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Transport Secretary says tougher laws for dangerous cyclists "under review" and will be considered "with an open mind"

Comments come after Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith tabled a series of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill calling for stricter penalties for cyclists who kill or injure pedestrians

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said tougher legislation to prosecute cyclists who kill or injure pedestrians is "under review" and will be considered "with an open mind". Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party, has this week tabled a series of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill that would see cyclists, as well as riders of electric scooters and "personal transporters", subject to stricter laws if they ride dangerously and kill or injure.

The topic has attracted widespread national print and broadcast media coverage this week in the aftermath of a news story published at the weekend about a coroner's inquest being told that no charges would be brought against a cyclist who was riding laps of London's Regent's Park when he crashed into a pensioner, causing her fatal injuries.

Harper told the Telegraph newspaper he "will look at his [Duncan Smith's] amendments and we will consider it with an open mind. I have been clear that we are keeping this legislation under review". He also commented that there are already some "specific offences on the statute books" that cyclists can be prosecuted under if they ride dangerously and kill or injure a pedestrian.

In 2017, London fixed-wheel cyclist Charlie Alliston was sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders institution after being convicted of causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving, in relation to the death of pedestrian Kim Briggs, the woman whose widower Matthew has been campaigning for dangerous cycling laws since and yesterday appeared on Good Morning Britain.

 Harper also claimed his government remains committed to promoting active travel schemes, a claim many will question given the ongoing funding controversies and lack of mention of cycling policies during his party conference speech of the autumn that was slammed an "ill-fated attempt to win" votes with pro-motoring policies "undermining" active travel success by Cycling UK.

> Rishi Sunak's 'Plan for Motorists' will "rob people of choice" and force them to drive, say cycling and walking campaigners

Duncan Smith's proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill would also require bikes to be "equipped and maintained" to certain legal standards, although the Telegraph also noted that any chance of it becoming law is reliant, in part, on the government backing it and the Speaker of the House Lindsay Hoyle putting it up for a debate in the House of Commons.

It would replace the legislation under which cyclists can currently be prosecuted by the 1861 "wanton or furious driving" law and would see the introduction of a specific "offence of causing death or serious injury by dangerous, careless, or inconsiderate cycling" and killing through "inconsiderate" cycling.

"After seven years of campaigning alongside other families who have lost loved ones, I'm delighted and very grateful to Sir Iain Duncan Smith for his support," Briggs said of the week's increase in attention to his cause.

"It finally seems we are making some progress. This amendment could bring a degree of comfort for families in knowing that they may not have to face the same legal trauma that my family – and others – have had to face after cyclists have caused fatal injuries.

"It would also act as a much-needed deterrent to ensure cyclists obey the rules of the road in the same way motorists are required to do."

> "Next you'll be asking if drink driving laws are fair": UK Government asks motorists "caught out" by cycle lanes if current traffic fines are "fair to drivers", leaving cyclists baffled

As Briggs referenced, the debate around tougher dangerous cycling laws is not a new development, even if it has attracted increased political and media attention this week following the Regent's Park case, a coroner's court hearing that Brian Fitzgerald had been riding at a speed of between 25mph and 29mph as he undertook laps of the park in a pace line when he hit 81-year-old Hilda Griffiths, who died from her injuries two months later.

Outer Circle near Hanover Terrace (via Google Street View)

Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps first raised the idea of dangerous cycling laws in January 2022, before declaring his intention to introduce it again later that year during his infamous summer of backpedalling and U-turns that saw him suggest – and almost immediately retract – that cyclists should have licences, number plates, be insured, and subject to speed limits.

Last summer, it appeared that there was little chance of such a law passing due to a lack of parliamentary time before the next general election, the Department for Transport reportedly telling campaigners as much. In the autumn, Justice Minister Edward Agar said the government was still considering a dangerous cycling law "to tackle those rare instances where victims have been killed or seriously injured by irresponsible cycling behaviour".

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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43 comments

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Hirsute | 2 months ago
2 likes

Meanwhile

The head of roads policing in the UK is calling for greater punishments for motoring offences to cut the number of people driving dangerously.

https://highways-news.com/police-roads-chief-wants-tougher-sentences-to-...

