Do you need a licence plate for a bicycle or e-scooter?


The ongoing debate surrounding the idea of affixing number plates to bicycles has once again been raised, talks started back in 2017 when Halfords ran a poll to reveal that 59% of respondents voted in favour for bicycles to having number plates.  Moving forward to 2022, Grant Shapps, who was then the transport secretary, found himself retracting a suggestion to support bicycle number plates as a means of identifying cyclists for enforcing traffic rules.


Then in June 2023, the Italian government, led by Minister Matteo Salvini, further ignited the controversy by proposing that all cyclists must wear helmets, display number plates and indicators, also in addition to securing insurance. However, following a considerable public backlash, Salvini backtracked these plans and stated it would only apply to scooters.



Lord Hogan-Howe, former Met Police chief, raised the topic during a House of Lords debate on regulating London's pedicabs. He suggested similar regulations for bicycles, including the introduction of number plates, to ensure accountability when cyclists disregard safety measures, which can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Despite his straightforward rationale, this suggestion may not gain unanimous support, but as we all know past proposals have often been withdrawn or modified.



Former Conservative minister Lord Blencathra raised a debate which took a detour by diverted his attention to the issue of e-scooters. He proposed an amendment to ban all e-scooters in England from public highways, including pavements, advocating police powers to confiscate any found in use on public roads. He further called for an immediate cessation of all rental e-scooter trials and stricter penalties for cyclists on pavements, particularly commercial couriers.


Jessica Morden, Labour MP, raised a debate on e-scooters back in December 2022, stating “The rise of the e-scooter has been a worldwide phenomenon. The global market for the product has been valued at more than £15 billion a year and it has made its mark in the UK in recent years. It is estimated that there are now 750,000 private e-scooters in use in the UK, with the majority being used illegally. The Bicycle Association suggests that as many as 360,000 were purchased in 2020 alone, and we can expect further growth in their use and sales in the UK in the years to come.


E-scooters are rightly classed as motor vehicles when they are legally used in trial areas, which means that the rules that apply to motor vehicles also apply to e-scooters, including the need to have a licence, insurance, and tax. Now, you cannot get insurance for privately owned e-scooters and as such you would not be eligible to make an accident or injury claim if you were involved in an incident while riding unlawfully on public roads. The Association of British Insurers has highlighted that, if uninsured e-scooter users cause collisions or injury, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau must pick up the liability for these claims. The MIB reports that it is already seeing a growing number of claims from the illegal use of e-scooters and there is the potential to incur significant costs, which ultimately may lead to increases in motor insurance premiums for other motorists, which is an unfair situation”.


As this debate continues the crucial questions remain up in the air:

Should bicycles & e-scooters adhere to the same lawful standards as motorised vehicles?

Should cyclists be subject to road tax and insurance requirements?




These discussions rely heavily on the public's input in shaping the trajectory of this debate. Individuals are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions on these topics via email or social media channels as the ongoing dialogue that seeks to strike a balance between safety, accountability, and the practicality of regulating non-motorised modes of transportation in urban environments. The fate of bicycle number plates is still hanging in the balance as we await the collective voice of the people to guide its direction.


Currently, you DO NOT need a licence plate on a bicycle or e-scooter.

However who knows when the next debate will take place - watch this space…………..


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