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Should cycling be banned?

I have been a keen cyclist for most of my adult life. I know what you’re thinking, “Grow up get a car.” Ah, but I am ahead of you on that one; I have both.

Anyway, the cycling did originally come about because – confession time – once upon a time I was an environmentalist. But as I grew out of such nonsense it has continued. I enjoy it. Well. Sometimes. Not when it is cold or wet and definitely not when it is cold and wet.

But whatever the weather may be cycling is dangerous. I am a cautious cylist. I choose my routes carefully, I am careful at junctions, I give parked cars a wide berth, I use lights at night and wear reflective clothing. I am very careful turning right. I am appalled at the risk some of my “fellow” cyclists take. But despite all this I am painfully aware that there could be a juggernaut/white van man/Nissan Micra with my name on it. The BBC employee, Jeremy Vine, likes to put a camera on his bike and upload the footage. Now putting aside the fact that Vine is a BBC employee and therefore [insert insult here] the footage he posts is alarming. Again and again we see drivers breaking the rules of the road and putting him in danger. And there are plenty of other less-well-known cyclists doing the same.

There is another factor here. British roads are amongst the safest in the world. British drivers are amongst the safest in the world. I have even heard a Dutchman compliment us on our consideration. Which implies to me that this is as good as it gets.

So, I am in favour of cycling lanes and punishing motorists? Not really. Although I do like cycle lanes I am aware that society should not and will not be organised on the basis of what suits Patrick Crozier. Frankly, the safety argument could just as well be used to ban people from such a reckless activity as cycling in a built-up area.

Mind you I am acutely aware that the cycling fanatics employ the best arguments. They continually point out the danger that motorized vehicles represent and the pollution they cause. Which is true. Well I say that but I recently learnt that there is an argument that exhaust fumes are not polluting at all. I am not ready to accept that just yet but it is interesting. On the other side of the argument motorists tend to complain about cylists jumping red lights – true but it’s their funeral – and cyclists making no contribution to road upkeep – true, but the contribution would be miniscule. What they ought to be doing is reading their Basiat and pointing out the unseen benefits of motorised transport – the comfort, protection from the elements, load-carrying capacity and the unseen costs of cycling – namely congestion and smelly office workers.

So how should roads be organised? How should the competing claims be reconciled and how should road managers account for the unseen as well as the seen? Well, I am a libertarian aren’t I? I believe in free markets. So, we privatise the roads and, hey presto! job done. Except it is not that easy. Glossing over the difficulties in privatising roads, there is no track record of private roads. Yes, there are some private motorways – and there would be many more if I had anything to do with it. Yes, there are little private roads here and they are usually badly pot-holed and serve a tiny number of residents. But nothing – to the best of my knowledge – on a town let alone a city-wide basis. Why is this? My guess is it is because if you own a road – in all the ways you can own a road – you are the state. If you own a road you can put the people who live on that road under house arrest. You can completely control them. The state tends to jealously guard such a power.

So roads – especially those in urban areas – will continue to be state-owned. But that doesn’t mean we libertarians have nothing to say on the subject. A useful thought exercise – one can be applied to all sorts of areas, not just roads – is to imagine what would happen if there were private ownership and a free market. In this case it is to imagine what would happen if roads were privately owned and use that as a guide.

So, what would happen in this hypothetical world? Well, you can never be sure but there are a few things I am pretty sure would happen. There would be road pricing; certainly on arterial roads. Would that lead to rat runs? Maybe but those would be priced too. There would be a pollution charge to compensate the victims – should any be found. Road pricing would also apply to cyclists. Although there would be a reduction due to the reduced level of wear and tear they cause there would be an increase to take into account the congestion they cause. All this means that bicycles would have to be registered. It is perfectly possible that such a charge would price cyclists off the road. Or maybe, it would price the vast majority of motorised vehicles off the road. Who knows? although I suspect it would be more the former than the latter.

40 comments to Should cycling be banned?