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marmotte27 | 2 months ago
0 likes

Open mind 🤣

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Simon E | 2 months ago
6 likes

Pedestrians killed on footway or verge, 2010 - 2020 (DfT statistics):

Motor vehicles = 383
Cyclists = 3

https://twitter.com/tony_eh/status/1788640519783956691

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HoarseMann replied to Simon E | 2 months ago
0 likes

hmm, and which one is the 'lawless' activity?

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eburtthebike | 2 months ago
1 like

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha: a tory with an open mind.

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eburtthebike | 2 months ago
6 likes

All the reports I've seen/heard on this mention how many pedestrians have died after a collision with a cyclist, but none of them attribute fault, the automatic assumption being that it was the cyclist at fault.  AFAIK, the data shows that pedestrians are at least as culpable as cyclists, and cyclists are at least as likely to come off worst in such collisions: but the media can't mention anything that might show cyclists to be the victims, and the BBC doubly so.

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hawkinspeter replied to eburtthebike | 2 months ago
2 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

All the reports I've seen/heard on this mention how many pedestrians have died after a collision with a cyclist, but none of them attribute fault, the automatic assumption being that it was the cyclist at fault.  AFAIK, the data shows that pedestrians are at least as culpable as cyclists, and cyclists are at least as likely to come off worst in such collisions: but the media can't mention anything that might show cyclists to be the victims, and the BBC doubly so.

IIRC the averages were something like 60% pedestrian fault and 40% cyclist fault

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Hirsute replied to eburtthebike | 2 months ago
6 likes

This is from some time ago

STATS19 reported road casualty data between 2011-2016 confirms that during this
period there were a total of 2,491 collisions between cyclists and pedestrians
resulting in a pedestrian casualty (but not necessarily amounting to fault on the part of the cyclist):
20 resulted in a pedestrian fatality
546 resulted in a pedestrian serious injury
1,931 resulted in a pedestrian slight injury (6 of these cases were the
same collision where there was a pedestrian serious injury)
44 had two pedestrian casualties and 1 had three pedestrian casualties

For completeness, not all of these fatalities were attributed to cyclist error:

“15/20 fatalities were assigned at least one contributory factor, with 6/20 assigning a factor to the pedestrian only, 5/20 assigning a factor to both the pedestrian and the cyclist, and 4/20 assigning a factor to the cyclist only.”

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yupiteru | 2 months ago
8 likes

If you want to kill someone and get away without going to prison and have a mediocre punishment imposed upon you, make sure the victim is riding a bicycle.

This has been demonstrated time and time again on a worryingly  regular basis over the years, yet when a cyclist sadly kills a pedestrian (which thankfully is a very rare event) cyclists are the most evil people on the planet all of a sudden.

It is sad that there are such incredibly stupid people in society who fall for this baiting by the media (and others who have a vested interest in the motoring industry), the aim of which is to take the heat of the motor vehicle carnage that kills people every single day.

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carefulrider | 2 months ago
0 likes

The cyclist in the pace line was cycling dangerously when considered objectively. He didn't have full concentration on the safety of where he was going. He was essentially racing. He was more concerned about his speed and his position in the line than he should have been. He should have been charged IMO. The roads are not a race track.

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Rendel Harris replied to carefulrider | 2 months ago
11 likes

"When considered objectively" – your objective consideration being based solely on what you have read, you were not there, you have seen no video and you are disregarding the witness reports. This comment and your comments on Mrs Ward's death would appear to show that you have a fairly hefty anti-cyclist agenda.

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brooksby replied to Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
11 likes

"I'm a cyclist myself" 

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Hirsute replied to Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
5 likes

We've had a long gap of, let's say provocateurs. Had to end sometime!

Off to my cello lesson soon.

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Rendel Harris replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
6 likes
Hirsute wrote:

Off to my cello lesson soon.

Well for God's sake take your car, don't you go showing disrespect by turning up in those clumpy shoes with helmet hair looking like an explosion in the Decathlon aisle.

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ChrisA replied to Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
1 like

From what I have read in the press it does seem that the cyclist was essentially racing on a public road & not giving his full attention to his surroundings.  That said, reports suggest that Mrs Ward stepped out without warning, which would suggest that it was solely her fault.  The fact that a normal competent cyclist (or driver) might have given any pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the point that needs to be made.

