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"Grant Shapps should be congratulated": Frothing talk shows and Mr Loophole discuss number plates for cyclists

How Grant Shapps' pledge to enforce tougher rules on bike riders was reported in print and broadcast media...

It has been a whirlwind morning of newspaper front pages, talk show rants and social media doomscrolling since Grant Shapps' pledge to introduce tougher rules on bike riders (and subsequent comments from the Department for Transport that a softer approach published in a second interview is a "more accurate reflection of the Transport Secretary's view")...

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

So, how was the news reported in the written press and broadcast media? Let's start with the newspapers, which went to print late last night, headed by the Daily Mail front page interview with Shapps, headlined: 'Cyclists may need number plates'.

Simultaneously, across London, The Times also went front page with their own Shapps interview, including the ever so contrasting comment: "I'm not attracted to the bureaucracy of registration plates. That would go too far."

By the morning, the talk show ranters had fired themselves up for the usual 'debate' and 'discussion', Talk TV's Mike Graham dropping an all-time anti-cycling bingo monologue, letting us know exactly how he feels...

"Cyclists are up in arms as usual, guess why? They don't fancy being held accountable for their actions," he said. "They don't fancy having licences and registrations for their vehicles. They don't like the idea of crashing into people and being identifiable, they don't like the idea of being held to account for stuff they do.

"There are plenty of cyclists who do the right thing, who obey the law, but there are also equally plenty of what I would call extreme cyclists who love the idea of disobeying the rules, who love the idea of not going in cycle lanes, who love the idea of cycling across traffic when they are not supposed to.

"Putting themselves at risk, putting other people at risk. There are loads of cyclists who enjoy riding on the pavement, loads of cyclists who enjoy going down one-way streets the wrong way. Cycle lanes have destroyed most of the infrastructure of many cities in this country and it's getting worse. So why not make it possible for an even playing field for everyone who uses the road?"

If you needed any more?

Graham's guest, Nick 'Mr Loophole' Freeman the lawyer whose 2021 petition, to have cyclists be required to wear hi-vis tabards with identification numbers, scraped across the 10,000-signature mark for a government response before being rejected.

> Government confirms it has "no plans" to make cyclists wear identification numbers as it rejects ‘Mr Loophole’ petition

Freeman told the show: "There are an awful lot of cyclists who actually do want this. It's the minority who are particularly vociferous. I have had signatures from other cyclists saying what's being suggested is going to increase safety of those on our roads, and who can ever criticise that?

"I, of course, accept motoring doesn't have the same benefits that the green agenda has, but at the same time it [cycling] is dangerous and why would anyone say 'I should be exempt from legislation?'

"Just imagine taking number plates off cars. It would be mayhem [...] because we're suddenly saying 'we can't trace you' so we are relying on your integrity. That is the situation with cycles, so a registration tabard or a visible sign that can be easily read by members of the public. So if you are a motorist with a dash cam and you see a cyclist cycling dangerously, you can record it.

"If they do not respond to it they are going to get six points on their driving or cycle licence and face a heavy fine, and of course need insurance. What we're saying is all of us who use the roads are going to be accountable. Nobody can seriously argue against it."

The Talk TV comments added to his quotes in the Daily Mail's story, where Freeman suggested "Grant Shapps should be congratulated".

Elsewhere on Good Morning Britain, panellist Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail ranted: "They are a nightmare. Cyclists are a nightmare. Riding through red lights all the time, riding on the pavement all the time, clattering into people all the time. They are not insured, you don't know who they are, they don't wear helmets."

And breathe, that's all, for now... 

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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hawkinspeter | 1 year ago

Let's copy North Korea - they have all the best ideas:

(Obviously due to the danger, women should also be banned from cycling in the UK or maybe even walking too quickly)

NOtotheEU replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
hawkinspeter wrote:

Let's copy North Korea - they have all the best ideas:

(Obviously due to the danger, women should also be banned from cycling in the UK or maybe even walking too quickly)

The Guardians sarcastic (I hope) recommendation to copy North Korea is a little too subtle. It could easily be read by the average non cycling motorist as whole hearted approval.


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