GEORGE TOWN, Sept 17 — Licensing bicycles will only discourage people from taking up the sport, a Penang cyclist group said today following a proposal from the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (Miros) to improve road safety.
Penang G Cyclists Group chairman Datuk Lim Seh Guan said making it compulsory for bicycles to have registration plates will not ensure the safety of riders but instead, will inconvenience cyclists.
“How can putting licence plates on bicycles ensure the safety of its riders? This does not make any sense at all,” he said, especially when cycling was being encouraged as a greener and healthier lifestyle.
He said the only valid reasons for bicycles to be licensed and issued registration plates was to track the owners in cases of bicycle theft.
“If the bicycle is stolen, it can be tracked from its registration plates but it would not be any use either if they were to take it apart and sell the parts,” Lim said.
He said in Japan, the bicycles there were registered but it was to track the owners as bicycles were used as one of the main modes of transport in that country.
“Sometimes the bicycle owners would leave their bicycles on a sidewalk for days and the authorities would use the registration to track them and ask them to remove their bicycles,” he said.
He said the situation is entirely different in Malaysia as most cyclists are recreational cyclists and they do not abandon their bicycles in public spaces.
Lim’s remarks echoed an earlier tweet by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican last night in response to Miros’ proposal.
However, the Penang Consumer Protection Association is fully supportive of the proposal to license bicycles.
President Datuk K. Koris Atan said bicycles used to have license plates over 40 years ago and this can be brought back now.
“Cyclists need to be regularised and their bicycles checked to ensure their bicycles are safe for cycling in public areas,” he said.
He said the authorities will need to reach out to rural areas and make it convenient for everyone, particularly those in the lower income group, to register and license their bicycles.
“They should go into rural areas to get the bicycles registered and check their light and tyres to make sure their bicycles are safe to use, these are poor people, so they should not be charged a fee to apply for the licence,” he said.
He said cyclists must also be held accountable especially when they speed in public parks and along shared paths with pedestrians.
“We see cyclists whizzing by, sometimes faster than motorcycles, so they should have license plates to hold them accountable if they were to knock down someone,” he said.
He said he cycled to school daily when he was in school many decades ago and at that time, all bicycles were required to have license plates.
“The authorities were very strict at that time, we must get license plates for our bicycles and certain bicycles were not allowed to take passengers,” he said.
He said he was once stopped by the police for taking his brother from school on his bicycle back then.
Koris said the government can organise talks and give cyclists a timeframe to register their bicycles if they were to implement this requirement.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong has issued a statement to stress that the proposal by MIROS was never discussed with his ministry.
He also denied any plans to implement the proposal and denied knowledge of the proposal.