  • I’m not sure I’d use Vine as an example regardless of his employment status. Likewise that twat cycling Mikey. Both use confrontational behaviour for the purpose of gaining clicks. I’ve watched enough of their output to recognise that many of the incidents they film wouldn’t be incidents at all if they were applying forward planning and risk management – along with a suitable attitude. Not that this excuses bad behaviour on the part of other road users, but as a motorcyclist, I encounter the same behaviours and manage them without drama precisely because I avoid confrontation, allowing people to go even when they have made a mistake and inconvenienced me. But then, I’m not trying to get clicks on a YouTube channel.

    The problem with road pricing is what we are now seeing happening in ULEZ zones and fifteen minute cities. It’s just that it’s the state doing it and not private companies. Do we really want more surveillance cameras? Rhetorical question, given that we are already plagued with the damned things.

  • Mark


    Indeed, and the topic of road pricing and private roads generally would be the most egregious example of the high ideals of libertarianism, free markets or whatever else you want to call it meeting squalid reality.

    As it’s private property would that mean the “policing” could be subcontracted and would GDRP apply to any data gathered? Government would simply be incapable of interfering of course and it would be a nightmarish bastard chimera of the absolute worst of public and private.

    It’s one of those things I would love to see the scottish or welsh nazis try though. Damn, that would be a show!

  • Ben David

    1. Require licensing and insurance for cyclists.
    2. Require cameras in all types of vehicles. Everyone on the road is recording front and back, and if possible side views.
    3. Jury-based review of all traffic-related insurance, criminal, and tort claims. No claim without camera footage. All road and driver cameras are presented.

  • @Mark – a parallel would be the French motorway system. It works well, however it is policed by the state.

    Roads are one area that I am content to let the state manage. However, I’d like them to keep up their end of the bargain with effective maintenance. Ahem.

  • bobby b

    We don’t need private roads to treat transport rationally. We do have road-pricing, in urban/suburban areas at least. The currency charged isn’t money – it’s time.

    If I drive downtown at rush hour, I am charged much more in time than if I drive there at night. In any system of roads, this is really the true cost we are charged; the minuscule wear of some surface is mostly meaningless.

    No one receives this spent time as payment. It’s wasted. But when this payment becomes too large, we (when we are being rational) build more roads or expand the ones we have.

    A rational society can probably run a roads system as well – as efficiently, as transportation-serving – as a private entity. It requires a clear view of what “cost” and “payment” and “profit” mean when applied in a societal-transport context – and when it’s not being rational, these are the concepts that have been warped or misappropriated by narrower interests.

    Many portions of our (U.S.) interstate freeway system have been converted to toll roads, some with private management. They tend to be well-maintained, because they have that purely-dedicated funding from tolls. But when we simply spend a bit more money from our taxation (however we accomplish this), the rest of the system can be just as good. Private roads hold no monopoly on good condition.

    I’ve spent many years – decades – commuting to work and fun on motorcycles, large and small. (In Minnesota, I’m weather-constrained, of course.) They have their place, and offer advantages. But they also carry costs, and are limiting for many of the purposes of transport. More than a small bag of groceries can be a real pain. Smaller cars, on public roads, are the future.

  • bobby b

    Ben David
    March 7, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    “3. Jury-based review of all traffic-related insurance, criminal, and tort claims.”

    Place not your trust in juries. They are led by the loudest member, are easily swayed, and are comprised of people who couldn’t get out of jury duty. They are the best solution (out of many bad ones) for deciding if the state should punish someone’s criminal conduct, but I wouldn’t expand their use.

  • bobby b

    I guess I skipped the main question. I would ban bicycles on all roads where the speed limit is more than 30mph. It’s the speed disparity that makes the combination of bikes and cars unworkable.

  • Paul Marks

    Most major roads in England and Wales were private Turn Pike Trusts during the industrial revolution. They worked well enough. As did the private canals and (later) the private railways (contrary to the nonsense one hears – British railways today are NOT privately owned, the idea that we have “privatised railways” is just one of the many lies that dominates British life).

    In the Highlands of Scotland and Ireland there were big government road projects – supposedly to bring prosperity, they failed to bring prosperity.

