Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Cyclists blast Italian government’s “extremely worrying” plans to introduce bike registration plates and insurance

But manufacturers say the reforms, which also include making helmets and bike indicators mandatory, are “more about stopping the spread of bicycles than increasing safety on the roads”

Less than a year since the UK’s then-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pledged to bring in registration plates for cyclists, before almost immediately backtracking on his comments, his Italian equivalent has introduced a controversial road safety bill which would force cyclists to carry number plates on their bikes, pay insurance, and make helmets and indicators mandatory.

> Italy’s Deputy PM Salvini backpedals on number plates for cyclists

In a speech to the Italian parliament on Wednesday, transport minister Matteo Salvini outlined his plans to increase road safety in the country through legislation which he says will guarantee “more rules, more education, and more safety on Italian roads”.

Salvini, who leads the Lega party, which forms part of the right-wing coalition led by prime minister Giorgia Meloni, said that under the plans cyclists will be forced to wear helmets and carry licence plates and indicators on their bikes, while also paying insurance.

The bill also includes the introduction of lifetime bans for motorists found to be driving under the influence of drugs, the Times reports.

> Confusion as Grant Shapps now says he is "not attracted to bureaucracy" of number plates for cyclists

However, Salvini’s focus on cyclists, 154 of whom were killed in collisions with motorists on Italian roads last year, has been heavily criticised by campaigners and members of the bike industry.

The Lega leader has long been a critic of moves to introduce more safe cycling infrastructure, describing bike lanes in his home city Milan as “radical chic environmentalism” and a threat to businesses.

In September he told the Italian senate that many cycle lanes were being installed in “highly dangerous areas” with lots of traffic, thus “creating difficulty for cyclists, car drivers and the local police”.

Since Salvini was appointed transport minister following the election of Meloni’s government last year, significant budget cuts have led to funding being withdrawn from new bike lane projects.

And cycling campaigners reckon that this latest bill is yet another attempt by the transport minister to curb cycling in Italy.

> "Not at all surprised": Cyclists react to research showing riders wearing helmets and high-visibility clothing seen as "less human"

The bicycle manufacturers association, the ANCMA, which notes that the cycle industry in Italy generates an annual turnover of €3.2 billion, said in a statement that the proposed reforms – which would be a first for Europe – are “extremely worrying” in a country which instead requires a “structural and educational commitment” to ensure the safety of its most vulnerable road users.

“This reform seems to be more about stopping the spread of bicycles than increasing safety on the roads,” the association said.

Meanwhile, the online cycling journal Bikeitalia also claimed that the legislation would simply have the effect of discouraging people to ride bikes, and challenged Salvini to “name one country in the world which obliges the use of helmet, number plate, insurance, and indicators for bikes: certainly in no country that promotes the bicycle as a means of transport”.

Bikeitalia also noted the minister’s apparent hypocrisy by highlighting how his mantra of “we won’t put our hands in the pockets of Italians” – which has led him to cutting excise duties on petrol and opposing speed cameras – doesn’t appear to stretch to cyclists.

And all that despite, as the website pointed out, Salvini himself dismissing a left-wing politician’s plan to introduce bike registration plates in 2015 as “crazy” on Twitter.

> “No plans to introduce registration plates” for cyclists, insists Grant Shapps

The Italian government’s plans to enforce tougher rules for cyclists comes less than a year after the UK’s then-transport secretary Grant Shapps caused a great deal of confusion after the Daily Mail reported that the Conservative cabinet minister had promised to introduce number plates for cyclists, a pledge that was almost immediately contradicted in a separate interview with the Times.

The Mail’s initial report, which claimed that Shapps said that cyclists should be insured, carry licence plates on their bikes, and be subject to the same speed limits as motorists, prompted something of a media frenzy, forcing the minister to backtrack on his comments.

In an interview three days later with LBC, Shapps insisted that there were “no plans to introduce registration plates” for bikes and that he was simply making a “wider point” that “it's got to be right to ensure that everybody who uses our roads does so responsibly”.

“What I was actually talking about at the time was cyclists who perhaps bust through red lights, we see that an awful lot,” he said.

“There is no way to prosecute a [cyclist] who might run into somebody else, and sometimes you get these very sad cases of death by dangerous cycling, and we are proposing to bring in death by dangerous cycling as a specific offence, along with other changes to car drivers and for other users of the road as well.