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hawkinspeter replied to ChrisA | 2 months ago
4 likes
ChrisA wrote:

From what I have read in the press it does seem that the cyclist was essentially racing on a public road & not giving his full attention to his surroundings.  That said, reports suggest that Mrs Ward stepped out without warning, which would suggest that it was solely her fault.  The fact that a normal competent cyclist (or driver) might have given any pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the point that needs to be made.

What do you mean by "essentially racing"? Who was the cyclist racing against and how do you know that he wasn't giving full attention to his surroundings?

I also don't see how paying more attention to your surroundings is going to help when a pedestrian suddenly steps off a pavement just 2m in front of you. How much space did the cyclist leave between himself and the edge of the road and how much space should he have left?

Do you understand what "without warning" means?

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NotNigel replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
1 like

Do you understand what "without warning" means?

Yes, but it seems to mean different things to a lot of commentators on this site depending on wether a cyclist or motorist was involved.

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hawkinspeter replied to NotNigel | 2 months ago
2 likes
NotNigel wrote:

Do you understand what "without warning" means?

Yes, but it seems to mean different things to a lot of commentators on this site depending on wether a cyclist or motorist was involved.

I don't really get your point - can you be more explicit?

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Rendel Harris replied to ChrisA | 2 months ago
3 likes
ChrisA wrote:

From what I have read in the press it does seem that the cyclist was essentially racing on a public road & not giving his full attention to his surroundings.  That said, reports suggest that Mrs Ward stepped out without warning, which would suggest that it was solely her fault.  The fact that a normal competent cyclist (or driver) might have given any pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the point that needs to be made.

You have your cases mixed up, the unfortunate lady in this case was a Mrs Griffiths, Mrs Ward was the cyclist killed in the Auriol Grey incident. Regardless, I think there are rather too many assumptions on your part, with all respect: firstly, riding in a chain gang is not the same as racing on a public road. If they were racing and, for example, the cyclist had hit the pedestrian because he was pulling out to try and get round another rider, I would entirely agree they should be condemned, but training in a paceline is not racing. Furthermore, who is to say that he was "not giving his full attention to his surroundings"? A competent cyclist is perfectly capable of riding in a group and paying attention to the environment at the same time. As far as your point about giving pedestrians on the kerb edge more room goes, take a look at the picture of the incident location above: the lane there is approximately 2m wide with the narrowing for the pedestrian island and for all we know there may have been pedestrians on the other side as well, certainly not enough space to get more than a metre away from the kerb in either direction, given that half a cyclist is about 30 cm even a cyclist riding in the middle of the lane might not have a chance to stop for a pedestrian who is only 70 cm off their shoulder if they decide to step out without warning.

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ChrisA replied to Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
0 likes

Apologies for the naming error.  This is all assumption.  I am simply asking if some mitigation might have been possible; as I said below, possibly not.  After all if you glance at your watch/computer or look at another hazard, or anything else, your two metres is up.  But that 30cm you mention might be the difference between head on and a glancing blow; or it might not.

 

 

 

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GMBasix replied to ChrisA | 2 months ago
5 likes
ChrisA wrote:

From what I have read in the press it does seem that the cyclist was essentially racing on a public road & not giving his full attention to his surroundings.  That said, reports suggest that Mrs Ward stepped out without warning, which would suggest that it was solely her fault.  The fact that a normal competent cyclist (or driver) might have given any pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the point that needs to be made.

"essentially" appears, in my experience, to be a euphemism for, "I can't prove it, but it feels a bit like..."

We don't need to define racing through a bias-filtered retrospectoscope. The Road Traffic Act 1988 s31(1) says,

RTA1988 wrote:

"A person who promotes or takes part in a race or trial of speed on a public way between cycles is guilty of an offence"

(organised exceptions apply).

If what was actually happening was a group riding in formation for training purposes, then there is no evidence that they were "racing" because s31(1) implies a competitive element.

Fast ≠ Racing

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ChrisA replied to GMBasix | 2 months ago
1 like

I am merely questioning whether riding in a group, whether competetive or training  (one might even suggest social) might influence your road positioning/spacing and your awareness of your surroudings. 

Without warning, to my mind means without any prior indication, no time involved.  In this case, I think, two meters is mentioned.  Allowing one second to initiate a reaction, once you notice the hazard, time is probably up.

