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Bill seeks maximum jail term of 14 years for cyclists convicted of causing death by dangerous cycling

South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom’s ‘dangerous cycling’ private member’s bill missed receiving a second reading in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon. Although it was on the order paper, it was well down the list, and as it turned out only the Daylight Savings Bill was debated in the chamber. National Cyclists' organsiation CTC told road.cc it believed there was next to no chance of the bill reaching the statute books during the current parliamentary session.

CTC is however vigilant about an attempt being made to tack the proposed reforms contained in the bill onto some other piece of legislation, with a spokesman telling road.cc: "Our real concern is to ensure that its proposals are not included as an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

The spokesman added however that since that bill was now in Committee stage at the House of Lords, they did not consider that possibility "a major risk."

Conservative backbencher Mrs Leadsom introduced her Dangerous and Reckless Cycling (Offences) Bill, which among other things calls for the introduction of a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling, with a proposed maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, under the ten-minute rule in March last year.

Part of the motivation for the bill was the case of 17-year-old Rhiannon Bennett, who died from head injuries received when she was struck by a cyclist in Buckingham in 2008.

The cyclist in that case, Jason Howard, was fined £2,200 after being convicted of dangerous cycling, although a police officer involved in the case told the BBC that officers believed the teenager was standing on the road, rather than the pavement, when the collision took place.

Her parents have since campaigned for legislation similar to that contemplated by Mrs Leadsom’s bill to be introduced, and the MP herself has highlighted the case as one to which her proposed legislation could apply.

Last year, Road Safety Minister Mike Penning told the Guardian that the Department for Transport would “consider the merits of the proposed Dangerous and Reckless Cycling Bill in consultation with the Ministry of Justice."

Currently, a cyclist cannot be handed a custodial sentence if convicted of a charge of dangerous cycling; however, they can receive a jail term if found guilty of "wanton and furious driving," since the term "driving" can be applied to bicycles.

National cyclists’ organisation CTC has consistently opposed Ms Leadsom’s bill, pointing out that in recent years only two jail sentences have been handed down to cyclists convicted of causing the death of pedestrians.

Instead, it has called on the authorities to make greater efforts to enforce legislation against motorists, with motor vehicles responsible for the deaths of hundreds of vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians each year but drivers escaping prosecution in many cases. 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.