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Conservative minister says government still considering new "dangerous cycling" law

Justice Minister Edward Argar said Department for Transport colleagues are working on legislation "to tackle those rare instances where victims have been killed or seriously injured by irresponsible cycling behaviour"...

The government is continuing to consider legislation to tackle "dangerous cycling", Justice Minister Edward Argar today told Parliament, as current laws are "old" and "difficult to successfully prosecute offences".

Answering questions in the House of Commons during 'Justice Questions', Argar responded to a query from former Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom who asked what work was being done to "make sure that the sentencing for those convicted of dangerous cycling is equalised with the sentencing guidelines for those convicted of dangerous driving?"

To which, Argar confirmed the matter is being considered by the Department for Transport (DfT).

"The safety of our roads is a key objective for the government. Protecting all road users is a priority," he said. "Like all road users, cyclists have a duty to behave in a safe and responsible manner. While laws are in place for cyclists, the current laws are old and it can be difficult to successfully prosecute offences.

> "Dangerous driving is a choice": Cycling and walking MPs call for tougher sentences for motorists driving larger cars, as well as strict enforcement of speed limits

"That's why DfT colleagues are considering bringing forward legislation to introduce new offences concerning dangerous cycling to tackle those rare instances where victims have been killed or seriously injured by irresponsible cycling behaviour."

The answer should, of course, not come as a surprise. Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called for a new 'death by dangerous cycling' law in January of last year, an intention again heard during his summer of 2022 backpedalling and U-turns after suggesting cyclists should have licences, number plates, be insured and subject to speed limits.

And while the Department for Transport quickly confirmed to road.cc that the string of ideas was "just proposals" — Shapps backtracking with a "not attracted to bureaucracy" of number plates for cyclists statement — the idea of bringing a 'death by dangerous cycling' law, in line with what motorists are subject to, has stuck around.

In June, it was reported that the DfT had admitted to campaigners that there is a lack of parliamentary time to implement such a law before the next general election, with attention thought to be being turned to a private member's bill.

> Government will struggle to introduce 'death by dangerous cycling' law before next general election, report suggests

The campaigners, many of whom are bereaved relatives, want to see the law updated to see stricter punishments for cyclists who kill while riding recklessly. Currently, offenders can be jailed for a maximum of two years under the 1861 wanton or furious driving law.

However, as reported on this website, it was said that any legislation may struggle to be passed before the next election, expected to be held in January 2025. According to Argar's comments today, such legislation is still being considered.

The line come a day after the All Party Parliamentary Group for Walking and Cycling (APPGWC), a cross-party group, unveiled its report making recommendations to improve safety on Britain's roads.

At the report's launch, Chris Boardman spoke for the first time about losing his mum at the hands of a killer driver. 

> "No family should go through what mine did": Chris Boardman speaks about losing his mum at the hands of killer driver for the first time

The Road Justice report makes ten recommendations, including compulsory re-testing of drivers after any period of disqualification, ending the speed leniency that allows drivers to exceed the limit by 10 per cent, and making the "exceptional hardship" claim genuinely exceptional.

Sponsored by British Cycling, the governing body has also supported it, calling for an end to "hazardous leniency" in sentencing of drivers who kill or injure cyclists.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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42 comments

Avatar
neilmck | 10 months ago
2 likes

"the current laws are old" In what way? There are a lot less cyclists than 100 years ago. There are a lot less pedestrians as well, and pedestrians are a lot more careful crossing the road due to the number of cars. The quality of bicycles is a lot better meaning the riding quality is better. All this should result in less risk for other road users and less collisions. If the laws were okay 100 years ago then they are more than adequate today.

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lonpfrb | 10 months ago
2 likes

This is just dog whistle politics.
In the unlikely event that it's enacted I'm not concerned because:
1 The risk is negligible,
2 A 'death by dangerous cycling' law will be ineffective just like the 'death by dangerous driving' law .

A very poor use of parliaments time.

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peted76 | 10 months ago
4 likes

.

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belugabob | 10 months ago
4 likes

When will these ineffective ministers realise that, generally, we do not need legislation - we need to use enforcement of existing legislation. And to this the "sledgehammer/nut" aspect, and things become even more exasperating.

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Steve K replied to belugabob | 10 months ago
2 likes

belugabob wrote:

When will these ineffective ministers realise that, generally, we do not need legislation - we need to use enforcement of existing legislation.

