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New legislation would target cyclists who kill or injure pedestrians

Law being proposed after teenager's death in 2008...

An MP is proposing the creation of a new offence aimed at cyclists who kill or seriously injure pedestrians.

Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, is due to use the Ten Minute Rule Motion to give the Dangerous and Reckless Cycling (Offences) Bill its first reading in the House of Commons tomorrow, although this timing may change in view of developments in Libya.

If adopted,  the Bill would create the new offences of causing death or serious injury through dangerous or reckless cycling and set minimum sentencing and fine tariffs for those convicted of such offences.

The impetus behind the Bill comes from the tragic case of 17-year-old Rhiannon Bennett who was struck by a cyclist in Buckingham in 2008 and died as a result of her injuries.

The cyclist, Jason Howard, is said to have shouted at a group of teenagers to “move, because I’m not stopping” before colliding with the Rhiannon and knocking her over. The teenager struck her head on the pavement and died six days later.

Howard was found guilty of dangerous cycling and fined £2200, a figure which is well in excess of those handed down to many motorists convicted of killing cyclists through dangerous driving.

While it was widely reported that Howard was riding on the pavement when the collision occured, after the case, Sgt Dominic Mahon of Thames Valley Police told the BBC: "We think Rhiannon was probably a few inches, or a foot, in to the road and then she moved towards the pavement."

A CTC spokesman told that: there have been two jail sentences handed down to cyclists who have killed pedestrians in recent years so there is no need for new legislation.

While a cyclist cannot receive a custodial sentence under a charge of dangerous cycling, such an option is available in cases where a rider is found guilty of "wanton and furious driving" as under this law the term "driving" can apply to bicycles.

Department for Transport figures suggest that the incidence of pedestrians being killed by cyclists riding on pavements is extremely low with three deaths having been recorded between 1999 and 2009.

There were no pedestrian deaths caused by cyclists on roads or pavements in 2009, the last full year for which figures are available.


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