Skip to main content

Cycling: Licensing

Question for Department for Transport

UIN HL3851, tabled on 24 November 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the possible advantages and disadvantages of licensing bicyclists.

Answered on

4 December 2015

We consider that the costs of a formal testing and licensing system for cyclists would significantly outweigh the benefits cycling has to the country’s economy, health and environment. Evidence suggests that increased cycling could create significant savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and a happier and healthier population. It is likely that a licensing system will discourage many existing and potential cyclists, leading to a dramatic fall in the numbers of people cycling.

Around 80% of adult cyclists also hold driving licenses, meaning that the majority of cyclists on the road have already been tested on operating safely in different road and traffic conditions. Furthermore, the safety case for a testing/licensing system is not as strong as that for drivers since, by contrast with motorised vehicles, bicycles involved in collisions on the highway are highly unlikely to cause serious injury to other road users.

Cyclists as well as all road users must obey the Highway Code, and the Government has provided funding for training schemes such as Bikeability which provides practical training and teaches the Highway Code to the next generation of cyclists. The Bikeability programme currently trains approximately 50% of primary schoolchildren in England and more than 1.5million children have received training since the programme’s inception.

The recent Spending Review committed £300m to cycling investment between 2015-16 and 2020-21, this includes delivering in full the £114 million Cycle Ambition City scheme, with construction of segregated cycle lanes including 115 kilometres in Birmingham and 56 kilometres in Manchester.