 My point was; could this have been mitigated by a change of position, speed, awareness?  The answer, possibly, is no.  But I think it is worth asking the question.

 

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hawkinspeter replied to ChrisA | 2 months ago
0 likes
ChrisA wrote:

I am merely questioning whether riding in a group, whether competetive or training  (one might even suggest social) might influence your road positioning/spacing and you awareness of your surroudings. 

Without warning, to my mind means without any prior indication, no time involved.  In this case, I think, two meters as mentioned.  Allowing one second to initiate a reaction, once you notice the hazard, time is probably up.

 My point was; could this have been mitigated by a change of position, speed, awareness?  The answer, possibly, is no.  But I think it is worth asking the question.

You weren't asking a question, but making a false point:

Quote:

The fact that a normal competent cyclist (or driver) might have given any pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the point that needs to be made.

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ChrisA replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
0 likes

Ok, I'm happy to rephrase that - Should a normal competent cyclist (or driver) have given the pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the question that might be asked.  

Surely our aim should be to minimise these accidents, where reasonably possible.  Not simply say "it wasn't our fault".

,

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hawkinspeter replied to ChrisA | 2 months ago
0 likes
ChrisA wrote:

Ok, I'm happy to rephrase that - Should a normal competent cyclist (or driver) have given the pedestrian near the kerb edge more space is, I think, the question that might be asked.  

Surely our aim should be to minimise these accidents, where possible.  Not simply say "it wasn't our fault".

,

I'm all for looking at ways to minimise traffic collisions, but some incidents are so rare and difficult to mitigate that they're not worth dealing with until the far more common risks are dealt with.

In this incident, the root cause as I see it was the pedestrian stepping out straight into traffic without looking. To mitigate that kind of scenario would involve something like fitting a pedestrian crossing, but even so that's not guaranteed to make any difference as pedestrians can still step into the road without the traffic having enough time to react.

What bugs me is the number of people questioning the behaviour of the cyclist when it's very clear that 2m is not enough time for any cyclist or driver to react and avoid the collision. The cyclist's speed would seem to be irrelevant unless the force of the collision was the main cause of the pedestrian's injuries as opposed to the fall being more injuring - usually it's the fall and hitting concrete that causes more damage in cyclist-pedestrian collisions.

If we want traffic to not be travelling close to the kerb, then we're going to have to re-design a lot of cycle lanes as that's typically exactly where they're positioned. We could try installing a buffer zone between all pavements and all roads, but that seems extravagantly expensive (price-wise and space-wise) just to help with traffic spotting when a pedestrian is about to enter the roadway.

It just seems to me that some people are going out of their way to blame the cyclist when it doesn't seem appropriate in this instance.

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Backladder replied to carefulrider | 2 months ago
2 likes
carefulrider wrote:

The cyclist in the pace line was cycling dangerously when considered objectively. He didn't have full concentration on the safety of where he was going. He was essentially racing. He was more concerned about his speed and his position in the line than he should have been. He should have been charged IMO. The roads are not a race track.

Having ridden in a paceline regularly I can confidently respond that he would have had full concentration on his surroundings, looking ahead of the rider in front so that he could try to anticipate any braking being needed, he was absolutely not racing because he was not competing against his companions, they were co-operating. The people who try to illegally use the public roads as a race track are generally motorists or motorcyclists. Please save your opinions for things you have some experience of!

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festina | 2 months ago
7 likes

War on cyclists.

I read the piece in the telegraph (it landed in my news feed) where they blamed the cyclists riding at speed (25+ mph). Elsewhere they ridicule Wales' 20mph speed limits and state drivers can go 25mph in 20 zones without being punished.

And whilst we have to go back to 2017 for the last pedestrian death by cyclist on average one a day are killed by cars.

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mitsky replied to festina | 2 months ago
4 likes

"... killed by cars" or "... killed by drivers" ... ?

Unless the cars were self-drriving/autonomous. Knightrider?

We would never say "... killed by a gun."

http://rc-rg.com

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brooksby replied to mitsky | 2 months ago
4 likes

"Killed with a gun" so "killed with a car"

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Griff500 replied to festina | 2 months ago
0 likes

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