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Registration, higher fines and confiscation: Swiss proposal to treat cyclists like motorists draws ire

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Registration, higher fines and confiscation: Swiss proposal to treat cyclists like motorists draws ire
Photo: ODD ANDERSEN / AFP
10:43 CEST+02:00
A proposal by tabled in the Swiss National Council which seeks to target disobedient cyclists by handing out the same punishments as those for motorists has drawn criticism from pro-cycling groups and members of mainstream Swiss political parties.

The proposal - tabled by SVP (Swiss Peoples Party) representative Gregor Rutz - includes increasing fines for cycling infringements to the same level as for motorists. 

Under the proposal, police are to be provided with the power to confiscate bicycles from guilty cyclists, requiring them to complete training courses in order to receive their bikes back. 

There is also a plan for bikes to carry compulsory identification stickers in a manner reminiscent of motor vehicle registration. 

‘Encouraged to break the rules’

National Council representative Gregor Rutz told the NZZ Am Sonntag that cyclists frequently flaunt the law in a manner which is dangerous for pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists. 

“Cyclists regularly ignore red lights, one-way streets and enter areas forbidden to traffic” Rutz said. 

Rutz, a member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, said that the current rules - compiled with a lack of enforcement - acted as an incentive for cyclists to act irresponsibly. 

“Cyclists are almost being encouraged to break the rules”, Rutz said. 

Rutz - along with nine further members of the Swiss People’s Party - has put together a package of measures to target disobedient cyclists, who are known colloquially as ‘Velorowdys’ (rowdy bikers) in Switzerland. 

Rutz hopes that the measures will be put in place at the federal, canton and local levels in order to tackle the perceived problem across the country. 

Motorists more often to blame

Another member of the National Council, Matthias Aebischer of the Social Democrats, has criticized the proposal - saying that motorists are more often to blame than cyclists and that the focus should be on giving cyclists greater protection. 

Aebischer, who is also the President of cycling interest group Pro Velo, says that in more than half of all collisions, the cyclists are not to blame. 

Aebischer did however say that there was an obligation upon cyclists to improve their conduct for the benefit of all road users. 

“The way some cyclists behave is just not good enough”, Aebischer said. 

Aebischer argued that training and education - both for cyclists and motorists - was the best way to improve cyclist behaviour and make the roads safer for all. 

 

 
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