    As for the question, “should cycling be banned”? No it should not be banned.

    It is irritating to have to dodge bicycles on the pavements – and it must be a great trial to older people. But I can understand why bicyclists do not want to cycle on the roads – in the past they would have been run down by horses, now by motor cars (including electrically powered ones – which are especially dangerous as they are so quiet – rather like the electric tram that killed the composer Gustave Mahler).

  • 1. Require licensing and insurance for cyclists.

    Dear god no, is there no aspect of life ever to escape the fucking permit Raj?

  • Mark

    Agree, besides which any “private” road would have to get through the ideological room 101 of a “privatisation” process. Private cards are verboten in the brave new world so one can imagine who would be allowed to “invest”.

    Private roads generally? Not given that the genie of widely available personalised transport has been decades out of the bottle.

  • John


    “Put not your trust in juries”.

    I am surprised that no-one has mentioned this pertinent verdict from last week:-


  • Kirk

    The root issue is this: Bicycles are incompatible with cars and pedestrians both. Pedestrians are incompatible with cars and bikes… I leave the rest of that as an exercise to the reader.

    Around here, the biggest problem is mountain bikes and hiking trails. The bike riders seem to think they have a right to use the trails, without regard to the others who might also want to exercise those rights.

    A few years ago, there was a lot of amusement at the fate of a forest ranger who went out bombing around on hiking trails with his mountain bike. He literally ran into a grizzly bear going at speed around a corner… With predictable results. It was described as a “mauling”, but I suspect the bear would have described the incident differently. I’ve almost been run over by these assholes a few times, myself.

    It all comes down to what we used to call “trail etiquette” back in the day. A quaint concept, not taught in these sadly diminished times of ours. The idea is, you should take care not to be an asshole, which is apparently beyond many in the Lycra set. Also, a lot of runners, hikers, and the like. You don’t go bombing around blind curves at speed on hiking trails, which is what that ranger was doing. If he’d have hit a hiker on foot, he’d have likely killed them. Instead, he hit a bear, and the bear killed him instead… Which I find humorous in a macabre way.

    It’s much the same on the road, and with the sidewalk. You behave like an ass, you’re going to cause problems for everyone.

  • Christian Moon

    Just want to compliment @longrider on the first paragraph of his reply above: it perfectly sums up the problem with Vine and his ilk, and prescribes exactly the best attitude for cyclists as well as motorcyclists.

    A helpful insight for me, as a London cyclist and driver, was to realise that bikes and cars are not really using the same road space. It looks like it at traffic lights, but cars are only really held up when they’re stuck behind the car in front at the next set of lights, when the cyclists will flow back round them.

    I do see that cyclists are annoying and unpredictable for drivers: make them have to concentrate more. Not sure if even Bastiat could cope with a calculus of the unseen for this, and how you price it seems something inescapably arbitrary.

  • Kirk

    @Christian Moon,

    Your post made me go back and pay more attention to Longrider’s.

    I think there’s a certain quotient of “deranged martyr complex” going on with a bunch of people who get into bicycling. It’s like the bicycling becomes an end unto itself, a demonstration of virtue and superiority, and if anyone dares get in their way, well… They’re bad people and need to be berated. Which gives them an endorphin rush.

    It’s basically all down to the a lot of the involved people getting off on what they do; if a bicyclist provokes a driver or a pedestrian, then they get that same endorphin rush they get bombing down a hiking trail at high speed. Same with some of the drivers and pedestrians; if they assert themselves, they’re rewarded with an endorphin hit and they keep right on doing it. Like most human behavior, it’s all about the endorphins.

    The trick is, you need to arrange things such that people get their hits doing socially responsible and productive things, not getting all wrapped around the handle delivering righteous punishments upon the rest of the public.

  • Blackwing1

    With regard to road ownership in suburban areas there is already at least one example. The Minnesota suburb of of Mpls/St. Paul of North Oaks is 100% private property, and each home owns the road in front of it right to the middle of the road. The homeowner’s association determines when the roads need repair (by vote) and each owner pays for the length of frontage they possess.

