Updated: MP's 'Dangerous Cycling' bill fails to get second reading in House of Commons

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

by Simon_MacMichael   January 20, 2012  

Palace Of Westminster At Night © Andrew Dunn.jpg

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. 

29 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

whoppeee ... lets attack another soft target - barstewards.
Perhaps I should sell my bikes, get a Z4 instead ...

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [679 posts]
20th January 2012 - 14:39

like this
Like (2)

Sorry - it might take things a little O/T - but frankly every time I read about these posturing jack-asses in Westminster my urge for all these things to be decided in a Parliament actually accountable to the electorate grows

If the frozen north does break away, I doubt it'll suddenly become a cyclists paradise (there will still be hills, mountains & horizontal sleet ofc) - but I just pray there will be a little more common sense

posted by mad_scot_rider [537 posts]
20th January 2012 - 15:32

like this
Like (5)

"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" cannot be applied to bicycles."

This doesn't make sense as it stands. Can you clarify?

posted by Sam Saunders [20 posts]
20th January 2012 - 16:00

like this
Like (2)

Sam Saunders wrote:

"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" cannot be applied to bicycles."

This doesn't make sense as it stands. Can you clarify?

It means it all depend on what the Police/CPS charge a cyclist with after an incident.
"Wanton and furious driving" = Could be prison
"Dangerous Cycling" = Only can be a fine

So we already have most of what Andrea Leadsom wants.

It's a bit like the introduction of the offence of "driving while using a hand held moble phone" which was already covered under "driving without due care and attention".
As a backbench MP you have to have a campaign to get in your local paper showing what you are doing at Westminster. Sigh

posted by thereverent [296 posts]
20th January 2012 - 16:27

like this
Like (4)

I'll campaign for cyclists to get jail terms for causing death on the roads when motorists get the same. The recent tragic case of Rob Jefferies (someone I knew well) being case in point: driver got an £85 fine and 200hrs community service.

posted by crazy-legs [486 posts]
20th January 2012 - 16:28

like this
Like (3)

crazy-legs wrote:
I'll campaign for cyclists to get jail terms for causing death on the roads when motorists get the same.

Hear hear!

How come cyclists are being targeted out for custodial sentences when most drivers get off with a fine and penalty points.
Makes no sense when you consider that the the number of pedestrians killed by cyclists is minute when compared with the number of deaths of vulnerable road users (cyclists, pedestrians etc.) caused by motor vehicles.

posted by SevenHills [143 posts]
20th January 2012 - 16:34

like this
Like (3)

If this is put into statute, where there is no intermediate measure (e.g. points / license suspension) then I suspect we'll find the courts will be harsher on cyclists rather than motorists. The current legislation seems to accept that death to other road-users from motoring incidents is almost 'incidental' and often has no bearing on the sentences given.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
20th January 2012 - 18:05

like this
Like (4)

From:

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/dangerousandrecklesscyclingo...

Latest news on the Bill

The Bill was not moved for debate on 20 January 2012. The order to read the Bill a second time lapsed. There is no indication when the Bill will progress further.

The Bill had its first reading on 22 March 2011 through the Ten Minute Rule procedure.

If you require any further information about the Bill then please contact the sponsor Andea Leadsom.

I wouldn't mind so much if a) errant drivers were prosecuted more effectively (with whatever changes are needed to get over the careless vs dangerous driving issue) and b) she wasn't such a frigging muppet peddling incorrect information about the original incident as fact.

posted by JonD [177 posts]
20th January 2012 - 18:13

like this
Like (2)

JonD wrote:
The Bill was not moved for debate on 20 January 2012. The order to read the Bill a second time lapsed. There is no indication when the Bill will progress further......

I wouldn't mind so much if ... she wasn't such a frigging muppet peddling incorrect information about the original incident as fact.

Good. Wicked witch gone away for now.

It wouldn't be so bad if she hadn't based her hissy fit on an incident that could have been characterised as "drunk teenager killed by cyclist while staggering about on the road", according to all the reports I've read.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
20th January 2012 - 19:06

like this
Like (3)

Prosecute cyclists? I was cycling home tonight in the cycle lane, with my LED lights on front and rear, high viz jacket helmet etc, you get the idea (compliant); when an idiot turned off the road and decided to do a U-turn using the cycle lane. I braked suddenly, and thankfully managed to stop when my front wheel slammed into the side of his car. Dazed, I gathered my thoughts only to be verbally abused by the driver for damaging his car!! If this law is passed, would it be the driver in the wrong or me? If I was seriously injured would he be prosecuted? No probably not!!