Funnily enough, that's a constant refrain in my professional life (and absolutely nothing to do with cycling/motoring/roads etc!)

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Steve K | 10 months ago
6 likes

I'm not worried, because there's no time for anything to happen before the general election.

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mctrials23 | 10 months ago
10 likes

I'm not worried. I'm sure these laws will include the usual caveats that you can make up BS excuses for dangerous cycling. 

"Sun was in my eyes"

"I couldn't see very well so I just carried on like there was no one else around"

"I don't remember hitting that pedestrian and then repeatedly hitting them with my panniers. Why yes, I was slightly puzzled by all the blood on them and the dent in my frame but who knows how they got there"

"I have never been caught after hitting a pedestrian before so I am clearly of good character and mounting the pavement to mow one down was definitely the first time I have ever cycled dangerously"

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brooksby | 10 months ago
15 likes

I was reading the report into the introduction of compulsory ID for voting, and how it had effectively disenfranchised enough people to have had an effect on the results of elections... It seems to me that this is the same sort of thing: focus on a problem which really isnt a problem and then make lots of General Melchett noises about solving this hens tooth of an issue with shiny tough new legislation which will generate good headlines even if it causes all sorts of other problems which didn't exist before.

;TLDR = Oh, FFS <face/palm>

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open_roads | 10 months ago
3 likes

One of the issues almost entirely overlooked by everyone is the role of group think in the Dept of Transport.

The DoT's lack of interest in creating safe conditions for active travel / cycling isn't just a recent phenomenon - it stretches back more than three decades. 

In the minds of DoT civil servants the only two real priorities are road and rail - this is reflected in internal structures, policy development and how investment decisions are appraised.

In some respects, the ability of Ministers to effect any change is limited by whether their worldview reflects that of the Civil Servants that serve them - the same being true across many other Whitehall depts. 

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eburtthebike replied to open_roads | 10 months ago
3 likes

open_roads wrote:

The DoT's lack of interest in creating safe conditions for active travel / cycling isn't just a recent phenomenon - it stretches back more than three decades.

Oh yes, much more than three decades: four, approaching five to my knowledge.

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Mr.B-Campag replied to open_roads | 10 months ago
2 likes

I don't doubt there's some groupthink at DfT, but in the end they are there to implement the policies of the govt. of the day. There are doubtless plenty of people there who are interested in safe active travel - certainly when I worked there the bike sheds were full every day, and not only with bikes from more junior staff. Agree the structures (assuming they are still the same) are problematic - they reinforce a focus on particular modes rather than solving transport problems - so you can add aviation to your list. But I think that structure ultimately reflects the way politicians see things. If there's any capture it's on a modal basis - you could always tell which bit of the department you were going through by the models of planes, trains etc on the desks!

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eburtthebike | 10 months ago
19 likes

Great to see our leaders tackling the big issues of our times, like climate change, war, poverty and killer cyclists.

Still, no need to worry, that comprehensive review of road laws promised all those years ago* will be published soon.

* How many?  I've lost count.

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Pub bike | 10 months ago
14 likes

Does this also mean that the DfT is considering banning convicted offenders from cycling as part of their sentence?  Will cyclists be able to plead exceptional hardship to avoid a cycling ban?   Will there be a new offence of cycling whilst disqualified? Will all cyclists need cycling licences?  Would the equivalent law for pedestrians ban them from walking?  Hopefully all this nonsense will get dismissed before it ever reaches parliament.

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the little onion | 10 months ago
4 likes

Here's a stat for the government - in the 7 years from 2011 to 2016 (inclusive), there was 1 cyclist death and 101 serious injuries to cyclists in collisions with pedestrians. 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...

Now, how might that compare to KSIs to pedestrians from cyclists? Genuine question? Who is the biggest source of harm to the other, putting blame/causality to one side for a moment?

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eburtthebike replied to the little onion | 10 months ago
7 likes

Please stop this nonsense.  Everyone knows that it's the cyclists who mow down pedestrians, piling them up by the side of the road so that they don't obstruct the cycle paths, not the delightful, fragrant, responsible pedestrians wot never done no wrong never: like drivers.

