Dangerous cycling bill introduced to House of Lords

Tory peer proposes similar offences for cyclists who injure or kill as those for drivers

A private member’s bill to change existing legislation to introduce criminal offences of dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling has received its first reading in the House of Lords.

The bill, introduced to the House of Lords last Tuesday by Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, will receive a second reading in the chamber at a date to be announced.

It proposes introducing a new offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 of causing death by dangerous cycling, punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

It would also introduce separate offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and causing death by careless or inconsiderate cycling, both carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

In each case the maximum penalty is the same as applies for existing offences committed by operators of motor vehicles.

There have been calls in recent years to bring in specific offences for causing death or serious injury while cycling due to the perceived inadequacy of existing legislation to deal with such situations.

In 2017, the husband of pedestrian Kim Briggs, killed in a collision with a cyclist, launched a campaign to tighten up the law on dangerous cycling.

Charlie Alliston, who had been riding a fixed wheel bike with no front brake, was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of causing her death through wanton or furious driving under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The 20-year-old was convicted of causing bodily injury through wanton or furious driving.

In the wake of that case, then cycling minister Jessie Norman announced a review of the law on dangerous and careless cycling.

A consultation ran from August to November the following year, but the issue seems to have receded into the background, much like the wider road safety review first promised by the then coalition government in 2014.

Baroness McIntosh served as an MEP from 1989-99, and was MP for Vale of York from 1997-2010 and for Thirsk and Malton from 2010-2015.

She was deselected as a prospective parliamentary candidate ahead of the 2015 general election and awarded a life peerage in that year’s dissolution honours.

Since her elevation to the House of Lords, she has tabled several questions relating to people cycling on the pavement or riding their bikes through red traffic lights.

It is the second time the Conservative peer has introduced such a bill before the House of Lords. She previously did so on 31 October last year.

Due to the dissolution of Parliament ahead of December’s general election, there was no opportunity for it to receive a second reading during that session.

In 2012, another private member’s bill regarding the creation of a new offence of dangerous also failed to obtain a second reading in the House of Commons.

That bill was introduced by Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire and now Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

On the day it was due to be given its second reading in the House of Commons, it was too far down the order paper for it to be debated in the time available and the bill was shelved.

The first reading of a bill marks the first stage of its lengthy journey through the parliamentary process.

Typically a formality, it takes place without a debate, which happens at the second reading. It then goes through committee and report stages before a third stage.

Then, for a bill originating in the House of Lords, it is passed to the House of Commons, where it goes through the same sequence before both houses consider amendments and finally it is passed for Royal Assent.

The vast majority of private member’s bills never become Acts of Parliament, however, with an average of five a year becoming law over the past decade, and only three in those 10 years originating from the House of Lords.

With bills introduced by the government taking priority in the parliamentary calendar, private member’s bills are often used instead to ensure that specific issues are highlighted and debated in the Commons and Lords.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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