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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

Avatar
Pub bike | 1 month ago
4 likes

"People are surprised to know that cycling is a lawless activity when it comes to the Road Traffic Act"

Did the reporters, programme makers or anyone else associated with this item bother to even look at the Road Traffic Act 1988?  (see also Road Traffic Act 1991).  I'm guessing that they didn't looking paragraphs 28 to 32.

Avatar
espressodan | 1 month ago
7 likes

When posted speed limits do not apply to you under the law, you cannot, by definition, be a "speeding cyclist".

When posted speed limits do not apply to you under the law, you cannot, by definition, be a "lawless cyclist" when exceeding the posted speed limit.

Cycling without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for other road users (Careless Cycling) is covered under Section 29 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Under Section 28 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a cyclist can be charged with dangerous cycling if their cycling is far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist and it would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist that riding in that way would be dangerous.

So, there are already sufficient laws to apply to cyclists, and as most cyclists would be hard pressed in most circumstances to exceed most speed limits, and there is no possibility for a standard for bicycle speedometers that anybody would find workable, the issue is more or less irrelevant.

Avatar
i-am-furious | 1 month ago
8 likes

Cycling is not a lawless act, because its totally lawful to kill a cyclist.

Using a bicycle is wild in this country because you get home from a day of being abused on the roads only to log on to your computer only to be confronted with even more rubbish. You read that a "dangerous cycling" law is the government's transport priority in the same week that a pedestrian was set free on a technicality, after pushing a 77 year old cyclist into the path of a car, killing her - because if the she hadn't died then there would have been 'no crime'.

So people try and kill you all day long, BUT there's no way for them to be punished for it because if you don't die then nothing was wrong, but if you do die, then nothing would have been wrong if you had not have died. But according to the government, the law favours cyclists too much....

...right

Avatar
mctrials23 | 1 month ago
23 likes

I think I speak for every cyclist when I say that we more than welcome being treated the same as drivers. I shall start ignoring the safety of pedestrians and when I plough into one because I couldn't be arsed to pay any attention I will expect to have my wrist slapped. If, god forbid I kill someone I will take my punishment like a man and not cycle for a few years and start making up my excuses as I get a host of friends to testify as to my character. I'll probably try and blame the pedestrian first obviously. Just in case there isn't any evidence that can probe me a liar. 

Its quite tragic that people genuinely believe that A) cyclists are a danger on any scale to anyone. B) That drivers are even remotely punished adequitely when they kill someone driving dangerously. 

Avatar
the little onion replied to mctrials23 | 1 month ago
15 likes

Killed a pedestrian? Just say the sun was in your eyes. Unless it was midnight in which case they weren't wearing high vis. Or if they were wearing high vis, say the reflections on the high vis dazzled you.

 

in Scotland, you can just say that you can't remember anything. That works for drivers

Avatar
Hirsute replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
7 likes

I thought it was a deer. I thought it was a sack of potatoes.

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Jimnm replied to mctrials23 | 1 month ago
7 likes

This current govt are the pits. They attack the homeless, the poor,the sick and the disabled. Now they're into attacking us cyclists. There are approximately 3 deaths per year when a cyclist collided with a pedestrian. It's three too many but it's minuscule compared to deaths due to RTCs in 2022 thee were 1,695 fatalities with 136,002 casualties of all severities involving motor vehicles. I'd say this govt are a bunch of incompetents and aren't fit for office. 

 

Avatar
uberdemocrat | 1 month ago
23 likes

Nice to see Good Morning Britain inviting families of victims of speeding cyclists into their studio to air their views on road safety. Presumably, they are going to hire out Wembley Stadium tomorrow, so that they can invite a similar sample of the families of victims of speeding motorists to have their say too?

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thereverent | 1 month ago
10 likes

"under review and will be considered with an open mind" sounds very much like kicked into the long grass and won't happen before the election.

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GMBasix | 1 month ago
10 likes

10...
Don't hold your breath. Time is running out for this government to give any time to spurious legislation. How much time have they got left?

9...

8...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to GMBasix | 1 month ago
2 likes

They could promise to "stop the scrotes" by deporting three takeaway delivery cyclists to Ruthenia?  Or that if you drive to a polling station in a petrol or diesel vehicle and quote the special discount code "Sunak" they'll sub your fuel?

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Miller replied to GMBasix | 1 month ago
3 likes

Well exactly. Anything they say now is hot air. They'll all be washed away at the general election and not a moment too soon.

Avatar
GMBasix replied to Miller | 1 month ago
2 likes
Miller wrote:

Well exactly. Anything they say now is hot air. They'll all be washed away at the general election and not a moment too soon.

That's no good. They'll end up in the water system, and you can see what they've helped that to become.

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