    They also contract for law enforcement with a local police department, paid for through the association fees.

    One of the nicest neighborhoods in a decaying state.

  • Lee Moore

    PC On the other side of the argument motorists tend to complain about cylists jumping red lights – true but it’s their funeral

    Christian Moon as a London cyclist and driver, was to realise that bikes and cars are not really using the same road space. It looks like it at traffic lights, but cars are only really held up when they’re stuck behind the car in front at the next set of lights

    I’m going to have to beg to differ here.

    Those cyclists who whizz through red lights at 30 mph don’t hold anyone up, except when they get themselves mown down, when there’s a mess to tidy up. But that doesn’t happen very often.

    But the hold up is usually the result of cyclists with lesser pedal power meandering to the front of the car queue at red light, and then setting off slowly when the lights change. It is true that for those cars that do get into the junction before the lights change, the hold up is temporary, and they soon pass the cyclists.

    But the real hold up is that fewer cars get through the lights for each light change. Instead of 9, which would get through if there were no cyclists clogging up the works, maybe only 5 get through. The other 4 don’t get to catch up and pass the cyclists because they’re stuck behind when the light turns red again.

    In short the junctions are clogged because the leading vehicles (bicycles) move off at half the speed (or less) that the cars move off, or would move off if the bicycles weren’t blocking the way. While in theory it’s the cyclist’s funeral, in reality motorists decide that the time cost of the paperwork involved in mowing down a cyclist is worse than the extra delay from not mowing them down.

  • Steven R

    My experience is that bikers in the US are self-entitled jagoffs who delight in being annoying. We do things like put in bike lanes and they still ride in the streets, block traffic, ignore every traffic law known to God and man, and act all indignant when they are involved in an accident they caused. Yes, there are drivers who are anuses (the diesel truck drivers who roll smoke) and there are good bikers, but by and large they are like the bike rider from Portlandia:


  • William O. B'Livion

    Long time cyclist, motorcyclist, and driver. I’ve ridden bicycles for errands or commuting on 4 continents, and 4 major US cities (counting the San Francisco Bay Area as one major city).

    I’ve ridden Chicago streets in snowstorms, ridden in desert heat on 2 continents, and rode a bike to a job interview in Amsterdam.

    I’ve long been an advocate for cycling, but not really an activist. People need to be allowed to live their lives as they see fit.

    I’m also a 50 something living in a mountain state that routinely has temperatures colder than 0F (-18C), and I’ve had snow and ice on my driveway since about Thanksgiving.

    The answer to this dilemma is for people on both sides to stop being narcissistic assholes, acknowledge that everyone has rights, duties AND responsibilities and start worrying more about THEIR OWN FOOKIN DUTIES ABD RESPONSIBILITIES than about the other persons.

    I still think more people can and should cycle more, for all kinds of reasons that don’t include air pollution.

    That said, there are a LOT of dickheads on both sides. Too many cyclists don’t obey basic traffic laws. Too many of them are entitled pricks.

    Too many car drivers don’t obey basic traffic laws. Too many of them are entitled pricks.

    Roads are not for cars, they are not for bicycles, they are for people. Properly designed roads have sufficient lane width and/or shoulders for cyclists IF the car drivers have control over their vehicles and orient themselves properly in the lane. AND if the cyclist rides as close to the edge of the ride-able area as is safe.

    We do things like put in bike lanes and they still ride in the streets, block traffic

    Those bike lanes are either put where it’s convenient or where it’s politically expedient. This doesn’t mean that that lane happens to go where I want to go.

    And in big cities (Chicago, San Francisco) those bike lanes aren’t cleared, so road debris including broken glass and nails wind up in the lanes. And drivers use it as a parking/stopping lane.

    So yeah, we ride where we need to get where we’re going and be safe.

    And we’re not *blocking* traffic, we ARE traffic.

    ignore every traffic law known to God and man, and act all indignant when they are involved in an accident they caused


    What percentage of accidents are caused by drunk or high drivers? By idiots texting and driving, or doing something else on their phones?

