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Cycling licence 'debate' reignited by Channel 4 show and Scotland Tonight

Channel 4's Steph's Packed Lunch ran a poll asking viewers if cyclists should need licences to ride on main roads, while last week Scotland Tonight hosted a debate on the subject...

Despite the government, as recently as December, saying it has "no plans" to introduce legislation the so-called debate about cyclists needing compulsory training, a licence and insurance to use the roads has resurfaced in recent days, with several UK media outlets hosting TV segments or publishing news stories on the subject.

Scotland Tonight hosted an on-air debate last week, in which a motoring journalist and cyclist "go head-to-head on whether road cycling should be regulated". The segment was followed up by Aberdeen-based newspaper The Press and Journal asking: "Should cycling on main roads be banned until you have a licence?"

South of the border, CambridgeshireLive this morning ran a vox pop article asking readers whether cyclists should be required to have insurance, while approaching lunchtime, Channel 4 show Steph's Packed Lunch posted a Twitter poll asking viewers if "cycling on main roads should be banned until you have a licence?"

The poll, which currently has more than 60 per cent voting against cycling licences (at the time of writing) has received criticism, with one reply calling it "clickbait nonsense" and another "mad crankery".

Last week's Scotland Tonight debate appears to have reignited the media coverage of the topic.

"We need compulsory training and licences for cyclists. They are the only unregulated group of road users," motoring journalist Alan Douglas said during the Listen Up segment of Wednesday's current affairs programme.

"Anyone can leap on a bike and head out without any training, licence or insurance. If they commit a traffic offence, like jumping a red light or riding on the pavement, they go unpunished. A driver would be fined or lose their licence, so we need punishments for law-breaking cyclists," he added.

The debate aspect of the segment was provided by a cyclist Scotland Tonight described as a "keen rider", Diana Farrell, who argued most cyclists already hold a driving licence and are "very aware" of the Highway Code.

> Near 25% increase in video submissions since Highway Code changes

"I'm not convinced that a licence would ensure people are safe on the roads," she told the programme. "Every driver on the roads has a licence, not all of them are safe. There's always going to be a minority within any form of transport, whether that's cycling or roads, that are not responsible, that are not following the rules.

"Those people are fully aware of what the rules are. The fact that you need a licence to drive a motor vehicle is more reflecting the damage you can do with a motor vehicle."

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The Scotland Tonight segment was repackaged by The Press and Journal who asked its readership: "What do you think? Are cyclists a pain in the gearstick? Are motorist (sic) just not getting it that cyclists are the priority on the road?"

Local news website CambridgeshireLive's insurance-based vox pops asked readers to share their thoughts on the question of cyclists needing insurance.

The Cambridge news website, part of the Daily Express, Daily Star and Mirror publisher Reach PLC's regional news portfolio, said: "Calls have been made previously for cyclists to pay road tax and insurance", but included a marginally more cycling-positive headline than those seen above, featuring the reader quote: "We need less cars and more incentives".

"A large proportion of our readers agreed cyclists should be required to have insurance," the piece stated, before hearing from one reader whose car "was scratched badly" by a cyclist, and now wants: "Insurance and an identification plate on bikes like motorcycles."

Last December, solicitor Nick Freeman, known as 'Mr Loophole' for his securing acquittals of drivers accused of motoring offences — often on a technicality — had his petition asking for cyclists to wear identification and have licences, shot down by the government who said it has "no plans" to follow up on the suggestion.

> Mr Loophole's cyclist ID petition "gathers momentum" says BBC – except it closed last week

The petition was promoted by the Manchester-based lawyer during numerous appearances in local and national print and broadcast media, but yet only scraped over the 10,000-signature threshold required for a government response with less than a day to go.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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