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"Dangerous cycling" law will be passed following election, Labour and Conservatives confirm

A Labour spokesperson said the party "will change the law to protect people from dangerous cycling", the Conservatives having already committed to resuming the process to pass stricter legislation if they win July's election...

The prospect of "dangerous cycling" laws being introduced in the United Kingdom in the near future looks increasingly likely, Labour joining the Conservatives in committing to introduce stricter laws if they win the upcoming general election.

In a fast-paced legislative push, the government had agreed to introduce tougher laws for "dangerous cyclists" who kill or injure — the matter attracting a great deal of political and media attention since a coroner's court inquest earlier this month heard that a cyclist would face no charges for his involvement in the high-speed Regent's Park crash which saw a pensioner fatally injured, the incident taking place back in 2022.

When Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week called a general election for July 4, it put the legislation in doubt, Parliament's prorogation meaning it would not be passed in time, the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill proposed by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith having been due to be debated in the House of Lords on 6 June.

However, over the bank holiday weekend both the Conservatives and Labour pledged to introduce "dangerous cycling" laws if they are elected, suggesting legislation will be resumed following this summer's election.

Cyclists in London at night stopped at red light - copyright Simon MacMichael

"Labour will change the law to protect people from dangerous cycling, and we commend the families for their relentless campaigning," a spokesperson from Labour told the Telegraph.

"The Criminal Justice Bill was meant to be a flagship bill for his government, but Rishi Sunak walked away from his promises to these families the moment it suited him. It's understandable that the families of victims will feel let down."

Likewise, a Conservative spokesperson stressed that the party remains "committed to delivering a new offence of dangerous cycling, ensuring cyclists who ride dangerously are brought to justice".

A group of campaigners, made up of families of pedestrians killed by cyclists, had written to Sunak and Keir Starmer demanding the next prime minister passes the legislation.

"To be clear, each of us supports the idea to get more people cycling in the UK and we all recognise the benefits," the letter reportedly stated. "This is about closing a legal loophole and not an anti-cycling endeavour in any way.

"However, with the increase in people cycling, there is a concomitant increase in risk and in a modern democracy, we need adequate laws to deal with all eventualities.

"We are therefore taking the unusual step of writing to you both together to ask you to commit to finalising this simple, non-contentious but important legislation in the first session of Parliament if you are to be successful in winning the election."

It was penned by Matthew Briggs, widower of Kim Briggs killed by Charlie Alliston — the London fixed-wheel rider sentenced to 18 months for the current 'causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving' offence that can be used to prosecute cyclists in such incidents.

Cyclist in London at night with bus and red light in background - copyright Simon MacMichael

Mr Briggs has led the campaign, receiving support from Duncan Smith in the past three weeks, the Conservative politician's amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill having already passed in the House of Commons when the election was called.

While the discussion around "dangerous cycling" laws has been thrust into the spotlight by widespread coverage across certain sections of print and broadcast media this month, the proposed changes have been questioned by some who say they will do little to have any meaningful impact on road safety, the number of pedestrians injured or killed by cyclists far outweighed by the number injured or killed in collisions involving the drivers of cars.

Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman pointed out that more people are killed by lightning and cows each year than cyclists.

"It's important that we say that because there are three involving, not necessarily caused by, but three or less involving a bike rider," he explained. "And as the Secretary of State [Mark Harper] said, this is such a tiny minority. More people are killed by lightning, or cows. And that same thing [cycling] is joyous. It's good for society. And we put the focus on this minuscule, negative thing. Absolutely, everybody should obey the laws of the road. But is this really the best use of our time to be talking about this now?"

Road safety charity Brake called the attention and emphasis placed on cycling as "disproportionate".

> Conservative MP Philip Davies accused of "massive prejudice against cyclists" after "angry email rant" to constituent who questioned his "contradictory" road safety views and number plates for cyclists stance

"It feels that the focus being given to this announcement – by both government and the media – is disproportionate given the true extent of road casualties across the UK, and the lack of commitment from this government to address road safety at a strategic level," Brake's CEO Ross Moorlock said.

"If the aviation or rail industry had the safety record that roads do, planes would be grounded, and trains would be stopped.

"Given the government is so eager to act on dangerous cycling, we ask that they now continue this trend, by introducing further legislation that ensures that we see a significant and sustained reduction in road death and injury both this year and in the years to come."

