Transport expert supports bicycle ID

The coming wave of electric bikes and scooters will create an overlap with bicycles that will put more pressure on cyclists to have ID plates or devices, a transport expert says.

Emeritus Professor of Transport Marcus Wigan says bicycles are legal transport and as such should be bound by the same features of ID as other vehicles using the roads.

His comments follow our recent article in which Tasmanian Motorcycle Council (TMC) called for free identification numbers, not registration, for cyclists over 18 so their traffic offences can be reported and riders fined.

Since publishing that article, the debate on our website and social media has been prolific. Click here for the full story.


Marcus says there are going to be “more and more overlaps (in speed capability) between bicycles and powered two-wheelers and hybrids such as ebikes and electric scooters”.

Even Harley-Davidson has announced a range of electric mountain bikes (photo at the top of the page) and scooters in the next few years.

Harley electric LiveWire ID
Harley electric scooter

“We need to deal with the blurring boundaries between different vehicles,” Marcus says.

“So the real question is not about approving of bicycle ID, it is when will we treat all vehicles and road users consistently?

“This is now a real issue.”

Marcus says he often sees bicycles exceed the speed limit in Albert St, East Melbourne, and asks why they should escape traffic offence notices.

Bike ID

He also pointed out that his words in a 2002 VicRoads paper are even more relevant now with the blurring of vehicle categories between bicycles and ebikes.

Marcus Wigan harassment
Marcus Wigan

Here is a slice of that text:

Vehicle identification is valuable for a range of official and personal purposes: registration, theft recovery and speed enforcement are the major ones. A range of alternatives to conventional rear number plates are considered, with special reference to bicycles and motorcycles. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Infrared Identification (IRID) barcodes and combinations of Geographical Positioning System (GPS)and GSM mobile telephone chips (GPS/GSM) approaches are considered and discussed. While it is still premature to move to automated remote identification systems, barcodes and short range RFID systems alone or in combination offer genuine advantages for vulnerable road users, especially for theft protection, and to the Police for identity verification. Trials of the latter hybrid methods in combination are suggested, and careful consideration of the trust and surveillance aspects of potentially continuous tracking system be undertaken, and the developments widely consulted over  before progress can be made on the deployment of widespread automated remote identification. However short range RFID tags deployed to verify vehicle identity for theft and other purposes may prove to me an effective first step towards automated remote identification systems.


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