    Falling asleep behind the wheel, running red lights, running stop signs.

    I once followed a police car through at least a half dozen intersections where the COP never stopped for any of the stop signs.

    I’ve had drivers (well, their passengers) throw stuff at me out of moving cars. I’ve had them turn in front of me. Drive *far* closer to me than needed.

    So no, it’s not the saintly drivers against the diabolically evil cyclists.

    It is true that for those cars that do get into the junction before the lights change, the hold up is temporary, and they soon pass the cyclists.

    It’s always struck me as somewhat hilarious that someone is whining about sitting in a pretty comfy chair with their radio and air conditioning while being held up for *seconds* while someone gets going.

    . Instead of 9, which would get through if there were no cyclists clogging up the works, maybe only 5 get through.

    More like 8 get through instead of 9 because of the bike, while 2 of the 9 don’t get through because the second or third car in line was responding to a text message.

    My idiot MiL will COMPLETELY IGNORE stoplights to send text messages, telling my daughter “Oh, the people behind me will honk when it’s time for me to go”. Yeah, I have serious problems with this.

    In short the junctions are clogged because the leading vehicles (bicycles) move off at half the speed (or less) that the cars move off

    My experience–outside of San Francisco–is that at most intersections the cyclist is far enough to the right (US) of the intersection that the car DOESN’T need to wait.

    In San Francisco it’s a mix of activist assholes, and just the sheer number of cyclists coupled with streets that don’t have *any* extra room at all.

    If you take those people off the bicycles and put them in cars it gets *even worse*.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I fondly recall the PJ O’Rourke essay on the evils of cycling.

  • PaulF

    On the other side of the argument motorists tend to complain about cylists jumping red lights – true but it’s their funeral

    Agreed, it’s their funeral, no sympathy. But I have a lot of sympathy with the poor sod of a motorist who’s driving sensibly and suddenly some idiot of a cyclist appears in front of them and they can’t stop and they have to live with the fact that they’ve killed some for the rest of their life.

  • bobby b

    WOB, I sympathize with you on this, because I agree with your thesis that more of us would be better off if we biked a lot more. We’d save a ton on cars and gas and parking, we’d be healthier, and we’d start treating the two questions of “where should I live?” and “where should I work?” as the more rational single issue that it ought to be.

    But the main friction doesn’t come at intersections. You said “properly designed roads have sufficient lane width and/or shoulders for cyclists . . . ” Maybe they do, but there aren’t many “properly designed roads” if your criteria are used.

    Usually, there isn’t proper room on the side to allow safe cycling AND allow traffic to maintain the speeds and rhythm of which the road is capable.

    Not only is the cyclist frequently taking his life in his clips, the passing cars are constantly creating a chokepoint, as some whiz past the cycle while others tentatively slow down, move way to the center, and creep past. Bad drivers are the worst, and there are a lot of those. So, every bike on the side of a poorly designed road is like an accident on the freeway, slowing everyone that passes, and the carrying capacity of the road drops significantly. This is not because of poor cycling, but because of poor roads and bad auto drivers. But that fault doesn’t make it any less real, or less costly to the transport scheme.

    Non-motorized bikes and cars are simply incompatible on 30mph+ roads if we expect to utilize those roads efficiently. If we decide that cycling is so desirable from a social-engineering view that we’re willing to accept that our road efficiency will be lower, so be it, but we ought to recognize that it’s not a free trade.

  • Nemesis

    I believe a lot of the antagonism between highway users is exacerbated by zoning. People then feel an exaggerated sense of entitlement, minor misdemeanours punished and ensuing road rage. Besides it is not an efficient use of available space.
    The late traffic engineer Hans Monderman, I believe had the right ideas with putting responsibility back on the users. The few examples based on his ideas work well and with fewer accidents. Look at Poynton in Cheshire https://youtu.be/-vzDDMzq7d0.

  • Tim Worstall

    “British roads are amongst the safest in the world. British drivers are amongst the safest in the world. I have even heard a Dutchman compliment us on our consideration. Which implies to me that this is as good as it gets.”