"So this is not a plan which is – as I think has been suggested – somehow going after cyclists.”

> “If mandatory safety measures are acceptable for car drivers, they should surely be acceptable for cyclists”: MP calls for cycling helmets to be made mandatory

The parliamentary debate over tougher cycling rules has not abated since Shapps’ climbdown, however, with a Conservative MP just this week calling for the government to make wearing a helmet while cycling a legal requirement.

Introducing a compulsory cycle helmet bill into the House of Commons, Mark Pawsey, the MP for Rugby, argued that if mandatory safety measures are acceptable for motorists, they “should surely be acceptable for cyclists”.

However, in December, the Department for Transport insisted that the government has “no intention” of making helmets mandatory, following a question from the Conservative MP for Shropshire constituency The Wrekin, Mark Pritchard.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

Add new comment

37 comments

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 10 months ago
0 likes

Spain is the 9th largest producer of motor vehicles. This is simply about sponsorship of government by the car industry. It will be the Oil, Gas and Motor industry that will be remembered for destroying the world if anyone survives to tell the story.  

Avatar
BBB | 10 months ago
6 likes

Perhaps the right wing government will also force cyclists to wear arm bands with a disc rotor or chainring symbols so they are easily identifiable in public spaces.

Avatar
ktache | 10 months ago
2 likes

I'd like to know what forms of bicycle indicators would be acceptable to this frothing, right wing eegit?

Mandatory bicycle indicators would definitely drive their effectiveness and technology. And being Italian, maybe stylishness.

Up until now these have been my favorite

https://road.cc/content/review/257611-useeme-bicycle-indicator-wristbands

Who still appear to be going, their eu website even uses the road.cc headline quote as the first review.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to ktache | 10 months ago
3 likes

Could be a way to address close passes. Just mount indicators the same distance apart as they are in a car - on poles each side.

For bonus points if hit they should damage vehicle paintwork but be flexible enough not to throw you off your bike. And retractable for getting through narrow "expensive dedicated cycle infra".

Avatar
ktache replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
2 likes

Very scratchy bits.

Make the narrow flight of stairs and doorway to my flat slightly difficult, and the technical off-road bits on my commute almost impossible...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to ktache | 10 months ago
2 likes

I forgot you were all-terrain!

OK, so the indicator lights are mounted on drones which are smart enough to keep formation either side on roads but trail you on the technical sections.

Add cameras and that covers you when someone runs into you regardless. They could report your position to the emergency services, or go to seek nearby help, or even tail the offending vehicle to assist the police.

Hang on, I think I've reinvented Lassie.

Avatar
Cmorton | 10 months ago
2 likes

Salvini is the Italian version of Farage, he just sprouts whatever populist nonsense will get him the most votes. He will know the proposals aren't realistic but it doesn't matter, as he he blame others for them failing and give him further ammunition to exploit people's grievances. I am surprised he isn't a Daily Mail columnist. 

Avatar
brakesmadly | 10 months ago
7 likes

"There is no way to prosecute a [cyclist] who might run into somebody else"

Just like there's 'no way' to prosecute anyone who commits any other crime whilst not wearing a numberplate?

Avatar
Steve K | 10 months ago
3 likes
Avatar
Botanique | 10 months ago
2 likes

Here's a thought, you want to require bikes be registered, covered by insurance and fitted with indicator lights?   Fine, then require that, in order to obtain a motor vehicle (bike or car) driving license and insurance,  you be required to use a bike (registered, insured and fitted with indicator lights) for transportation for three years subject to meeting proof of minimum distances covered on the bike prior to qualifying for a motor vehicle permit.  Learn the rules of the road on a bike and if you survive....get your motor vehicle license.

Avatar
Hodge | 10 months ago
2 likes

I have cycled in many European countries.  Cycling in Italy was, without doubt, the scariest for me.  Close passing on blind corners etc etc.  Italy needs to take a long hard look at the behaviour of motorists around cyclists.  Most cycling deaths in Italy will not be prevented with a piece of polystyrene on the head and indicators!  Of course this is a right wing 'we love the motorist' and we want your votes.  Complete madness.  I will not be returning to Italy as a cyclist without major changes in attitude by drivers there.

