Less than 48 hours after the Italian transport Minister Matteo Salvini announced number plates, indicators, insurance, helmets and speed limits for bicycles, he has backtracked on his proposals.
Libero Quotidiano, an Italian newspaper published in Milan, today quotes Minister Salvini as stating: “The plates, indicators, insurance, helmet and speed limits, are for scooters, not for bicycles”.
Today, Libero Quotidiano newspaper reported: “Another page of the conversation is the one relating to the new highway code. Also, in this case, someone has created confusion. Here then is Salvini trying to restore order: ‘The plates, indicators, insurance, helmet and speed limits, are for scooters, not for bicycles’. Another point to be clarified is that the new code will not be approved with a government decree, but with a bill that will be discussed by the Parliament.”
The backtracking mirrors a similar backpedalling by then UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last year after he also faced a backlash for such a “crazy” idea. Before that backpedalling, a Guardian headline quipped “North Korea – a model for Grant Shapps’ bicycle licence plate proposal?”
The populist Italian Government will not follow the North Korean dictatorship. The only democracy in recent history which had bicycle number plates or mandatory insurance is Switzerland but it moved to stickers in the 1980s and abandoned the scheme altogether in 2011. Other countries ruled out the idea as being more hassle than its worth.
Italian cycling website Bikeitalia.it today reported that the populist Minister Salvini is backtracking while trying to save face. The website also reports that the comments from Salvini have stirred up anti-cycling sentiment.
The Italian cycling website said: “The fact remains that the words spoken by Minister Salvini at question time in the Chamber and the reference to the new obligations also for bicycles have further polarized the debate and many comments on social media have unexpectedly lashed out against ‘cyclists’ arguing that the obligation to helmet, license plate, insurance and indicators for bicycles were a necessary measure to make the streets safer. Even here on Bikeitalia the first article with the news continues to receive dozens of comments.”
Two days ago Bikeitalia.it also reported on Salvini’s original comments and outlined how had previously tweeted against bicycle regulation using the hashtag #labicinonsitocca when a left-wing party has suggested number plates for bicycles.
In December 2015, Salvini tweeted: “Meanwhile, a PD senator has proposed to put a license plate, and to charge the stamp duty, even to BIKE owners. Crazy! #labicinonsitocca.”
Salvini has also said that cycle lanes in his home city of Milan are “radical chic environmentalism”.
There has been a strong backlash in the last 48 hours against the proposal. ANCMA, an Italian bicycle industry body, saidthat the plan would have damaged the industry and tourism in the country, and that it seemed to be more about getting cyclists off the road than anything regarding safety.
You're read this much of the article... if you value our journalism, please subscribe today.