I do like to think I am a courtious cyclist at best abiding by the highway code, but even I find myself getting frustrated more and more. Cyclists clearly are getting the shitty end of the stick, even if this law passes. Rant rant rant......enough said! Crying

posted by Andrew Pengelly [2 posts]
21st January 2012 - 0:01

like this
Like (3)

Glad it's been thrown out. Maybe this sort of bill has been re-appearing for the past 100 years but I do feel the road sharing battle is slowly building towards a resolution. I'm working at present to get two road junctions traffic calmed to encourage local children to cycle to school. It will cause all sorts of trouble with the locals - who feel the roads are too dangerous for children to cycle on - mainly because they themselves don't want to abide by the speed limit! Bizarre but I really believe it can and will change.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1031 posts]
21st January 2012 - 0:12

like this
Like (3)

This bizzum is only wanting to get a name for herself and to be 'seen' doing something that will ensure her getting votes. Cynical yeah but sadly true. There are laws in place that can be applied and as archaic that wanton and dangerous driving sounds, it is there. We all know that more pedestrians are killed on footways by motorists than cyclists yet the system will usually charge the motorist with death by careless driving. This cheapens life and it is time that the system has the one charge of manslaughter whenever a motorist takes a life. As for cyclists taking a pedestrians life, well that by all accounts will be the ninjas who are clueless about the highway code and are deserving of the wanton and furious charge whatever they do!

@ sam the driving bit refers to the horse and carriage. And I think the original law makers considered cyclists as drivers. In a way making them equal to other road users.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
21st January 2012 - 1:00

like this
Like (2)

I'm all for it as long as motorists get the same penalties for committing the same sorts of crimes. If not, it's just a way for people to demonize and imprison cyclists for what motorists get a slap on the wrist for.

posted by Ian Brett Cooper [6 posts]
21st January 2012 - 1:09

like this
Like (2)

Sam Saunders wrote:
"...since the term "driving" cannot be applied to bicycles."

Actually, 'driving' applies more correctly to cycling - you actually 'drive' the bike because you are its engine. Motorists actually merely 'steer' cars.

posted by Ian Brett Cooper [6 posts]
21st January 2012 - 1:12

like this
Like (4)

Sam Saunders wrote:
This doesn't make sense as it stands. Can you clarify?

Should have read "can." Sorry for confusion.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7925 posts]
21st January 2012 - 1:24

like this
Like (5)

i wonder how the family and friends of rob jeffries would feel about this proposed bill.

posted by pj [138 posts]
21st January 2012 - 8:25

like this
Like (5)

At Wits End So Max 14 years for a cyclist killed a pedestrian but a slap on the wrist for a driver killing a cyclist (as many previous cases have shown). Anyone else feel we have stepped through the looking glass?

Angelfishsolo's picture

posted by Angelfishsolo [104 posts]
21st January 2012 - 9:25

like this
Like (3)

What about the danger pedestrians themselves pose to cyclists? I suffered a serious head injury last April after slamming into a pedestrian who stepped into the road without looking - he escaped unharmed. I feel as though, cycling through London every day, I spend almost as much time dodging idiotic pedestrians as I do dealing with incompetent drivers.

Will they also introduce a 'dangerous walking' bill?

posted by ortonangel [13 posts]
21st January 2012 - 10:58

like this
Like (4)

Was looking this case up on the internet trying to find an authoritative source for whether the victim was on the pavement or the road. Found lots of newspaper articles about the case before sentance was passed i.e. when it was thought that a cyclist had killed a pedestrian on the pavement. However the press did not seem so keen to report the, "was she on the road or not or not" question! I did find this blog though; The author quotes the MP as saying,

"Imagine if a motorist had mounted the pavement and killed a schoolgirl as she chatted to her friends.

"The motorist would have felt the full force of the law and there would have been a national outcry if such a person had walked away with a fine."

A list of incidents where people have been killed by motorists on pavements and on road with much smaller fines or no fine at all follows...
http://ladyjulian.livejournal.com/85094.html

If only there was a national outcry; I think too many don't give a s**t unless it happens to them...and then they want to bring back hanging etc.

posted by SideBurn [764 posts]
21st January 2012 - 11:10

like this
Like (3)

Hi there, Things get worse in Cheshire. When a woman driving out of of side road straight at me, I yelled which startled her so I didn't get hit, she blamed me for everything under the sun, no helmet, she pays Road Tax et al. She then drove straight at me whilst I stood in front of her car. I rode off, only for her to streak past me, phone the Bizzies, whereupon I then found out that Cheshire Police have a policy of giving "Protected Status" to a woman in a car, even to the point of not letting me state my version of events? So a 62 yearold crock on a trike is the real villain against a lawbreaking woman in 1 ton of steel! I face arrest for asking to be allowed to speak? In future I'll put my car in front of her, then "Draw the foul" as in basketball, then let her claim protection. TTFN MM

mersey mouth

posted by mersey mouth [7 posts]
21st January 2012 - 14:08

like this
Like (4)

I've no problem with the bill, as long as dangerous driving is treated equally!

Howl Like a Bianchi

HLaB's picture

posted by HLaB [54 posts]
21st January 2012 - 14:08

like this
Like (3)

JohnS wrote:
JonD wrote:
....I wouldn't mind so much if ... she wasn't such a frigging muppet peddling incorrect information about the original incident as fact.

