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Kate Hoey calls for bikes to be registered and cyclists to pay "road tax"

Labour politician says she'd like to see more people cycling... but she has a funny way of encouraging them...

Labour MP Kate Hoey says she would like to see more people cycling and supports segregated bike lanes – but she also says that bicycles should be registered and that riders should pay road tax and carry insurance.

The MP for Vauxhall, in the news last month after being fined £240 after being caught driving her Mini through a red traffic light, was speaking to Peter Walker of the Guardian's Bike Blog.

The fine imposed on Hoey provoked widespread derision not to mention schadenfreude among cyclists, whom she had branded in a 2003 Daily Mail article as  “law-breaking Lycra louts.”

Hoey told Walker that with the benefit of hindsight, that article had appeared more extreme than she’d intended, and revealed that she backed Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s intention to introduce more cycle lanes in the capital – although it could be argued that her prime motivation for that appears to be to clear the roads for cars.

“I would love to see cycling separated, because I think it would help everybody,” she explained. “If it means more people cycling, great, especially if it makes it easier for me on the road. You're never going to get it everywhere, but it's going to have to happen because there's so many more people cycling.”

“But,” she added, “if we're going to do that don't you think they should have to pay something, as a road tax? Why should I pay a hundred and whatever pounds for my little Mini and they don't?”

Walker explained to her the difference between “road tax,” abolished in the 1930s, and Vehicle Excise Duty, and said she did subsequently email him to say: “By the way I do know that VED is based on size etc of car but the principle is that surely everyone using the road should be licenced and insured.”

Hoey, elected to Parliament in the safe Labour seat of Vauxhall in 1989, also called for bicycles to be fitted with number plates, saying: “What I do genuinely think, and the cycling lobby should argue for it too, is that everyone who rides a bicycle, particularly as a form of transport to work, should be registered, so their bike has a registration number.

“At the moment if someone does knock down an old lady and ride off no one can trace that person.”

While perceived cyclist and pedestrian conflict is a regular hobby-horse for some national and local media outlets and an issue often raised with the police by local residents, thankfully reported injuries are relatively rare.

Last year, according to the Department for Transport’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain Annual Report 2012, there were 389 reported incidents in which a pedestrian was injured in a collision with a bicycle, of which 97 were serious and two fatal.

By comparison, 212 pedestrians were killed and 3,907 seriously injured following collisions with private cars alone.

As for registration, opponents point out that the bureaucracy – and presumably expense – involved would make such a scheme unworkable and deter people from cycling.

Hoey acknowledged, “I can see why cyclists feel they have to stand up against people,” adding, “but I never see cyclists criticising themselves. Cyclists don't seem to see to do anything about.”

It’s unclear whether Hoey is advocating some form of self-policing, but certainly cycling organisations such as CTC reinforce that cyclists must obey applicable laws, and a road.cc poll in February 2010 found that among site users, it was law-breaking that annoyed them most about other riders’ behaviour.

Walker pointed out to Hoey that speeding or driving through red lights – as she herself did – was common among motorists, and that the potential consequences were much more serious than in the case of a bicycle.

She countered his argument, saying: “But that is a sort of cop out, isn' it? It's like me saying, I'm only driving this little old Mini, why can't just slip through a light as well if there's nothing coming?”

Towards the end of his article, Walker gives his impression of the MP, reflecting that “I don’t think Hoey has any genuine malice towards cyclists, and in many ways she means well. But she has, to my mind, some curious notions” – not least, given she represents a constituency with low levels of car ownership and higher than average levels of cycling, she should be advocating measures that might deter the latter.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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94 comments

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kcr | 10 years ago
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She does have a small point, a hell of a lot more cyclist jump red lights than cars (at least on my London commute) in 5 years I've only seen about 2 or 3 clear incidents of cars running reds, whereas I see at least 5 fellow cyclists run them every single day, so I can see why it's brought up in every single debate on road safety.

