doesn’t always happen. Personally I do carry identification so they know who to contact if I get hospitalised or killed by some f**kwitted driver.

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solkanofastera [24 posts] 2 years ago
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Look it is just a place to park the loony fringe of ones political friends, don't expect brilliant debate, give them a break they are doing the best that they can with the few brain cells political life has left them.

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Cycle_Jim [264 posts] 2 years ago
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If you give your name and address they do a voters check to confirm that your of the residency you say you are...

That said if you (god-forbid) got injured it isn't all that bad an idea to have id on you as a just in case!

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michophull [131 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd just like to say it was Tebbit who inspired me to take up cycling when I was an unemployed young man in north-west England in the 1980s.

However, I used my bike to go in the opposite direction of any available work. I would encourage the young of today to compost their CVs and do the same.

Cheers Norman.  3

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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Ghedebrav wrote:

the standard of debate in the Lords is generally more considered and grown-up than the Commons, but not in this case

Sure about that? The Lords is the same place where the "if you clear snow, you are risking being sued" anti-social myth seems to have started. The noble friends should be required to state their sources.

Ghedebrav wrote:

I routinely 'nearly get hit' by cars where drivers are not paying attention (maybe because their car is 'filled with music'?!) or driving agressively, but to hold responsible every single person who sits behind a steering wheel (including myself) is self-evidently nonsense.

Yeah, tribalism won't help anything here.

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theclaw [73 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
ScotchPoth wrote:

Baronesses? Lords? oh FUCK OFF,THE ruling classes singling out the peasnts day in day out in this shit country
I despise the accident of birth scumbags interfering in our lives,when was the last time a cyclist maimed or killed anybody?
Like the Qat plant that wretch Theresa May banned yesterday they ignore expert advice on the supposed dangers to health and impose their own filthy prejudice anyway
They should start by banning motor vehicles in city centres for a start
whatever law they arbitrarily impose with their filthy prejudice and dogma i will go out of my way to oppose
The lies these cretins manufactured to back up their dirty little prejudices is beneath contempt
Robert Catsby had the right idea about these cretins 400 years ago,the world would be a better place if the scum were eradicated and then we could get on with our lives without their dirty privileged meddling,shame the IRA didnt succeed with the old Nazi bastard in 1984

Wonderful rant, my afternoon has perked up no end since reading this  1 Bang on the money.

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Gkam84 [9084 posts] 2 years ago
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Are these feckers that daft. Going on and on about headphones.

Think about this for a moment. I have twin cousin's who are TOTALLY deaf....they cycle around and have never had a problem.

As for the ID issue. I normally always have some for of ID on my when cycling, even if its just a bank card with my name on it, its not always photo ID, but something where if I was involved in an accident, then it could be worked out who I was in hospital or wherever. NOT to enable the police to stop and fine me

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