And speaking in the same week that the government agreed to introduce tougher laws for "dangerous cyclists", the UK's head of roads policing spoke at-length about her wishes for making the roads safer and pointed to speeding, mobile phone use and a fall in the "basic standard of driving" as the main concerns.

Jo Shiner also made the case for stricter punishments for anti-social driving, arguing that drivers who kill or cause serious injury through their actions often receive lenient punishments when compared to other non-traffic crimes.

"If you actually compare some of the sentences the drivers who do kill people because of the way they drive versus other crimes in society, predominantly those sentences are lower and families don't feel they get the justice they deserve," she said.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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103 comments

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karlssberg | 1 week ago
1 like

I hope they remove the death by inconsiderate cycling bit.  While I abhor inconsiderate cycling, it is however holding cyclists to a considerably higher standard than other road users.

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Rendel Harris replied to karlssberg | 1 week ago
0 likes

karlssberg wrote:

I hope they remove the death by inconsiderate cycling bit.  While I abhor inconsiderate cycling, it is however holding cyclists to a considerably higher standard than other road users.

Much as I feel the proposed new laws are unnecessary fearmongering and pointless, there is already an offence of causing death by inconsiderate driving (Section 2B RTA 1988) with a maximum custodial sentence of five years, so we wouldn't be held to a higher standard.

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Fursty Ferret | 2 weeks ago
1 like

If anything this will backfire on the anti-cycling brigade. They've basically introduced presumed liability for any accident involving a cyclist and a pedestrian (even though it's almost the opposite case when a car is involved), and consequently there's no chance I'm going to use a shared pedestrian / cycle path after this, knowing that in an accident that's not my fault the system is biased to try to send me to prison for more than a decade.

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chrisonabike replied to Fursty Ferret | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I think what you've described might be not be a "backfire" but a beneficial side-effect in the eyes of the "anti-cycling brigade".  They seem to be generally unhappy with cyclists in pedestrian spaces.  (And I'd largely agree although from a different perspective).

Getting more conspiratorial you might say that the idea of "get the cyclists on the roads" is also anti-cyclist.  I think it's clear to most who've considered it for a second or two that "push cyclists to only use the roads" would be consistent with "discourage cycling".  After all "you can use the road!" has seen cycling decline to a very niche form of transport over the years - because the vast majority of people won't cycle in fast / high volume traffic.

It will also keep the negative attitudes of those in cars towards cyclists ("getting in our way!").

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Muddy Ford | 3 weeks ago
13 likes

If both Sunak and Starmer are swayed by a widower hell bent on avenging his wife's death, perhaps we could demonstrate the difference in numbers and bring a campaign to ensure all drivers who kill or seriously injure others are actually prosecuted. A campaign to ensure that police forces have a target to take positive action on x% of close pass reports, and remove the 2 week limit and 2 minute video requirement which is simply a police tactic to see if the 'cyclist deserved the close pass'.

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to Muddy Ford | 3 weeks ago
8 likes

Won't work because ....

cyclists.

 

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Owd Big 'Ead | 3 weeks ago
9 likes

If anyone expected Labour to act differently than the Tories on this legislation they should give their heads a good wobble.
Starmer is so concerned at not being seen to be anything but Tory-lite that anything the Tories do or say will be followed too.
Starmer is probably buying shares in oil based businesses as we speak.
Both Labour and the Tories need fucking off this time round.

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kingleo | 3 weeks ago
8 likes

So how many lives a year will the new law save and how much money will it save the NHS and government? the number 0 comes to mind.

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JLasTSR | 3 weeks ago
1 like

I think this legislation makes little difference to anyone., that is providing they bring it in in line with motoring law. There are a number of reasons for this. Cyclists kill pedestrians very rarely. It is often is not the cyclist's fault so again it will have no impact. To qualify as dangerous it will usually require you to be doing something that you know is significantly wrong . Such as riding without a full set of working brakes. Derestricting your electric bikes limiter or making it non pedal assist. So of the three deaths a year it is likely that considerably more than a decade will pass before anyone is convicted of this crime.

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LeadenSkies replied to JLasTSR | 3 weeks ago
10 likes
JLasTSR wrote:

To qualify as dangerous it will usually require you to be doing something that you know is significantly wrong . Such as riding without a full set of working brakes. Derestricting your electric bikes limiter or making it non pedal assist.

