Harley electric bicycle LiveWire ID specs
Harley electric mountain bike

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.

  1. They get to ‘escape traffic offence notices’ because they don’t have identifying particulars – so what? They also might die if they get hit by a car, they get wet if it’s raining, they get taunted by other vehicles and constantly reminded of their vulnerability, hills obviously suck too, in fact, they’re pretty much having a shit time out there altogether.
    There are pro’s and cons for any method of transport and if they weren’t on a bike, they’d be another car on the road, in the way, polluting or whatever, but instead they’re on bikes and all they get in exchange for their efforts is a bit of cardio and a better ‘chance’ at avoiding the occasional fine.

    I bet he’s also looking at possible ways to recoup the couple of minutes these cyclists are unfairly gaining as they speed across the city…
    Bikes have evolved into eBikes, but he’s too busy trotting around on his ‘high horse’

  2. This is just a means to lead into getting reggo for bicycles
    once we start the ID process we will need to eventually pay for the cost of administration
    There is heaps of revenue gathered and wasted already why should we pay more
    Surely those on push bike are not travelling fast they cant be caught and fined if required
    Just adding to the police state I think

  3. The Tasmanian example quoted here sure looks like a solution looking for a problem.
    Is there a huge bicycle theft problem in Tassie or is every cyclist running red lights in Hobart?
    For those that don’t know, many cycling organisations have ID available for their member’s bikes and membership includes public liability insurance. The Police have the powers to deal with speeding and dangerous riding, whether that is human-power, electric power or a motorcycle, so let them do their job.

    Ride safe guys.

  4. I don’t understand why the fuss about e-bikes. They are limited to 25kph which is quite a bit slower than any reasonable road rider averages. They should be treated the same as any other bicycle – nothing special about them at all.

    I agree that some cyclists ignore the road rules but I see way more car drivers doing stupid and illegal stuff every day. If you want to pick on cyclists then first get our driving standards out of the 3rd world level they have become. If you want to see how to make the roads work efficiently go to Germany, Austria or Switzerland – where driving skills are infinitely better except for the tourists.

    And yes – I drive cars, ride motorcycles and bicycles.

    1. well said Tony, indeed a voice of reason. It is a sad reflection upon our country, that we have such poor driving standards in comparison to some of our European counterparts.

  5. No, No a thousand times NO! We are over controlled and over regulated by those that would rule us. As motorcycle riders, used to the jackboot of officialdom and negative press, we should defend our treddly mates from such control – and unnecessary spiraling cost. Cyclists are not the villains here – it’s those faceless bureaucrats out of ideas to raise more more revenue to sustain their bloated lives and exert more control on all of us. Freedom – if you are prepared to give it up, you don’t deserve it in the first place!

    1. I disagree. Cyclist have no business being on roads with speed limits above 50kmh.
      Having said that far more bike/pedestrian path need to be build

  6. Why is your publication so intent on creating argument among two wheel road users. You know very well that somehow cyclists can ride anywhere else in the world without hearing these mickey mouse ideas being thrown out on slow news days.

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