In a surprising turn of events, and one that may seem extreme, the UK is proposing regulation requiring cyclists have licence plates, follow posted speed limits and fining cyclists for not following these regulations. In a country like the UK, a policy such as this seems more realistic than what it does here, but what if South Africa implemented the same rules? Particularly, as travelling on bicycles is commonplace.
The proposal was made when the transport secretary noted cyclists are notorious for flouting road laws. Additionally, he believes the regulation will impress on cyclists the harm they can cause with a lack of care. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, notes: “The debate over who is reckless between motorists and cyclists is quite a contentious issue in South Africa. Thus, is there necessity to apply the same regulations to cyclists as what is applied to motorists?
“The challenges motorists and cyclists face in the UK are not uncommon here. Yet, in a country where road regulation is not properly enforced on motorists, is there merit in developing further regulation for cyclists when enforcement may not necessarily be possible.”
The UK’s transport secretary further explains his desire to enforce this regulation with valid points. “He pointed out there are two instances, in particular, where cyclists pose a great challenge to other road users. The first is speeding in areas with low-speed limits and the second is the disregard of stop signs and traffic lights.”
The motivation behind his proposal is that reckless cyclists have as much potential to seriously injure or even kill pedestrians as what motorists do. “Yet, in order to make this a reality this would require cyclists to then have number plates and also have insurance to cover liability claims.
“Should the same apply to South African cyclists? Ultimately, any dangerous behaviour on the roads, whether it be by a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist or motorist, must be dealt with swiftly and decisively to make a considerable dent in our high road fatality rates. Consequently, such regulation could be necessary.”
Yet, if road regulation enforcement on motorists is not quite at the standard it should be, should we be adding additional regulation? “This is a valid and important discussion that all South Africans committed to safer roads should start considering. It, however, should be done with a cognisance that South Africa is vastly different to the UK in terms of road regulation and fatalities and what may work there may not necessarily work here.
“An example is that many cyclists commute to work on bikes because they cannot afford the expense of a vehicle and fuel. Placing extra financial burdens on cyclists, is a major hurdle that needs serious consideration. Essentially, the transport secretary in the UK identified a valid and important obstacle to road safety worldwide, yet, how feasible is it, particularly in a country like South Africa?” asks Herbert.