With the recent press release from the Department for Transport (DfT) opening the consultation around the proposal of new UK laws to tackle reckless cycling, from less serious breaches right up to ‘death by dangerous cycling’. Supporters of the consultation have also been calling for cyclist regulation measures to, once again, be reviewed. Road cyclist tests and mandatory licenses and the accompanying road tax and insurance for example have been suggested in the past.
The proposal set by DfT comes after the death of Kim Briggs who was killed by a bike courier using a bicylce with no front brakes in 2017. The cyclist in question, Charlie Alliston was sentenced to 18 months for ‘causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving’ with many campaigners ‘furious’ insisting the ‘double-standard’ between reckless drivers and cyclists needed to be addressed.
On launching the consultation into dangerous cycling, Roads Minister Jesse Norman inc: “I have already announced improvements for safety for cyclists on close passing, supporting the police to take action against drivers who do not give enough room to cyclists when overtaking… but there is another side of road safety which relies on cycling behaviour. Behaving dangerously, whether in a car or on a cycle, risks the lives of other road users and is completely unacceptable. Victims who are killed or seriously injured, and their families, suffer the same consequences whether the harm is caused by a cyclist or motorist”
Alongside its promise to crack down on “dangerous cycling” the DfT says it plans to design new guidance for local authorities when planning cycling infrastructure. It was back in June 2018, that the DfT announced plans to clamp down on close passes and spend money on training driving instructors about cycling safety.
Road safety officer Neil Worth from GEM Motoring Assist commented on the issue: “We want to encourage more people to discover the health benefits and enjoyment of cycling, but we want all road users to feel equal under the law. That’s why we believe that cyclists who kill or seriously injure pedestrians should be treated in the same way as dangerous drivers.
In contrast, statistics show that the number of cases involving collisions between cyclists and pedestrians remains relatively low with Department for Transport own figures for 2016 stating that 448 pedestrians were killed on Britain's roads, but only three cases involved bicycles. Duncan Dollimore, road safety officer for Cycling UK, agreed legislation was outdated but called for a "complete review of the way in which the justice system deals with mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users. Adding one or two new offences specific to cyclists would be merely tinkering around the edges”
Is the consultation a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction due to public outcry from the well-publicised case of Charlie Alliston? Or is it a well overdue review into an extremely dated Highway Code and road traffic laws?