Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has given weight to the idea of number plates for “professional commercial cyclists”, such as delivery cyclists, which was proposed by Fine Gael backbencher Emer Higgins.
The issue was raised in the Dáil by Higgins, a TD for the Dublin Mid-West constituency, on Wednesday.
The suggestion follows the far-right Italian transport Minister Matteo Salvini in June announcing a plan for number plates, indicators, insurance, helmets and speed limits for bicycles before backtracking in less than 48 hours because of the strength of the opposition to the plan. The main example of a general requirement to have registration and license plates for bicycles is North Korea.
But Deputy Higgins says her plan is only focused on cyclists working. She also issued a press release, which said: “Commercial cyclists should be required to wear identification numbers to improve safety standards on our public roads”.
She said the suggestion is part of doing “everything we can to ensure our roads become safer for all and that means making all users fully accountable.”
Higgins also mentions the increase in road deaths should be a reason for number plates, but the only recent mention in the Dail or the media of her raising issues relating to motorists are arguing against congestion charging, advocating for taxi drivers and “allowing drivers over the age of 70 to continue driving after an annual medical check, especially since drivers over 70 can continue to drive tour buses in the private sector.”
This week in the Dáil, Higgins said: “The Government is encouraging more and more people to use their bike and leave their cars at home. I believe that professional cyclists should be setting a good example to new and commuting cyclists by creating a safe road share culture. Yet many of us will be aware of incidents and near misses involving delivery cyclists who have broken red lights, who have face timed while they cycled or who have cycled the wrong way down a street.”
“I believe we should consider a form of visible identification such as a car or motorcycle number plate solely for professional delivery cyclists. This would encourage safer cycling and hold those who break the law to account. There is no denying that food delivery cyclists experience their own challenges in terms of theft and their own personal safety but no one should have to fear walking or driving down the streets because of reckless behaviour of any kind.”
She added: “Will the Government legislate for unique identifiers for professional cyclists? By professional cyclists, I mean those who display company branding and who spend their entire working day on our roads.”
Varadkar replied: “I appreciate the Deputy is being very clear that she is referring here to professional commercial cyclists and not everyday leisure or commuter cyclists. It is something that should be considered and I will speak to the Minister of State, Deputy Chambers, about this in the context of our road safety committee.”
He added: “I do not make a commitment either way but it is something to which we can give some consideration.”
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