Obligatory National Cycling License (A Modest Proposal)

World Streets, together with a number of our readers and supporters, including city cyclists and others working in the sector, UK cyclist traffichave decided to take a public position on obligatory National Cycling Licenses. And that around the world the appropriate agencies and legislative groups, city by city and country by country, will step forward one at a time and when they are ready to pass into their law a requirement that certain road users must take and pass a rigorous National Cycling License examination.

The examination should take place only after each future licensee will have already successfully completed a special course organized by the local bicycle groups to ensure full knowledge of and confidence of dealing with the challenges of the cycling environment in cities. [1]

It will not be required that cyclists be able to show this qualification(nor should it be!).  Rather it will be a legal requirement for all persons wishing to have a driver’s license for any form of motorized vehicle, including motorized two wheelers and drivers of cars and commercial vehicles.

Once the appropriate laws have been passed and the necessary courses and examinations put in place, the test and cycling qualification should be required for all persons presenting themselves either for a new license or renewal for a license earlier held.

It is also proposed that all motorists who have been ticketed for speeding, reckless driving, or any other specified driving or parking offenses be required to take and pass the cycling license test within one month of the date of the offense.

Prospective drivers with physical handicaps but who otherwise qualify for a driving license will also be tested appropriately to ensure that they too are fully prepared to do their part to ensure a safe environment for cyclists and indeed all street users.

The cost of organization and testing will be fully covered by those applying for the driving licenses.

And in closing (for now):

That you can imagine that when a  somewhat controversial project such as this is discussed in  expert circles with people who have  been involved in  developing and forwarding the sector for some time,  there will always be  a number of critical ideas which  may run against  the basic concept as outlined here.   That is not only  perfectly normal but also  desirable and necessary.   That said,  I do not think that  the moment someone comes up with an accurate contrary idea  that the appropriate response is to raise the white flag and go back to bed.   But let us see how all this looks when it has gone around the virtual block a couple of times .

# # #

We now would like to seek your comments, suggestions and eventual approval or disapproval of this idea.

  • In all cases we would ask you to indicate your city and country under the Comments section.
  • It would be particularly appreciated if you disagree with the proposal that you sketch the grounds of your views in the Comments section.
  • Finally, if you have any good references on this, they too would be appreciated under the Comments.

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Some First Round Comments:

Nicolas Igersheim, France

A good idea indeed, to increase the awareness of drivers towards cyclists.

In the same frame of mind, La Ville à Vélo is planning to approach driving schools about the importance of respecting bicycle lanes.
http://www.lavilleavelo.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1323&hilit=%C3%A9cole 

Sorry for the French, but the pictures speak for themselves…

# # #

Mark Lobjoit 

While I have often though this would be a good idea in principle, I think it would be a disaster in practice.

In particular, I think most people would miss the point and it would be almost impossible to introduce it in such a way that it would not become a requirement for cyclists, while not being a requirement for the groups it is intended to target.

There is a large group of anti-cyclists who already take the view that cyclists should be licensed and insured if they wish to use the road at all. This group would easily hijack such a proposal.

You won’t win these people’s hearts and minds by trying to force them into something they are prejudiced against.

# #  #

Michael Paulson, USA

if something like this happen in the in the states, cyclist would be in a uproar.

# # #

Robert Coalson, USA

“The proposal is for motor vehicle drivers to get this licence in order to be able to drive a car. “It will not be required that cyclists be able to show this qualification. Rather it will be a legal requirement for all persons wishing to have a driver’s license for any form of motorized vehicle, including motorized two wheelers and drivers of cars and commercial vehicles.”

# # #

Steve Tracy davisbicycles.org. USA

This is a brilliant idea! But uproar? Not an angry one. Oh, we’d be dancing in the streets, for sure, but making a joyful noise.

This post has to be read carefully, down to “It will not be required that cyclists…” Thanks for this posting, Eric.

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Friso Metz, KpVV, The Netherlands

I like the idea that car drivers get used more with the cyclist perspective on streets and traffic. But by making this on obligation, will definitely make it feel like a punishment, which again makes cycling feel bad for petrol heads.

Why not give traffic violators an option:

 A) pay the fine
B) take part in a cycling training for one day

In this way, the cycling training is an escape from the penalty and car drivers feel better about it.

# # #

Nick Cutter

It amazes me that cyclists don’t need to know the road rules.

  • They don’t need a license.
  • They cannot lose a license or points from a license they do not have.
  • Cyclist do not have third party insurance for any accident they may cause.
  • Cyclists don’t need their vehicle to be roadworthy.
  • Cyclist don’t need to have their vehicle registered, therefore no identification of road abusers.
  • Cyclists can be any age.
  • Cyclists don’t have any kind of eye testing before getting a license they don’t have. . .

# # #

PS. As surely you have understood, the idea here is to encourage discussion around what is after all an important issue.  And by and large one that has escaped the present range of proposed solutions.  So let’s toss it out, blow the whistle and see what it gets. Unless of course you prefer silence.

eb-abount the editor - 26may14 white

 

 

[1] As an example of best practice, Dutch motorists are trained for interaction with cyclists as part of their driver training when going for their driver’s licence. For example, trainee motorists are trained to check and re-check their right-hand side for cyclists before making a turn to the right. But this proposal moves well beyond that.

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10 thoughts on “Obligatory National Cycling License (A Modest Proposal)

  1. This is a brilliant idea! But uproar? Not an angry one. Oh, we’d be dancing in the streets, for sure, but making a joyful noise. This post has to be read carefully, down to “It will not be required that cyclists…” Thanks for this posting, Eric.

    Reply
  2. I like the idea that car drivers get used more with the cyclist perspective on streets and traffic. But by making this on obligation, will definitely make it feel like a punishment, which again makes cycling feel bad for petrol heads.

    Why not give traffic violators an option:
    A) pay the fine
    B) take part in a cycling training for one day

    In this way, the cycling training is an escape from the penalty and car drivers feel better about it.

    Reply
    • Thank you for that good Idea Friso. These are these kinds of responses that I was in fact fishing for.

      I could live with that quite nicely, assuming that you have (a) draconian enforcement of misdemeanors, that (b) the fines are set at a high level, and that (c) upon successful completion of the course each driver received a diploma congratulating them on their new skills.

      Reply
  3. It amazes me that cyclists don’t need to know the road rules. They don’t need a license. They cannot lose a license or points from a license they do not have. Cyclist do not have third party insurance for any accident they may cause. Cyclists don’t need their vehicle to be roadworthy. Cyclist don’t need to have their vehicle registered, therefore no identification of road abusers. Cyclists can be any age. Cyclists don’t have any kind of eye testing before getting a license they don’t have.

    Reply
  4. What Friso Metz said! As it stands the proposal would be counterproductive. Even with Friso’s change, you’d be provoking a ton of reactionary anti-bike sentiment. Here in the US we already have lots of (perhaps mostly factitious) resentment of bicyclists as liberal elitists who want to take away everybody’s God-given freedom to drive a car as fast as they want wherever they want whenever they want (and free parking!). So I fear that even Friso’s modest policy might be counterproductive…

    Reply
  5. Maybe it would be a good idea not to call it “cycling license” but something else concerning the due respect to the most endangered road users? The term used here has spurred a lot of reactions and this is very useful if we want to take people out of their lairs, but I suspect it would be counterproductive if used in the real life…

    Reply

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