Cyclists who kill pedestrians may face similar charges to dangerous drivers under proposed new legislation however, campaigners stress that attention should be spent on motorists who kill.
A 12-week consultation has been opened by the Department for Transport to discuss introducing new offences to protect pedestrians from dangerous cyclists. The laws are being proposed after Kim Briggs, a 44-year-old mother, was killed in February 2016, by a cyclist on a fixed gear bike with no front breaks travelling 18 miles per hour.
There is currently no cycling equivalent to the offence “causing death by dangerous driving” which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment. Some commentators have said this demonstrates that the current legislation needs updating. The cyclist in this case was found guilty of the Victorian Offence of causing bodily harm by “wanton and furious driving” under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This was originally used to deal with reckless drivers of horse-drawn carriages and carries a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
On the other hand, campaigners have urged the Government to direct their efforts on tackling dangerous drivers based on 2016 figures showing that 448 pedestrians were killed on the roads in Britain and only 3 of these cases involved bicycles. Furthermore, it is estimated that 99.4% of all pedestrian deaths over the past 10 years involved a motor vehicle. The Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, Duncan Dollimore, said: “Adding one or two new offences specific to cyclists would be merely tinkering around the edges.” and “If the government is serious about addressing behaviour that puts others at risk on our roads, they should grasp the opportunity to do the job properly, rather than attempt to patch up an area of legislation that’s simply not working.”
The Department for Transport has also confirmed that the Government is considering a review of the Highway Code to address motorists passing too close to cyclists. These and other measures are designed to protect “vulnerable road users” whilst supporting the benefits that cycling and walking provides our communities.
The consultation closes on 5 November 2018 and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-cycling-offences-causing-death-or-serious-injury-when-cycling.
If you would like further information, please contact a member of our regulatory team on 01254 828300.