UK Politics

Death-by-dangerous-cycling law considered

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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