The Government is set to outline proposals for a new ‘death by dangerous cycling’ criminal offence, it was widely reported over the weekend.
In September 2017, Theresa May announced the Government was considering introducing new legislation to address dangerous behaviour by cyclists.
This followed the case of cyclist Charlie Alliston – who knocked over and killed a female pedestrian, Kim Briggs. Mr Alliston – whose fixed gear bike had no front brakes – was cleared of manslaughter but convicted under the 19th century offence of ‘wanton or furious driving’.
According to the Mail on Sunday, the Government review is expected to recommend the new offence, which would carry the same penalties as causing death by dangerous driving – up to 14 years in prison.
However, yesterday (4 March) the roads minister Jesse Norman described the press reports as ‘speculative and in some cases misleading’, and encouraged people to ‘wait for the review itself’.
Important to be clear that press reports today are speculative and in some cases misleading. I would encourage people to wait for the review itself. https://t.co/mI00kXCbU0
— Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman) March 4, 2018
The announcement has been met with criticism from some cycling stakeholders, who suggest the focus should be to reduce deaths caused by dangerous drivers.
Labour MP Ian Austin, head of the all-party parliamentary cycling group, told the Guardian: “Each death is a tragedy but what I and others have been calling for is a proper review of road safety and how the law is enforced when people are killed or injured because many more pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by people driving cars.
“They are a much greater danger to pedestrians and should be the focus of government resources.”
Xavier Brice, chief executive of Sustrans, told the Guardian: “Every death is a personal tragedy and I can understand the desire to close the apparent gap in the law.
“But every year the number of people travelling on foot and by bike killed or seriously injured by motor vehicles in this country is a national tragedy.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “We are carrying out a review to improve all elements of cycle safety.
“This includes looking at the case for a new offence, equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving, to help protect both cyclists and pedestrians.”