Criminal justice system failing cyclists, Get Britain Cycling inquiry told

Second session of Parliamentary Inquiry focuses on cycle safety

by Simon_MacMichael   January 31, 2013  

Palace Of Westminster At Night © Andrew Dunn.jpg

The ‘Get Britain Cycling’ parliamentary inquiry has been told that the criminal justice system is failing to deal adequately with people who put others at risk on the road, particularly vulnerable users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Stricter enforcement of the law, driver training, lower speed limits and better infrastructure were among key factors highlighted to increase the safety of cyclists.

Summarising the sessiom, Ian Austin MP, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group which is holding the inquiry, said: “Today’s hearing focused on all aspects of road safety but the most compelling argument presented to the inquiry was the fact that the justice system isn’t protecting cyclists when things go wrong.

“I’ve seen people get knocked off their bikes and in most instances it just isn’t taken seriously enough. I’m pleased that Martin Jones from Ministry of Justice has agreed to look at the laws concerning bad driving.” 

Yesterday’s second session of the inquiry focused on cycle safety, with witnesses including representatives of cycling, motoring and road safety organisations, as well as legal experts including Martin Porter QC, who blogs as the Cycling Lawyer.

Mr Porter described the police as “spineless” when it came to cases in which cyclists are victims – you my recall the battle he had to fight to get them to take action when he was threatened by a driver, an incident he captured on video.

The inquiry also heard Chris Peck of national cyclists’ organisation CTC explain that since the offence of careless driving was introduced in 2008, fewer people are being charged with the more serious one of dangerous driving, which he attributed to less strict enforcement of the law.

Several of those giving evidence, who included representatives of organsiations such as RoadPeace, Sustrans, the AA and British Cycling, said that cycle awareness should be incorporated into the driving test, and that infrastructure needed to be put in place to encourage people to cycle.

Jason Torrance, policy director at Sustrans, said: “To create a healthier and less polluted UK we need to ensure everyone has a real choice over how they get around, and urgent action must be taken to transform our streets and local neighbourhoods, making them safer for cyclists and motorists.

"We need to ensure more drivers are trained in how to share roads with cyclists and provide more cycle training opportunities, particularly for children.

"Above all we need to slow the speed of traffic, making 20mph speed limits the norm in built up areas, and provide safer routes for cyclists across the country.”

CTC also called for 20mph to be made the default speed limit in such areas, as well as highlighting that local authorities need to be given more freedom to implement continental style infrastructure, and that the continued threat posed by lorries needs to be tackled, pointing out plans by the Department for Transport to allow longer lorries and to allow them to go faster on roads in rural areas.

Julian Huppert MP, co-chair of the APPCG, commented: “This inquiry is pulling together some very strong evidence from experts in a wide range of fields.

“It is vital that we cover every angle if we are to present the full picture to government on what needs to be done to improve cycle safety.

“Driver behaviour and cycle training were two areas covered today and it is essential that all road-users play their parts if we are to see real change.

“This inquiry is putting cycling firmly in the spotlight and its profile has been raised even further by the announcement today of £62 million to improve safety on our city streets.

“We need to see real commitment now if we are to make a difference.”

The next session concentrates on planning and design and will be held on 6 February.

Those giving evidence include CTC, Sustrans, ibikelondon, the London Cycling Campaign, the Highways Agency, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, 20s Plenty and Living Streets.

12 user comments

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Lots of good talk but sadly all that happens is a report with recommendations which is quickly ignored by the government Sad

posted by kitkat [287 posts]
31st January 2013 - 13:28


I so hope this results in more than just a bunch of organisations agreeing with each other and then nothing changing.

Longer, faster lorries is a scary thought.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3724 posts]
31st January 2013 - 14:01


I do hold out some hope that even these small steps will lead to some forward action being taken and coupled with 'Cassie's Law' being petitioned and pushed for (police able to remove licenses from medically unfit drivers) we might just see some positive steps happening.

posted by twist305 [24 posts]
31st January 2013 - 14:01


You'd hope getting our pathetic road laws changed would be an easy victory because it's not just cyclists that are being let down,it's pedestrians and other road users.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [136 posts]
31st January 2013 - 16:20


Well, we keep saying that something needs to be done to ensure the safety of all road users; and specifically those on foot or cycling. This news must surely be a step in the right direction? and if we keep pushing for stricter laws; and more public awareness of the safety issues we face on the roads, then maybe we will see our highways become safer places to cycle?

let us hope for a safer future for all. life is precious after-all.

posted by Mostyn [430 posts]
31st January 2013 - 18:29


20 mph is starting to be implemented all over the country. It took very little pressure for our council to join the surrounding councils. Check out 20 is Plenty online and get involved. Reducing the speed limit is key to ensure more safety for all road users and the penny is dropping at last.

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

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1225 posts]
31st January 2013 - 19:37


Yeah right....!!

So how come it takes 16 days before TVP even get in touch with me, to access the video of a road rage incident with a lorry driver on the 11th January this year! Angry

OK, I did expect a delay of a few days because it wasn't an "urgent" incident but one that did need investigating with more than the condescending attitude of the officer who finally got in touch with me! Crying

posted by Furry Mommy [32 posts]
31st January 2013 - 22:50


Furry Mommy wrote:
Yeah right....!!

So how come it takes 16 days before TVP even get in touch with me, to access the video of a road rage incident with a lorry driver on the 11th January this year! Angry

OK, I did expect a delay of a few days because it wasn't an "urgent" incident but one that did need investigating with more than the condescending attitude of the officer who finally got in touch with me! Crying

I hear that the numbers of Police Officers are being cut? That means the ones now sitting in the police station; may have to go out on the beat and do some work? must be very upsetting for them.

posted by Mostyn [430 posts]
1st February 2013 - 10:41


however many laws are passed it would take an effort similar to that used to get people not to smoke in public to begin to think its NOT ok to use their cars to "tell off" a cyclist that is "in their way" and who subsequently they "did not see" if in fact anything happend as a consequence of their belligerent behaviour ...

I discussed this with a police man who pulled me up for shouting at a cab driver - a cab driver who had twice in the one journey used his cab to express his frustration that I was on the right and not the left - I was in fact getting ready and positioned to turn right

the police man suggested I was an aggressive cyclist for taking that position in the road - and even suggested I look at how old and frail the driver was... I guess suggesting how on earth could I have been threatened by him...

I suggested to the police person that if he was going to take that view then if he didnt mind I would simply punch the driver as it would make me feel better...

I was nearly arrested for suggesting this

I left then to get my train telling him and the crowd that had gathered that he was a complete waist of my tax payers money - all he needed do was to say in public to that driver that he was wrong and I would have been happy

this complicity gives them - the drivers - a sense of impunity after all if to kill a cyclist gets £35 and 3 points - lets make it a sport - why not - seems popular enough...

posted by silkred [23 posts]
1st February 2013 - 10:46


Don't think there's a problem with the law, it's enforcement and sentencing that need the attention.

posted by mbrads72 [158 posts]
1st February 2013 - 13:19


I'm going to have to totally disagree, the wording of the law for dangerous driving is horribly vague which is the reason why CPS are very reluctant to attempt dangerous driving prosecutions.

And the fact that there are both careless driving and dangerous driving laws is farcical because careless driving is of course dangerous and can lead to death.

The careless driving law should be scraped, it was a mistake and the wording of the dangerous driving law needs to be sorted out (as regards to what constitutes dangerous driving).

posted by kie7077 [802 posts]
1st February 2013 - 21:01




Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [586 posts]
4th February 2013 - 9:52