Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has vowed to bring forward a ‘death by dangerous cycling’ law targeted at cyclists who kill pedestrians – but campaigners stress deaths caused by cyclists are a fraction of those caused by dangerous drivers.
Mr Shapps said the measure, to be included in the Transport Bill set to be brought forward under the next Prime Minister in the autumn, would create a specific offence for dangerous cyclists and close a “loophole” where cyclists who kill can currently only face a two-year jail sentence.
He told Mail+: “We need the cycling equivalent of death by dangerous driving to close a gap in the law and impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care.
“For example, traffic lights are there to regulate all traffic. But a selfish minority of cyclists appear to believe that they are somehow immune to red lights.
“We need to crack down on this disregard for road safety. Relatives of victims have waited too long for this straightforward measure.”
Matthew Briggs, whose wife was killed by a cyclist in 2016 and has spent years campaigning for the change, told the Today programme: “For me, it’s never been about the degree of punishment… it’s been about the complication, the chaos and the hurt and the confusion that comes along with the fact that there are no (specific) laws which apply to cyclists.”
He added: “It is rare, but it keeps happening. And it needs to be sorted. It is a very simple clarification, a tidying up of the law.”
Dr Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive of the London Cycling Campaign, told i that while he has no issue with the change in principle, it is important to also focus on the much greater number of driving-related deaths.
He said: “The greatest number of deaths and serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists are caused by cars. We routinely see every single day law breaking by motorists – running red lights, turning corners at speed without any attention to pedestrians crossing.
“It’s fine to change the [cycling] sentencing regime. But where is the commensurate effort being put into dangerous driving which kills, maims and destroys lives, routinely. I would like to see action taken to address that.”
Professor Chris Oliver, cycling enthusiast and retired surgeon told i: “It’s very rare for a pedestrian to be killed by a cyclist.”
“In 2015, two pedestrians were killed and 96 seriously injured after being in a collision with a bicycle. These accidents created a huge amount of interest in the media.
“To put those deaths in context, every year in the last decade, about 100 cyclists are killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured on UK roads. By far, the majority is by car-driving motorists.
“There does need to be some proportionate tightening of the law for cyclists accidentally killing pedestrians. Everyone should obey the Highway Code.”
The step come six years after the death of Kim Briggs, who was hit by a bike while crossing a road in east London in February 2016.
Charlie Alliston, then 18, was illegally riding a fixed-wheel bike without front brakes at 18mph, killing Briggs, 44.
Alliston was jailed for only 18 months because no law existed to charge him that equated the incident with causing death by dangerous driving.
Prosecutors relied on the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, which is only created to cover offences related to horse-drawn carriages, to secure in the end a conviction of causing bodily harm by ‘wanton or furious driving’.
The Government launched a review in 2017 to investigate whether an equivalent offence to causing death by dangerous driving was needed for cyclists.
Changes to the Highway Code earlier this year reinforced priority for pedestrians crossing a road in some situations.