    Not wholly certain about that. I cycle a lot here (Portugal). Not to get to places but to stretch the legs and clear the lungs. And it seems better to me here than England. Driving, more generally, is worse, but cycling better.

    I have no fully formed theory here but cycling is quite a big participation sport here – proper road cycling. Volta de Portugal is the opening of the season and a training race for the classics etc. Lots of cycling clubs around. Whether that means folk are more used to a speeding cyclist, or more culturally attuned or whatever. But I do get the impression that the overtake wider, will wait behind on a narrow road, all those courtesies, here rather than there.

  • Mark


    I don’t know about the US, but the real issue here is that the fuckwit in a car is subject to law – actual penalties with actual consequences, which can be very serious – the fuckwit on the pushbike is not.

    There are all sorts of laws with real penalties that could be enforced but simply are not. I can’t speak for anybody else of course, but that is the essence of my beef with pushbikes.

    Those lycra clad children who do want to ride anywhere and fuck everybody else believing they are above the law, are essentially correct in assuming so.

    I find this puzzling, particularly as most of those I see on pushbikes seem to be “pale, male and stale”.

  • bobby b

    In legal terms in some places, “zoning” is considered to be one segment of an overarching “property entitlement system.” So, if zoning is in place and enforced, the sense of entitlement isn’t really exaggerated. Zoning is just one more stick in the bundle of sticks that we use as analogy to explain property rights and interests.

  • FrankH

    @bobby b

    I would ban bicycles on all roads where the speed limit is more than 30mph.

    Which would limit me to cycling within a mile of my house.

    Unless you’re suggesting making all roads 30mph where there is no alternative cycling route. I could support that.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Don’t try cycling in Malta. The standards of driving there are appalling. I’ve seen a few close calls. It must be the Italian mindset or something.

  • tfourier


    At least in California cyclists are governed by the same laws as automobiles. The CVC’s. Which seems to totally unknown to most cyclists without a drivers license. I have found the best way of ending an argument with some ahole cyclist in places like San Francisco is start quoting the traffic ticket fine amounts for all CVC’s they had just broken. Its the same ticket amount for a cyclist. Running a stop sign $214, running a red light $434, wrong way on one way street $600+. etc..

    Its fun to watch the blood drain out of the face of some self righteous arrogant git on a bike as you start quoting CVC’s and the current tariffs as this scene was not playing out the way they expected. You can see them thinking is this guy a LEO or something. What if the PD are called. He seems to know how ruin our day.

    Confrontation ends very quickly as the idiot on the bike scurry off. Because once the SFPD arrives then the real fun starts.

    Its a pity you can’t do this in the UK.

    And even 40 years after I first started cycling in big cities cyclists still account for a rounding error on less than 1% of all passenger miles traveled. Except in certain tourist / college towns all money spent of bike lanes is a huge waste of resources. To placate a tiny minority of mostly well heeled middle class people. In San Francisco they are the true 1%. Mostly white males, 20 – 45, either high income or grew up in high income families. And less that 10% of them cycle when its raining. Purely a discretionary mode of transport. A hobby.

    Just wait until someone brings a Civil Right lawsuit in the US against bike lanes. It would be a slam dunk. Just show video of who uses the very few high traffic bike lanes. The least “inclusive” form of transit spending.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    There’s lots of points raised for and against bike riders and also car drivers. But really it only describes the present situation.

    What could be done about it? I’s suggest each Police Service have a ‘crime of the week’ when particular crimes are zealously policed.

    We could have one week in a year when ‘riding a bike at night without lights’ is zealously policed (resulting in fines etc.). One week when ‘opening a car door without checking for cyclists or pedestrians’ is zealously policed. Driving and using a cell phone. Riding wearing earbuds?

    I don’t subscribe generally to too much policing but for *certain cases* it seems that some attention would be beneficial.