I used to commute on a route where I could watch at least 1 motorist drive through a clear red while I was waiting at the lights, every day (A71 Calder Junction roundabout in Edinburgh, for anyone who knows the road).
The Scottish Governments 2011 accident stats show that 95% of the accidents resulting from road users ignoring traffic signals are the responsibility of motorists.
Of course some cyclists jump red lights, but lets stop repeating the lie that cyclists are the main problem here. More motorist jump reds, and they cause more accidents. That's a fact.

Kate Hoey - what a disgrace you are, especially as a former Sports Minister.

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tommy2p | 10 years ago
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Do drivers subconciously reguard red light jumpers as insignificant road users? Do drivers look at a cyclists jumping a red light, and think to themselves, the cyclist isn't important enough to stop at the red light, so I don't have to pay any attention to them either? And subsequently reguard them as minor and insignificant? Or does it annoy the drivers waiting at the lights? Are cyclists doing themselves a disservice by jumping red lights?
I realise this makes me sound holier than thou. I am not.

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PhilRuss | 10 years ago
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[[[[ I wonder...does K.Hooey ever complain--publicly--about dangerous drivers? If not, I think she'd better explain why not!
P.R.

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stealth | 10 years ago
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Would I need to get a licence & insurance for all of my bikes? Apply for a SORN for my MTB that only gets used on the road for a couple of snowy/slushy weeks in winter? Would the licence plate need to be big enough for the 'drink-driving, speeding, mobile-phoning motorist' (they ALL do that, don't they??) can contact the police to tell them that I am not in the cycle lane/gutter, where I belong??

Insurance IS a very good idea.

RLJ's really are nob-ends.

As are adult path-riders.

Would a licence plate count as a fairing on my TT bike??

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JeevesBath | 10 years ago
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Makes perfect sense, I mean licensing and taxing cars has completely eradicated road traffic collisions hasn't it?  41

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zagatosam | 10 years ago
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Let's slap a VED on running shoes and kid's trikes too Ms Hoey. What about your everyday pedestrian who spits their gum on the tarmac or chucks a fag butt on the floor? Who pays to clean up that polluting mess?? Total baloney.

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evo111 | 10 years ago
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In addition to the comments made before, cycling at least for me represents somewhat of a purest way of getting about, not unlike walking or running. Taxing folks for getting about under their own steam seems fundamentally wrong.

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CJSTEVENS1955 | 10 years ago
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Taking away the fact that she is a polititian...there is half logic to this. But again that logic is buearocracy at it's best. What kids are going to ride bikes with such expenses. Are police going to pursue cyclists...sounds like a cartoon. Lets road tax shoes because they go on roads as well. Lets make OAP's self insure to walk to the shops...clown

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Skylark | 10 years ago
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Kinda hoey!

The suggestion in the article is to jam yet more laws into machine with extremely meagre understanding of the fundamentals.

Cities are perfect for cycling, but not cars. So do something about the problem of cars.

London has a traffic problem. Almost all other UK places simply follow suit.

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K Stand Ken | 10 years ago
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I hate red light jumpers with a passion, they deserve everything they get when something bigger and travelling much faster hits them.
But your average motorist thinks that every cyclist jumps red lights on every conceivable occasion and Ms Hoey is only adding fuel to that fire.
On the one occasion I did not stop at a red light. I spent the next fifteen weeks in hospital and my bike was wrecked.

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Hoester | 10 years ago
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I would respect politicians a lot more if once in a while they said; 'you know what, I'm not sure, let me go away and think about it'.

The people don't demand immediate answers in easy-to-air soundbites, the media does. What the people demand is sensible considered arguments and proposals that have been thought through.

When the BS button is hit just to fill silence with words, all this does is add to the general sense of political disillusionment many people have had for a long while.

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alun replied to bikewithnoname | 10 years ago
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bikewithnoname wrote:

She does have a small point, a hell of a lot more cyclist jump red lights than cars (at least on my London commute) in 5 years I've only seen about 2 or 3 clear incidents of cars running reds, whereas I see at least 5 fellow cyclists run them every single day, so I can see why it's brought up in every single debate on road safety.