Avatar
Capercaillie | 10 months ago
5 likes

Italian politicians belatedly following the Nazis lead again.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to Capercaillie | 10 months ago
1 like

Looks like they've engaged reverse gear now.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Capercaillie | 10 months ago
1 like

A Sironval sportplex? Nice illustration on the Nazi regulations too!

Avatar
lonpfrb | 10 months ago
6 likes

RIP NICKY HAYDEN
the Kentucky KID
MotoGP World Champion
Killed on his bicycle in Italy during the Giro d'Italia when even the most ignorant motorist would be aware of bicycles...

Avatar
AltBren | 10 months ago
0 likes

This might not be popular, but I think anything with a motor should have to have most that though.. The compulsory helmet, number plates and insurance for defo. The electric motors have improved so much recently that they are nearly as dangerous as petrol.

Avatar
Hirsute replied to AltBren | 10 months ago
3 likes

Umm what ?

Do you faint when you travel more than 25 kph?

Avatar
AltBren replied to Hirsute | 10 months ago
1 like

No but if something goes wrong, it will be more destructive.

Avatar
AltBren replied to Hirsute | 10 months ago
1 like

(they go 40mph and more)

So by that logic no motorbike needs plates, indicators or insurance? Is that what you think.

Otherwise what is the difference between different types of motors that will get you up to dangerous speed?

And did you need to patronise me?

Avatar
NOtotheEU | 10 months ago
8 likes

The 12 year old cyclist killed in Birmingham last night, the pedestrian who went to help him and the two cyclists killed here in May were all hit by cars with number plates, indicators and insurance so they obviously work well.

Avatar
pneves | 10 months ago
0 likes

Cars and motorbikes have turn signals on them, but here in Portugal they seem to be malfunctioning all the time... The problem is never about equipment, its about ATTITUDE! 

Make everyone that has a driver's license take a free course about dagerous driving for cyclists. I rememeber a public transportation company invited all the bus drivers to use a static bike while a bus was making a close pass. Some of them s... on their pants! Non-cycling people have no ideia what it is to drive a bike on trafic.

 

However... helmets and insurance? Yes, why not? Licensing plates and turn signals?  plain stupid in my opinion.

 

Invest on forming people's attitudes. That makes sense. After that make laws and enforce them. Here in Portugal speed ticketing seems to be the only key to safety. If a driver makes a close pass and the police sees, nothing happens. 

Avatar
bensynnock replied to pneves | 10 months ago
8 likes

Mandatory helmets reduce the number of cyclists, and there is limited evidence of their overall benefit to road safety.

Avatar
Sriracha | 10 months ago
4 likes

Giro's going to be a spectacle with all those mandatory indicators. I presume a rider will be legally liable if they fail to correctly signal their intention to move out to mount their sprint for the line in timely fashion?

Avatar
brooksby | 10 months ago
10 likes

Quote:

many cycle lanes were being installed in “highly dangerous areas” with lots of traffic

But isn't that the point?  You put the cycle lanes in those areas so the cyclists don't have to mix it with the motorists...

Avatar
eburtthebike | 10 months ago
8 likes

transport minister Matteo Salvini outlined his plans to increase road safety

No, that is clearly not the intent.

Hard to believe that somewhere has worse politicians than Shapps.

Avatar
brooksby replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
8 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Hard to believe that somewhere has worse politicians than Shapps.

As I understand it, the Italian govt really are just >this close< to getting out their brown shirts and shiny black boots...

Avatar
Bmblbzzz | 10 months ago
2 likes

I'm assuming the requirement for indicators is included as a sacrificial clause to get some of the other stuff through. 

Avatar
the little onion replied to Bmblbzzz | 10 months ago
13 likes

With the current government, it will only signal right. 

 

If it is a sacrificial clause, the replacement will be to signal with your right hand, with the arm straight, in front of you, and angled slightly upward......

Avatar
brooksby replied to Bmblbzzz | 10 months ago
5 likes

Given how rarely motorists seem to use their indicators unless there's another car there (and even then it seems to be optional), will bike indicators only be compulsory if there are cyclists there?

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago
3 likes

I'm quite interested see how well this is implemented.

In particular, whether insurance / number plates / indicators will be required for all ages or just adult. Generally, children are not held to the same level of account as an adult, and it would seem extreme that cycling in Italy should be the only exception to this.

I understand that the common man can easily hate cyclists, but I wonder if that hate will blindly allow the humble bicycle to taken from his children?

Pages

Latest Comments