After being kicked and abused by a woman cycling on pavement, Prof Robert Winston calls for obligatory plates on all bikes in London.

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Fertility specialist Prof Robert Winston was walking on the pavement in central London when he encountered a woman on a bike. After he mentioned that she should not be cycling on the pavement, the woman seized his mobile phone, tried to damage it and then assaulted Mr Winston with a couple of well-aimed kicks.

When bicycles first appeared on British highways, Parliament found it convenient to categorise them as other vehicles of the day – namely horse-drawn carriages.

Following the incident, the angry cyclist left the scene and the professor found himself on the ground. Despite the presence of a handful of witnesses, Mr Winston gave up the option to report the woman to the police because he would not be able to identify her.

Such incidents usually trigger a demand for retaliatory measures, and in this case it was no different. Mr Winston asked a question in the House of Lords in order to learn what steps the government made regarding licensing of cyclists in central London. He stated that most cyclists ride safely, however, the number of aggressive and abusive cyclists has increased recently. He added that there are cases of collisions with pedestrians or even hurting them on purpose, and therefore the bicycles allowed to ride in central London should be fitted with plates enabling easy identification.

The reality is that pedestrians and drivers have to share our public space with many hazards that aren’t licenced or insured, and many of them aren’t as conscientious, or predictable, as cyclists. © Profimedia, Alamy

The idea of licensing is nothing new in the city, but it was dismissed as impractical, pointless and unusual, as there is no country where licensing of common bikes is required.

The most frequently mentioned argument opposing Mr Winston’s proposal is that the costs of the licensing scheme would either discourage many from cycling or increase public subsidies. Some people even commented that if there are cases of people throwing away cigarette butts, should all pedestrians wear dog tags? Let us know what you think.

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