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Peer wants number plates for cyclists after attack

The Week logo The Week 29/03/2019 Chas Newkey-Burden

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Watch: Lord Robert Winston demands licence plates for cyclists (Evening Standard)

Lord Winston, the fertility expert and peer, has said cyclists should be forced to carry number plates after he was attacked by a woman he had challenged for speeding past him on the pavement.

The 78-year-old member of the House of Lords said that the woman repeatedly kicked him after he spoke to her in Bloomsbury, central London, on Wednesday.

Lord Robert Winston © Getty Lord Robert Winston “I went up to her and told her very politely that it was against the law to cycle on the pavement and it was dangerous,” he said.

He said he expected her to “apologise and walk off” but she became very “aggressive and was swearing”. 

Lord Winston added: “She snatched the telephone out of my hand and then threw it into the road. She then kicked me repeatedly.” 

He says the encounter left him “sore and shocked”. Minutes later a second cyclist passed him at “great speed” going the wrong way down a one-way street before being blocked by pedestrians.

a person riding a bicycle on a busy street © Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited The encounter came days after he spoke out in the House of Lords about “extremely aggressive” cycling. 

Now he is considering a private member’s bill. “The requirement for number plates would mean cyclists who are blatantly breaking the law can be identified,” he said. “I think it could prevent some of the lawlessness and some of the aggressiveness.”

He also believes they should be required to take out third-party insurance should also be considered.

In a letter to The Times, he wrote: “Most cyclists are responsible and conscientious but regrettably an increasing minority are very aggressive and break the law with impunity.”

Cycling groups opposed the suggestion. Roger Geffen, policy director at the charity Cycling UK, said a licensing system would “either massively deter cyclists or be a massive cost burden” to the government.

In 2017 four pedestrians were killed by cyclists, 130 were seriously injured and 372 slightly injured.

Charlie Alliston was jailed for killing a pedestrian as he rode through east London at 18mph on a bike with no front brakes. Last year a judge described cyclists who rode on pavements as “potential killers”. 

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