A group of MPs has warned that the justice system is failing to protect cyclists, resulting in ‘a feeling of lawlessness and aggression’ that deters people from taking to two wheels.
In a new report on Cycling and the Justice System, the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) says dangerous and inconsiderate driving is going unchecked while the victims of crashes are being let down.
The report highlights what it calls "a collapse in the number of drivers disqualified from driving", with up to a third of drivers who receive 12 points or more on their licences escaping disqualification by pleading ‘exceptional hardship’ in court.
While the report states that cyclists are "too often" the victims, it acknowledges that "in a few cases they are also the perpetrators of road crime".
It recommends "stronger legal grounding for a hierarchy of road users, in which children, pedestrians and people with disabilities take the highest priority, followed by cyclists, and finally drivers of vehicles".
APPCG co-chair Ruth Cadbury MP said, "The evidence we have heard during our inquiry is truly shocking.
"Threatening behaviour by vehicle drivers towards more vulnerable road users who are on bikes and on foot is routinely tolerated and rarely punished; our roads police are under-resourced; and people who have flagrantly and habitually flouted the law are allowed to continue being a menace on our roads."
Among other recommendations, the APPCG called for the Highway Code to give clearer priority to cyclists and other vulnerable road users, for roads policing to be given a higher priority and a higher standard of accident investigation, and for the Ministry of Justice to examine the reasons behind the decline in disqualification.