There you go Hoey, a cyclist criticising other cyclists.

You've only seen 2 or 3 in 5 years? That's about 1 every 2 years. Pull the other one, I've seen 3 today!

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allez neg replied to turboprannet | 10 years ago
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So, she'd be wrong to expect a christmas card from you then?  4

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pauldmorgan replied to allez neg | 10 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Ok, its crap for the pedestrians if they got hit, but its a bugger to lose momentum at each traffic light, and surely every cyclist makes a judgement call on running each red or dark amber light, knowing he's the one that's going to come off worse if his judgement is out.

What claptrap. The law is the law. What makes you or anyone else think they're above it? Rights come with responsibilities.

And using 'loss of momentum' as an excuse for RLJ'ing is pathetic: stopping and starting makes you fitter. Rule V applies.

"Aw, it was crap for that child I hit and killed, but hey, I didn't want to waste any energy".

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Grizzerly replied to onlyonediane | 10 years ago
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You voted for HER?

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farrell replied to PhilRuss | 10 years ago
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PhilRuss wrote:

[[[[ I wonder...does K.Hooey ever complain--publicly--about dangerous drivers? If not, I think she'd better explain why not!
P.R.

You mean like this one?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-P59iZo7I0yE/TilhF-m9c9I/AAAAAAAAA0k/F8MKK1C2Gk...

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drfabulous0 replied to pauldmorgan | 10 years ago
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Really? So you're riding home late at night, the road is empty and the only person around is a pedestrian who has pressed the button on the crossing but has already crossed to the opposite side, are you really going to stop for the red light? Does it give you some kind of smug sanctimonious glow to do so? Trackstanding in the rain thinking you look cool?

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pauldmorgan replied to drfabulous0 | 10 years ago
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drfabulous0, you don't describe the pedestrian in enough detail for me to decide whether posing would be worthwhile, however it is hard to look cool when wet so I'd probably not bother embarrassing myself.

My experience of the kind of Shoreditch-tw*t rider you describe is that they're the most likely to bang through a red light whilst I'm crossing the road with my children on the way to school. That kind of thing makes me angry and I don't want to be a hypocrite: I don't think that's sanctimonious but you're welcome to your opinion.

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tommy2p replied to drfabulous0 | 10 years ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

Really? So you're riding home late at night, the road is empty and the only person around is a pedestrian who has pressed the button on the crossing but has already crossed to the opposite side, are you really going to stop for the red light? Does it give you some kind of smug sanctimonious glow to do so? Trackstanding in the rain thinking you look cool?

If there's a red light , I stop for it, wether I'm driving my car, or riding my bike. Even if it's three in the morning and nobody around. It pisses me off when someone jumps a red light. Usually when it's a car jumping a red, they speed up as the lights change. When it's a cyclist, they just go through, whilst all the motorists at the lights are witnessing it. I had an incident when I shouted at a red jumping cyclist, where when the lights changed, the driver to my left tried to cut a 45" angle in front of me to try to knock me off. All because he was pissed off with the red light jumper. I wonder if that's why we have an "us and them" situation on the roads? It pisses me off when someone else makes me look like a c#@#@ to other road users, and assume that I routinely jump red lights. I have had some very close calls with people jumping red lights. Once when I was almost hit in the side at about 25mph by a red light jumper, and twice in the same day, I was on a crossing pushing my child in a buggy, when we were nearly hit by a red light jumper. don't go through red lights, they're there for safety reasons and traffic flow. If we all stop ata red lights, everyone will be happy, no more us and them.  1

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Dr Livingstone replied to drfabulous0 | 10 years ago
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obey the law dipsh*t! do you think anybody likes stopping for "unneccesary" red lights? You just make us cyclists look bad and then there's another annoyed car driver out there to cut us up/give us less room and generally think we're tw*ts  37  14

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to drfabulous0 | 10 years ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

Really? So you're riding home late at night, the road is empty and the only person around is a pedestrian who has pressed the button on the crossing but has already crossed to the opposite side, are you really going to stop for the red light? Does it give you some kind of smug sanctimonious glow to do so? Trackstanding in the rain thinking you look cool?

