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New Laws Could Make Cyclists Who Kill Pedestrians ‘Face Same Laws As Motorists’

New Laws Could Make Cyclists Who Kill Pedestrians ‘Face Same Laws As Motorists’

Cyclists who kill pedestrians

The Department of Transport is to consider implementing policy changes that would render cyclists subject to the same laws for causing death and serious injury on the road as car drivers and other motorists, after a review commissioned by the government concluded that there is a “persuasive case” to “bring cycling into line with driving offences.

Legal experts instructed by Parliament to complete an independent road safety review were asked to examine the merits of changing the law to create a cycling offence equivalent to those faced by motorists for causing death or serious injury by dangerous or careless driving.

The review was launched in September 2017, following growing pressure for the law to regulate cyclists more carefully, after pedestrian Kim Briggs was killed in a collision with a courier riding an illegal, fixed-wheel racing bike with no front brakes at 18mph.

Due to the gap in the law, cyclist Charlie Alliston was convicted under an archaic, Victorian offence of causing bodily harm by “wanton and furious driving” — sparking campaigners to call for reforms to modernise the law around cycling.

Mrs. Briggs’ widower has beseeched the government “to follow the recommendation of the report and quickly redress this legal anomaly”.

In his statement, Matthew Briggs said: “I simply do not want yet another family to suffer the consequences of hopelessly inadequate and outdated legislation with the delays and confusion that simply compounded our grief after the tragedy of losing Kim.”

Modernised UK cycling laws would follow the European lead

Experts conducting the review noted that legislation in Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany all applied “normal driving laws . . . equally to cyclists”, and recommended changes to the UK’s Road Traffic Act to include “mechanically propelled vehicles” in those liable for offences of causing death or serious injury by dangerous or careless driving.

According to some however, this proposed reform will not go far enough in effectively improving road safety. Charity group Cycling UK has cited statistics that, out of 448 incidents of pedestrians being killed in road accidents in 2016, only 3 fatalities involved bicycles.

Meanwhile, injury lawyers have pointed out that cyclists are not insured so a greater legal inequality between cyclists and motorists must be addressed. They argue that current law leaves the victims of reckless cycling unable to claim adequate compensation for their suffering.

One solicitor questioned noted: “A law change does not offer practical help to people injured in cycling collisions or the families of those killed, unless it encourages cyclists to be insured.”

Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore emphasised that reforms to road safety legislation would have to look further than cycling, stating:

“Adding one or two new offences specific to cyclists would just be tinkering around the edges, especially when the way that mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users is dealt with hasn’t been fit for purpose for years. That system can’t be fixed simply by bolting on one or two new cycling offences to something which isn’t working now.”

Drivers to face stricter laws for aggressive driving

The Department for Transport is also imposing new mandatory passing distances to stop motorists from overtaking too closely to cyclists, in efforts to clamp down on intimidating and aggressive driving.

The maximum sentence for motorists who cause fatalities and serious injuries is also set to be increased, with the Government looking to raise sentencing from 14 years to life imprisonment in the most serious cases.

Dominic Raab MP said of the sentencing increase: “Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.

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