Instant Improver

You could soon need a licence to cycle

It's the modern urban civil war of our times: motorists versus cyclists versus pedestrians, in a pitched battle for supremacy on the roads.

Attempts to bring peace to the streets could be coming in the form of licences for cyclists, similar to those already held by motorists. Plans are afoot in New South Wales in Australia to bring in the requirement, along with tougher penalties and fines for breaking the rules of the road.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay has said that he is "increasingly persuaded" by the idea of licensing, with Harold Scruby, the chairman of the Pedestrain Council adding, "We all agreed that registration is going to be difficult but perhaps anyone over the age of 18 should be required to carry some form of ID".

Given the concerns over cyclists' safety in the face of aggressive motorists - but also their own perceived flouting of many road regulations - this is a hotly-contested debate; a successful trial in Australia will almost certainly result in suggestions to implement it in the UK. So what are the main issues?

Accountability

At the moment, cycling is very anonymous, and this could help authorities keep on top of those who regularly flout the rules (particularly if bicycles themselves are also required to have a registration number), as well as making a new offence of cycling without a licence.

BUT: Police are already entitled to punish cyclists for transgressions: perhaps they should simply apply the rules more vigorously?

Effort

Making cyclists fill in forms and jump through hoops will reinforce the idea that cycling is a serious matter that shouldn't be taken lightly, hopefully meaning that it will keep idiots off the roads.

BUT: It could dissuade the occasional cyclist from bothering at all: not great news when cities are trying to reduce congestion and become greener.

Respect

Knowing that cyclists have had to apply for a licence like them may give drivers more respect for their cycling foes and make them more likely to treat them well.

BUT: You never read about a driver killed by a cyclist. Perhaps it's the drivers that need more education and more attention?

Standards

There's no doubt that the standard of cycling on the roads needs to improve.

BUT: perhaps a simple applied-for licence is not enough, maybe people should have to take a cycling test to get one?

Let us know your thoughts by voting below.