I stop in that situation out of fear that somewhere a petrolhead is lurking and secretly watching, ready to rush home (jumping reds on the way) and post a whinge about red-light-jumping-cyclists!

Actually, usually there isn't even the pedestrian there (pedestrian-controlled lights actually tend to change back to flashing amber very quickly - its those bloody sensor-controlled junction lights which are the ones that leave you sitting there like an idiot for no purpose).

Though then I tend to dismount and run across the junction, just to avoid giving ammunition to petrolheads. We all know the rules of the road _only_ apply to cyclists - motorists get a special exemption.

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mikeprytherch | 10 years ago
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This women is a complete and utter idiot and should not be an MP... but there is one point I would like to make about this red light business and people on this site using it against her.

I doubt very much she left the house that morning with the intension to run the red light, however there is certainly a percentage of cyclists who do leave their houses in the morning with the intension of doing so.

I am NOT defending her running the red light at all and in my view anybody who does should get an automatic ban, its highly dangerous, and yes as a cyclist we make mistakes from time to time as we are human, but cyclist who run the lights know they are going to do it and they are giving us all a bad name and idiots like this use that argument against us all the time.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to mikeprytherch | 10 years ago
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mikeprytherch wrote:

I doubt very much she left the house that morning with the intension to run the red light, however there is certainly a percentage of cyclists who do leave their houses in the morning with the intension of doing so.

This is a distinction without a difference. A large number of motorists run red lights as as matter of routine (just as they routinely enter ASLs on red or park illegally).

Who cares what conscious thought is in their heads when they 'leave their house'? Why is that important?

You seem to be saying that if you want to break the law, just make sure you don't consciously think about it - just turn it into an unconscious habit and you will be absolved!

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Leodis | 10 years ago
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Carbon reg plate anyone?

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james-o | 10 years ago
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"....so their bike has a registration number.

At the moment if someone does knock down an old lady and ride off no one can trace that person.”

She's not thought this through has she?
How big a number plate do you think you'll get on a bike? They can't trace hit-and-runners in cars most of the time. I'm not really against compulsory road insurance for all but registering bikes, ..good luck.. how many riders have 3, 4 or more? Register the user, maybe. I doubt it will happen though, it would never raise enough to cover implementation.

“But that is a sort of cop out, isn' it? It's like me saying, I'm only driving this little old Mini, why can't just slip through a light as well if there's nothing coming?”
'Saying nothing'

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johndonnelly replied to james-o | 10 years ago
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james-o wrote:

"How big a number plate do you think you'll get on a bike? "

I heard about an old boy in Norwich who used to cycle round with a rake mounted sideways on his rack. Whenever someone scratched their car on it he'd say "I'm sorry you didn't see me mate".

Sounds ideal and there's a lot of bikes so we're going to need quite long reg numbers to justify this.

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Guyz2010 | 10 years ago
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She's making a real twat of herself. Sell you polluting mini Mrs Hoey and jump on a bike or maybe sell it for an Audi A1 diesel which has a road fund value of.....wait for it ....Zero pounds.
What a dumpling. Now go again to Starbucks for yet another tax free portion of HUMBLE PIE....then resign and do all your voters a favour.

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badback | 10 years ago
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She is living proof that any idiot can get elected to parliament.

Do people come out with this rubbish just to get a few column inches to improve there chances of getting on a reality TV show. She's definitely not doing it to further her Party's cause.

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kie7077 | 10 years ago
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Stupid cow.

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bendertherobot | 10 years ago
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I am ABSOLUTELY happy to participate in the VED regime. I am similary happy to turn up at the testing centre in order that they may measure my CO2 emissions. Equally I would co-operate with any tester if they'd like to do this in real world conditions, even climbing the Bwlch if they need to.

I'm then happy to pay my share in comparison to a similar vehicle.

I'm happy for this system to be setup.

But, most of all, I'm happy to attend the Parliamentary investigation into why a system costing millions of pounds to administer has no income whatsoever.

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