RoSPA calls for sentencing parity for dangerous cyclists - CTC agrees, with a twist

But would sentencing parity with drivers lead to lighter sentences for cyclists?

by John Stevenson   July 12, 2012  

Gavel

Should cyclists who kill or seriously injure other road users face the same penalties as drivers? The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents thinks so, according to a story in The Times earlier this week

The subject's in the news because investment banker Andrej Schipka was found guilty of careless cycling and fined £850 plus £930 costs and a £15 surcharge for injuring solicitor Clive Hyer last July. The court found Schipka had run a red light at about 26mph and the collision left Hyer with a fractured skull and lasting impairment.

To deal with similar cases involving motor vehicles, the government has announced a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, punishable by five years in jail and an unlimited fine. That offence doesn't apply to cyclists, however.

Commenting on the issue in general, and not on whether cyclists should be included in the new law, as some news outlets have implied, Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “Cyclists have to follow the law just as much as drivers and if they seriously injure or kill someone by riding carelessly or dangerously, then they should face the same level of penalty.

“The effects that these sorts of injuries have on victims and their families are just as devastating when caused by cyclists as they are caused by irresponsible drivers.”

Roger Geffen, campaigns & policy director thinks RoSPA should be careful what they wish for. In an unpublished letter to The Times, Geffen writes: “If irresponsible cyclists faced the same penalties as drivers, as some safety groups are apparently calling for this would in many cases actually mean lighter penalties.”

While the CTC doesn't defend irresponsible cycling any more than the AA or RAC would defend bad driving, Geffen points out: “It is common – routine almost – for drivers who kill pedestrians or cyclists to receive far lower penalties than the £850 handed down to Andrej Shipka who jumped a red light and left pedestrian Clive Hyler with a brain injury.”

Geffen cites the cases of the 17-year old with a previous speeding conviction who killed British Cycling coach Rob Jefferies, and who received a 200-hour community sentence and a fine of just £85; and the drivers who killed 85-year old Barbara Taylor and 89-year old Vera Chaplin who both received 100-hour community sentences.

The problem, says Geffen, is the Crown Prosecution Service. “The common strand in these, and many other similar cases recorded on CTC’s website, is that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided the driving wasn’t 'dangerous', and only prosecuted for a 'careless' offence. CTC has long believed the CPS has got the law wrong on this matter.

“The solution isn’t simply to toughen up the penalties for law-breaking cyclists – we would have no problem with this, if there is consistency with other road user groups. But first, the CPS should start applying the current law correctly, and stop dismissing driving which causes obviously foreseeable danger as mere 'carelessness', regardless of who is involved.”

5 user comments

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Roll on the case for Presumed Liability - if you are in charge of a motor vehicle you have something with major potential to kill and main and a liability to ensure you don't do that, even in a careless moment of inattention.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [493 posts]
12th July 2012 - 10:57

3 Likes

I couldn't agree with the CTC more strongly.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2233 posts]
12th July 2012 - 12:32

3 Likes

A V Lowe wrote:
Roll on the case for Presumed Liability - if you are in charge of a motor vehicle you have something with major potential to kill and main and a liability to ensure you don't do that, even in a careless moment of inattention.

Don't forget that presumed liability has nothing to do with criminal law and sentencing; it is merely used to help apportion responsibility (and therefore damages) in a civil court.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
12th July 2012 - 16:17

2 Likes

You might ask how many people were KSI by cyclists versus motor vehicles in the last 10 years, on a yearly average. And what was the average sanction.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
12th July 2012 - 22:51

3 Likes

Ah well then a slapped wrist for us cyclists,

posted by issacforce [205 posts]
28th July 2013 - 21:32

1 Like