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Number plates (with particular relevance to motorcycles)

Comment 7th July 2010

It is currently illegal to build or import a motorbike with a front-mounted numberplate. This legislation was introduced for pedestrian safety, but there is increasingly an appreciation that it is impossible to eliminate risk, and undesirable to try. I propose that this law be repealed. I also propose that it be legal to manufacture and trade, not only to possess, old-style number plates, for pre-1973 vehicles.

Why does this matter?

What is achieved by this law is minimal, while it impacts upon the ability of British motorcycle manufacturers to produce designs in a classic British style; in an age when motorbikes are often selected for how they look, anything which inhibits a manufacturer's freedom to design a motorbike to look as they please ultimately inhibits his ability to produce a desirable product. In addition, I believe that any minor negative effects which repealing this legislation may have, would be matched by minor improvements in the ease of policing; such numberplates were a requirement prior to 1975 for this very reason.

As for the old-style car numberplates, it seems bizarre to ban their production while effectively admitting that they are fit for purpose, by allowing them to be retained on pre-1973 vehicles. If repealing this law created all of a dozen jobs, then it would still represent an improvement on the current situation.


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