  • Steven R

    On paper bikes are subject to the same laws as cars in most states. On paper, because far too many bikers ignore them and cops generally can’t be bothered to nail them. And that’s at least where some of the animosity towards bikes comes from. On paper they are supposed to have a license plate or registration but you rarely see those plates. And far too many bikers simply ignore the laws anyway. Two abreast? Only when it suits them. Stop at a stop sign? Not when they’re in a pack or have those clip on shoes because coming to a complete stop is such a hassle for them. Almost hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk or decide the sidewalk is less congested than the road and nearly nail a walker? Stupid walker shouldn’t have been there anyway. That’s where my comment about them acting indignant when involved in an accident of their own making above came from. When I lived in a city, I saw with my own eyes three instances where a biker has blown through a stop sign or red light, hit a car or get clipped, and then got all bent out of shape because the car (with the right of way) didn’t stop for them.

    Any goodwill the Lance Armstrong wannabes had has long since been spent and it’s their own fault.

  • Mark


    I’m sure it’s the same in the states of course, but we have (among the plethora of motoring related offences)

    – Careless driving: which falls below the standard of a “careful and competent” driver.

    – Dangerous driving: which falls far below the standard of a “careful and competent” driver.

    The minimum penalty for careless, probably 3 points and a fine, is far from trivial, certainly not as far as insurance renewals are concerned! Careless is a bit of a cover all and is, well careless and inconsiderate. Dangerous involves wilfully putting yourself and others at risk.

    There are offences of careless and dangerous cycling, the wording of which is pretty well identical and for which the maximum penalties are £1000 and £2500 respectively. Applying these criteria, how much careless and dangerous cycling do you see? (and before anybody starts, I know there is a lot of careless and dangerous driving that goes unpunished but there is a lot that results in significant penalties).

    How difficult would it be for the police to set up stings around traffic lights and other places at random now and again and catch some of these terminally arrogant children. Maybe clobbering some of them with fines of several hundred now and then would make them think (forlorn hope, even if it were to happen!)

    I’m trying hard to think how anybody could possibly object to this, and if so, on what grounds.

    If you are a pushbike rider, whether you are sensible, with clips and mudguard ft’chain or a deluded tour de France wannabe, it would be very much in your interest. You can ride a pushbike on the roads, with precious little – if any practical – interference from the law. Given that, I really would like to know where this sense of victimhood comes from.

    You shouldn’t assume that you will always be able to, and if restrictions and enforcement come along, you’ll know who to thank.

  • pete

    1. Require licensing and insurance for cyclists.

    Not much of a libertarian are you Ben David?

    If motorists caused as little death, injury and damage as cyclists the government probably wouldn’t insist on licensing and insurance for them.

    Any other licences and insurance you think we should have imposed by the state?

    Scissor users? Pedestrians? Lawnmowers?

    Never mind Ben David. You are not alone in letting your libertarian standards slip on this topic as the comments above show. Cyclists seem to bring out the authoritarian in even libertarian motorists. They are usually in favour of freedom when it comes to things like speed limits, speed cameras, parking restrictions etc. Amusing.

  • tfourier


    Traffic law is very easy to enforce against those with a driving license, a photo ID, with an address attached. And very easy to collect fines. Until cyclists are licensed low enforcement rates against them will not change.

    Actually in cities like SF the cycling fad has mostly run its course. Started in the mid 2000’s and peaked around 2014 and by 2020 numbers were way down. Leaving transport system devastation in its wake. It was all the dead cyclists that (plus the nature of fads) that really deflated the fad.

    30 years ago when there were very few cyclist deaths in road accidents the fault was 50/50 split among car driver / cyclist. Once the fad got going the cyclist death rate went up several hundred percent as hoards of incompetent and irresponsible cyclists infested the streets. In fatal accidents the cyclists was at fault at least 90% of the time. The change in pedestrian at fault number were almost as bad. Apart from old people the pedestrian was at fault at least 80% of the time.

    And the utterly stupid Vision Zero peoples response is to try to further controls of cars. Even though a lot of cyclist accidents involve buses, utility trucks and delivery trucks, not cars.