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the little onion replied to the little onion | 10 months ago
0 likes

Actually, this would indicate nearly 800 KSIs for pedestrians with cyclists in a different period - not sure of statistical comparability around methods, reporting standards etc. I do know that my injury (which actually required an ambulance in attendence) was not recorded as a RTA.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-...(58,injured%20(%20KSI%20)%20casualties%20were%20male

So actually, unless the stats are WAY off, pedestrians are more at risk from cyclists than vice versa. Still absolutely dwarved by motor vehicles though.

 

 

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Pub bike | 10 months ago
6 likes

This doesn't bode well for getting tougher sentences for motorists committing offences driving larger cars.

If sentencing were proportional to the vehicle gross weight however...

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Born_peddling replied to Pub bike | 10 months ago
0 likes

You're right and don't forget if you drive your insurance company can sue said cyclist after the fact!

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ymm | 10 months ago
10 likes

This herd of fools in charge of the UK will try anything to cling onto a few, no, in fact any, votes. The sheer desperation of the drivel that the Tories spout is mind boggling. We should be roundly ignoring Tories as they will soon to be redundant and some would say already irrelevant!

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eburtthebike replied to ymm | 10 months ago
6 likes

ymm wrote:

This herd of fools in charge of the UK will try anything to cling onto a few, no, in fact any, votes. The sheer desperation of the drivel that the Tories spout is mind boggling. We should be roundly ignoring Tories as they will soon to be redundant and some would say already irrelevant!

"Herd of fools"?  Rather too polite!  Bunch of total incompetents without a single moral between them is a bit closer.

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Clem Fandango replied to ymm | 10 months ago
10 likes

Herd of Fools.

Wasn't that Nige's garage band?

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chrisonabike replied to Clem Fandango | 10 months ago
2 likes

I've never herd of Fools?  Was "Cycle Path Folly (on Folly Road)" one of theirs?  Or was that Waste Of Money?

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eburtthebike replied to Clem Fandango | 10 months ago
1 like

Clem Fandango wrote:

Herd of Fools. Wasn't that Nige's garage band?

Herd were rather good.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMPZ2UIVtoI

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the little onion | 10 months ago
14 likes

https://road.cc/content/news/228969-reading-cyclist-died-after-pedestria...

 

Cyclist going along, no sign of doing anything illegal. Pedestrian leaving pub and steps into road. Cyclist killed in the collision. 

 

No investigation into potential criminal offence.

Go stick your dangerous cycling laws up your arse.

 

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eburtthebike replied to the little onion | 10 months ago
6 likes

Have you written to your MP to demand a dangerous walking law?  Sauce for the goose.....

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neilmck replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
1 like

A dangerous walking law - half the population could be locked up with a law like that.

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Miller replied to the little onion | 10 months ago
3 likes

Quote from the article six years ago: "Andrew Pedley, Ben’s father, said there was “no safe pedestrian crossing from Parkers to the Co-op” and called for Wokingham Borough Council to review the junction."

I live very close to that junction. There still isn't a safe ped crossing at that point which is a place used by many pedestrians. WBC has done nothing to improve the junction.

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ChrisB200SX | 10 months ago
15 likes

Good to see this Government once again really knuckling down to dealing with the most important issue of our time and not just stoking a culture war for their own ends.

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the little onion | 10 months ago
17 likes

A few years back, cycling along at about 25mph,  I was battered and bruised in a collision with a pedestrian who ran into the road without looking. I look forwards to the government levelling things, and creating an offence of dangerous pedestrianing, to protect us cyclists from irresponsible pedestrians.

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Clem Fandango replied to the little onion | 10 months ago
19 likes

I'm sure the Tory "Government" will prioritise addressing the pedestrian menace, it's not like there are any other actual fires for them to put out.

Clearly all pedestrians should:

  • have a reflective face
  • have an ID number tattooed to their forehead
  • have to wear hi-viz clothing
  • paY roAd TaX
  • pay mandatory insurance
  • wear polystyrene hats
  • have MOT's for their shoes
  • be fined if they cross against a red signal
  • be fined and have their shoes confiscated if they cross a road without using the crossing (that we pay for!)
  • be subjected to regular bashing in the media (the free loading, T-shirt clad hooligans)
  • be fitted with speedometers & fined (and tasered) if they exceed a 3 mph speed limit
  • Be fined (or otherwise just cycled aggressively at and shouted at) if they don't use the "pedestrian lane"

 

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