Death-by-dangerous-cycling law considered


Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom urges MPs to back a change to the law

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Cyclists who kill or seriously hurt pedestrians could be prosecuted like dangerous drivers under new laws being considered by the government.

Drivers convicted of death by dangerous driving face up to 14 years in jail.

But there is currently no law against causing death by dangerous cycling, with most cases of careless cycling being dealt with by fines.

Ten pedestrians were killed by cyclists and 262 seriously injured between 2005 and 2009, official figures say.

Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom last month introduced a private member's bill to the Commons, proposing a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.

She used the example of 17-year-old Rhiannon Bennett, who was knocked down and killed by cyclist John Howard as she walked with friends in Buckingham in April 2007.

'Travelling fast'
Graph showing the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured by cyclists between 2005 and 2009

The South Northamptonshire MP told the Commons: "There needs to be a charge that reflects the seriousness and consequences of a cyclist's actions."

"A cyclist approached the group at speed, jumping from the road to cut across the pavement and yelling, 'Move! I'm not stopping!"'

"He was travelling so fast the group had no time to act. He hit Rhiannon, knocking her over and smashing her head against the kerb.

"She was rushed to hospital with head injuries and she died six days later."

Magistrates later convicted Howard, then aged 36, of Buckingham, of dangerous cycling and fined him £2,200.

Mrs Leadsom compared the penalty with the maximum 14-year jail term to which a judge could sentence a motorist convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

Normally, private members' bills stand little chance of becoming law, without government backing.

But the Department of Transport told BBC News it was considering backing the proposed legislation and would make a decision "in due course" after consultation with the Ministry of Justice.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "I have met with Rhiannon Bennett's family and have the deepest sympathy with them.

"I am clear that everyone who uses the road - including cyclists - has a responsibility to behave safely and with consideration for others.

"My Department will consider the merits of the proposed Dangerous and Reckless Cycling Bill in consultation with the Ministry of Justice."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    There is an offence under the 1861 Offences against the Persons Act that covers reckless cycling adequately with two years imprisonment.

    Whatever the Law the problem will still be producing Evidence in court and then persuading the Courts to impose adequate penalties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    In my days I cycled around 3500 mile per year. However, I have to say, I suffered more incidents than I may have caused. I was once knocked off my bike because a car undertook another, despite the red cycle lane, he claimed he did not notice it? I have had several incidents where, on a joint cycle/pedestrians path the pedestrians use the wrong lane/side. It’s not all us you know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    If you are going to introduce laws that mean people need insurance and/or tax to ride a bike, you will then need to bring in laws about what age people are allowed to ride a bike on a public highway - this will mean that children won't be allowed to ride a bike in the street. Hardly a vote winner - or do we treat them differently in law? What age do you have to be to be culpable?

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    The cyclist reported was a menace but as a cyclist myself at times Ive had pedestrians walk straight out into the road [not looking of course] knocking me of my bike does that mean I can prosecute the pedestrian? Or will it be as usual the cyclist fault. Ive had the same with motorists driving so close I was knocked off indeed one time it was the car behind that stopped to see if I was hurt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    As a serious cyclist, I completely agree with this proposal. I carry liability insurance, adhere to the rules of the road (unless my safety is in danger), and am courteous to other road users, so why wouldn't anyone agree with this?
    A sensible act with provisions for cyclists acting in their own safety (and not their own haste) would make sense.


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