...It wouldn't be so bad if she hadn't based her hissy fit on an incident that could have been characterised as "drunk teenager killed by cyclist while staggering about on the road", according to all the reports I've read.

Exactly, I have little doubt that had the incident involved a motorist that this would have been put-down as 'death by misadventure'.

The trouble is that Leadsom [who claims to be a keen cyclist, which in all probability means that she has a bike and has ridden it once] has set-out to make herself look stupid and has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams, but only cyclists and other sensible people can see it. I strongly suspect that she will push this arrant and egregious nonsense as hard as she can to 'prove herself' in-front of the dimwitted majority in Parliament who won't realise what complete fools they been shown to be.

posted by Recumbenteer [142 posts]
21st January 2012 - 18:00

like this
Like (3)

Re “wanton and furious driving”.

The wording of S35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948 (c. 58), s. 1(2)) is as follows:

“35. Drivers of carriages injuring persons by furious driving Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”

For instance, in 2009 supermarket worker Darren Hall was convicted of ‘wanton and furious driving’ after he had ridden on the pavement and hit and killed an 84-year old pedestrian. Hall was jailed for seven months and banned from driving a car for a year.

From BikeHub's 'Cycling and the law' article: http://www.bikehub.co.uk/featured-articles/cycling-and-the-law/

Disclosure: I wrote the article. Also has info on "cycling furiously".

Carlton Reid's picture

posted by Carlton Reid [108 posts]
21st January 2012 - 21:07

like this
Like (5)

Great that this stupid and unequal bill has been thrown out. The existing laws are quite sufficient for those rare instances when cyclists do injure pedestrians, and not vice versa, or as so often is the case a motorised vehicle driver injures a pedestrian or cyclist.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
22nd January 2012 - 0:11

like this
Like (3)

why was he banned from driving if he was cycling ? no licence needed.

posted by brandobiker [22 posts]
22nd January 2012 - 1:06

like this
Like (2)

"death by dangerous cycling, with a proposed maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment"

Has anyone, ever, done that much time for causing death by careless or dangerous driving?

I'd support this if there was an equally more serious sentances for careless + dangerous driving, but unfortunately I think that's highly unlikely to happen.

posted by james-o [188 posts]
22nd January 2012 - 19:01

like this
Like (4)

Some loon managed to kill 6 people whilst on a motorised pub crawl (R v Noble [2002] EWCA Crim 1713, [2003] 1 Cr App R (S) 312). Three in his own car and three in another. He tried to claim that one of his victims was driving...Of course his sentance was reduced to 10 but he was initially sentanced to 15! The Judge said it is difficult to imagine a more serious case.
It is difficult to believe that someone wants to equate the behaviour of a dangerous cyclist with this type of behaviour.
More to the point the bill as it stands does not include a legal definition of 'Dangerous'. The Road Traffic Act 1988 provides;(a)the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and .
(b)it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
Consequently a cyclist could be more likely to be convicted, the prosecution could use the dictionary definition of dangerous..."able or likely to cause physical injury". It seems that this wonderful MP knows nothing about the law. A copy of the bill is on the MP's website if you are interested.

posted by SideBurn [764 posts]
22nd January 2012 - 23:23

like this
Like (3)

I think the fact that cases like the one quoted result in a conviction shows how hated cyclists are by juries.

It really does make you wonder what kind of bloodlust this is that wants to imprison cyclists for a fatality when they are fined anyway. I wonder how many violent attacks result in suspended sentences?

By comparison I've seen an auditor verifiably lie to an Employment Tribunal over an investigation into fraud and hardly anyone bats an eyelid (including the Institute of Internal Auditors who refuse to investigate them). It really is about power rather than justice.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [278 posts]
24th January 2012 - 12:41

like this
Like (3)

I can't see there being many incidents where death is caused by dangerous cycling.

But it's not just drivers who do things which annoy other road users, and could cause accidents.

I see bicycle riders (I'm reluctant to call them cyclists) who hop on and off the pavement, scattering padestrians when they're on the pavement and causing drivers to swerve when they suddenly drop back onto the road. Also running red lights, riding on the wrong side of the road, and riding the wrong way down one way streets.

I don't see this everyday, but I do see it much more often that I'd like to. Once saw it from a group of club cyclists out for a ride. They pushed through to the front of the traffic queue (no ASL) and proceded to ride through the red light, around the flow of traffic across the junction.

Just like the idiot drivers tend to give all drivers a bad name, it's the idiot cyclists that give all cyclists a bad name, epecially to those drivers who don't cycle and don't realise that there are a lot of considerate cyclists out there who will follow the rules and will move out of the way of the traffic when there is room for them to be passed safely.

The rules of the road should apply to all road users equally, and the penalties should be the same for everyone. If you chose to cycle on the road, you become part of the road traffic, and should follow the rules of the road the same as the other road users should.

posted by Flippa [36 posts]
26th January 2012 - 17:27

like this
Like (3)