    As a long time cyclist I always used to give a lot of leeway to cyclists. But after Critical Mass legitimized utterly obnoxious and dangerous behavior by a minority of cyclists and then the subsequent fad my attitude now in cities like San Francisco is when I hear of another cyclist death is good – one less. The one exception is that small minority of genuinely responsible city cyclists. The Rainy Day cyclists. On rainy days you will see a few hardy people out and about and I will treat them with all consideration. Because they treat others the same way. But the Fair Weather cyclists, mostly irresponsible dangerous and incompetent.

    If you want a point of reference I am always surprised when back in the UK at just how polite and considerate most UK cyclists are. Thats how bad the SF cyclists are. But there again the badly behaved UK ones are always taken aback once they realize that, yes, this pedestrian is getting ready to punch them out if want to push their luck by running a red light or not yielding. One of the advantages to being over 6 feet and built like a line backer. With an attitude to match, when needed. I know exactly what to say to the police if they are called in such a case. And its the cyclist they will be writing up a charge sheet for. So far they have always got the message at the last moment and yielded or stopped.

    But its such a joy to be a driver or pedestrian in the places where the vast majority of cyclists are polite and responsible. In the Bay Area the city of Davis is a good example. Elsewhere, less so.

  • bobby b

    “Which would limit me to cycling within a mile of my house.”

    Me, too. Which would be a pain. But, in the case of roads on which we’re seeking to use all of their capacity – urban/suburban feeders which are at full capacity 2 or 3 or more times per day – bikes on the shoulder drop the capacity significantly. We cannot feed through as many people on those roads when shared with bikes.

    Yeah, roads are made for people, not vehicles – so the drop in people-transporting capacity ought to be the deciding factor.

    Not an authoritarian position. A resource-use position.

  • Mark


    “bring out the authoritarian in even libertarian motorists…..”

    No, it’s not being brought out. It’s pushbike riders with attitudes like yours that are doing their damnest to drag it out.

    You may well succeed.

  • Paul Marks

    There is no reason why the roads should not be privately owned.

    As for what policies towards cyclists the private owners followed in the big towns – that would be up to them.

    The owners might not be for-profit-road enterprises – they might be trusts (as they used to be) or developers. The Grosvenor family (the Dukes of Westminster) created road systems for their developments in London.

  • Mark

    @Paul Mark’s

    It is conceivable that a road could be privately financed, built and operated, but it would likely be so strictly regulated that it would, for all practical purposes, be state controlled.

    If you had a few billion to invest and decided to build your own road somewhere, how would you want to run it and how would regulation actually allow you to?

  • Steven R

    We had private roads down in the coal fields during the Mine Wars. Striking miners were fired and couldn’t use them to leave or they would be thrown in jail for trespassing by the private police (or sheriffs on the take) and they couldn’t use public roads because they would be tossed in the clink for vagrancy (because they were unemployed and the sheriff was on the take). And they couldn’t just catch a ride out of town on a train because they had been paid in company script (and not in cash) and if the miner was lucky he didn’t owe money to the company (the Company Store syndrome) but he still couldn’t buy a ticket without money.

    That’s why so many of them ended up in camps like the ones up in Cabin Creek and Paint Creek where they were essentially stuck.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    How can you have recycling, unless you first have cycling?

  • I’ve been recently engaged in a frustrating argument with bicycle fanatics on a social media platform who insist that large numbers of people are willing to leave their cars at home and bicycle everywhere if there were “more dedicated bicycle lanes”. Well, my city has been madly building these for several years; and the result has been a huge under-utilization of said lanes. It’s just not convenient, most times, for most people to use a bicycle most of the time. The elderly and handicapped are unlikely to, it’s too challenging in storms or during the winter (in my part of Canada), also challenging for long distances or carrying goods. Myself, I used to bicycle to work, some 3 kilometers away, but when travelling downtown I would take public transit rather than bicycle 30 kilometres or drive and deal with the traffic congestion and parking charges. When I wish to visit in-laws who live in a northern suburb, I drive from my western suburb rather than bicycle 45 kilometres or take a bus, two subway trains, and two other buses, whilst paying fares to three transit authorities.