New law to introduce 'dangerous cycling' offence

16/05/2024
Dominic Browne

The Government plans to introduce a new law to ensure that cyclists 'who kill or seriously injure because of dangerous cycling, or who kill through careless cycling, face the same penalties as drivers and motorcyclists'.

Ministers have backed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, put forward by Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, to introduce an ‘offence of causing death by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, and causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate cycling’.

The Government amendment will be brought forward as the Bill enters the House of Lords.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: 'Most cyclists, like most drivers, are responsible and considerate. But it’s only right that the tiny minority who recklessly disregard others face the full weight of the law for doing so.

'Just like car drivers who flout the law, we are backing this legislation introducing new offences around dangerous cycling. These new measures will help protect law-abiding cyclists, pedestrians and other road users, whilst ensuring justice is done.'

Currently, cyclists who breach the speed limit may not be prosecuted for a speeding offence but they can be prosecuted for 'cycling furiously' or 'wanton and furious cycling', Slater and Gordon Lawyers advise.

A cyclist cannot be actually stopped for 'wanton and furious cycling' in itself, however, as the offence only applies if an injury is suffered.

It is also possible for local bylaws to impose speed limits on cyclists, for instance, Hampstead Heath in London has an 8mph speed limit for cyclists, and in Richmond Park a 20mph limit also applies to cyclists.

The Government's plans, which had seemed to be shelved, date back to at least 2017, when the Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned legal experts to consider the case for new cycling offences.

It followed the death of Kim Briggs, who sustained ‘catastrophic’ head injuries due to a collision with cyclist Charlie Alliston.

Alliston was sentenced to 18 months detention in a young offender’s institution for the offence of 'wanton or furious driving or other misconduct'.

Following this case, legal experts advised there was 'a persuasive case for legislative change to the law', DfT officials said.

The DfT then published a new cycling offences consultation in 2018, which received 2,436 responses and considered the case for the change in legislation.

Asked whether there should be an offence of causing death by dangerous cycling - overall, 53% responded ‘no’: 66% who said they cycled responded ‘no’ and 89% who said they did not cycle responded ‘yes’.

Cycling ambassador and former Olympic champion Chris Boardman told the BBC: 'There are more people killed by lightning and cows [than cyclists]. Absolutely everybody should obey the laws of the road but I am frustrated that something so good for society and so joyous is getting so much focus in a negative way...30,000 people are killed or seriously injured on our roads every year and less than three involving a cyclist [offence].' 

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