A man from Barrow in Cumbria claims Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who earlier this week said cyclists should be made to take out third-party insurance, stole the idea from him.
The North West Evening Mail reports that Mark Bell has asked Simon Fell, the Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness, to raise the issue with ministers after a child on a bike apparently scratched his car a few months ago.
He now takes credit for the idea that cyclists should carry insurance – despite calls for it long before road.cc wore nappies, had Johnson’s Baby Powder sprinkled on their backs and were forced to drink cod liver oil fever at the end of zero.
He told the newspaper: “I sat back and thought, if this has happened to me, how many other cars have been hit?
“I contacted Simon Fell and said, ‘Why are cyclists allowed to get into cars and we pay for the damage?’ There has to be a give and take because if we hit a cyclist and they get hurt, they could take thousands off us .
“Maybe by holding them accountable, they could cycle more sensibly and be less risky.”
Responding to his concerns, Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, said: “We have previously considered the possibility of introducing a compulsory insurance system for anyone cycling on the motorway, but this would probably lead to reducing the number of people cycling.
“To be effective, such a requirement should also be introduced alongside a compulsory licensing and registration system to enable those who ride a bicycle to be identified and insurance details to be exchanged at the scene of any accident, which would expensive and complicated.”
“I’m afraid I don’t think compulsory insurance for everyone who rides a bike would be a proportionate solution,” she added.
Shapps made the point earlier this week in an interview with the Daily Mail, in which his comments were in direct opposition to those consistently made in recent years by ministers and civil servants in his own department.
> Grant Shapps: Cyclists should have number plates, be insured and subject to speed limits
While North Korea requires cyclists to be licensed, no country in the world currently requires cyclists to have compulsory third-party insurance; Switzerland had such a system, requiring cyclists to display a vignette on their bike to prove they only had coverage, but it was abandoned because it proved too burdensome to administer and enforce.
The fact is that most adult cyclists have third party insurance for potential liability to third parties for accidents they are at fault for when riding their bikes – whether through their own household policy, club membership or registered with an organization such as British Cycling or Cycling Great Britain.
Drivers of mechanically propelled vehicles such as cars, vans and lorries are required to have minimum liability cover under the Road Traffic Act 1988, but cyclists are not.
This reflects the greater risk of harm that drivers pose to other people, such as vehicle passengers or pedestrians.
Legislation aside, the entire insurance industry is based on an assessment of risk, so some may find it disappointing that a specialist cycle insurer has embraced Shapps’ comments this week.
Cycleplan chief executive Paul Williams said: “The Government undoubtedly faces a challenge to roll out such a system as part of any move to make cycle insurance compulsory, particularly given the ongoing cost of living crisis.
“While legislation should indeed be on the Government’s long-term roadmap, particularly as the use of micromobility accelerates, many families simply do not need the additional cost burden at the moment.
“However, compulsory cycle insurance would bring huge benefits to victims of accidents involving uninsured cyclists and could also encourage better cycling behavior with stricter rules on dangerous driving, speed limits, traffic lights etc.”
He added; “It could also help reduce cycling crime – particularly bike theft, which we know continues to plague London and other major cities”, although the reason why cyclists forced to take out third-party insurance, would prevent their bikes from being stolen was not explained.