Don't bet on it. The dangerous driving law requires a standard of driving far below that expected of a reasonable driver. This is one of the reasons convictions are difficult - most people drive more than they walk and many take the "I am a reasonable driver" and "there but for the grace of..." approach to determining what falls far below the standard.

Given few people cycle, all will be pedestrians at some point, the same "there but for the" process will lead many juries tasked with deciding what falls well below the standard expected of a reasonable cyclist to give all benefit of any doubt to the pedestrian. I can see them blaming the cyclist for most situations.

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Velo-drone replied to JLasTSR | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Derestricting an electric bike makes it a motorbike and could (and should) be prosecuted under death by dangerous driving rather than dangerous cycling law

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wycombewheeler replied to JLasTSR | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

JLasTSR wrote:

To qualify as dangerous it will usually require you to be doing something that you know is significantly wrong

No, it will require doing something that the majority of the Jury think is wrong, like riding at excessive speed (20mph) having a hand of the handlebar (even if for signalling) not riding with fingers covering brake levers at all times. Looking behind (life saving shoulder check). Who can say what a jury or drivers who have been primed by the media to consider cyclists as reckless scofflaws who have been getting away with it for twoo long by the media will consider to be far below the level of a careful cyclist?

 

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Secret_squirrel | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

I'm not worried about this. Easy promise to make, but they'll have much bigger fish to fry for years when they get in. Bet it doesn't get a mention in their manifesto either.

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HarrogateSpa replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

I'm not so sure.

If the Criminal Justice Bill is going to be taken up by the new govt, chances are the dangerous cycling stuff will be in there.

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lonpfrb | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

It's very clear that the Crown Prosecution Service, Courts and Sentencing Council are responsible for the ease with which a motor vehicle may be used to kill people with little accountability in practice for that driver.

That's where the problem is and needs urgent action. 100 years of big auto and big oil propaganda has caused this death and serious injury cost to be accepted.

Cycling must be made a Protected Characteristic to defeat that bias.

#VisionZero

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brooksby replied to lonpfrb | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

lonpfrb wrote:

Cycling must be made a Protected Characteristic to defeat that bias.

It seems to me that if that happened then in about thirty seconds flat "driving a petrol powered motor vehicle" would also become a protected characteristic "out of fairness" and thirty seconds after that, the first court cases would be going through saying that clean air zones and the congestion charge were a breach of said protected characteristic.

Be careful what you wish for.

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lonpfrb | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

When will this anti-cycling narrative recognised as the hate speech that it is, out of all proportion to the risk or danger, rather serving dog whistle politics...

Mobile phone zombies, not looking where they are going, are a 21st century problem with a root cause of selfishness (my interest is most important) that should be as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

Briggs takes no accountability for the fully avoidable error of his partner phone zombie.

It was correct that the cyclist was accountable for riding a defective vehicle on the public highway.

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Hirsute replied to lonpfrb | 3 weeks ago
1 like

No evidence she was using the phone.
She should have used the crossing though.

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Zjtm231 replied to Hirsute | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

"He also insisted that brakes would not have made any difference when he saw Mrs Briggs come into the road with a mobile phone."
https://news.sky.com/story/fatal-crash-cyclist-charlie-alliston-tells-co...
 

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Velo-drone replied to Zjtm231 | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Other witnesses did not recall seeing her on a phone when she crossed the road.

This was covered in some detail during the trial, as you would expect, and independent witness evidence is generally going to be more compelling than a defendant's claims

(before we even get onto the considerable difference between "with a mobile phone" and "on a mobile phone")

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Hirsute replied to Zjtm231 | 3 weeks ago
1 like

With is not the same as on her phone as was claimed earlier.

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Velo-drone replied to lonpfrb | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

While the new law is unnecessary, this take is weird, callous and vaguely misogynistic. I'll give benefit of doubt that the latter is due to being badly worded, but ...

1) Matt Briggs should not and cannot "take accountability" for his wife's actions, whatever they were. They were her own actions, and she was not his robot or his pet, she was his wife

2) The problem with the law is not on itself per se - there's nothing inherently bad about criminalising death by dangerous cycling.

3) As has been noted, there is no evidence the pedestrian was on a phone.

4) the cyclist was not riding a 'defective' vehicle. It was a fixie, which brakes by back pedalling rather than by clamping on the rims - there is no evidence it was in anything but good working order - albeit strictly physical brakes are required for a bicycle sold for use on the road.

In the particular case, it was alleged that the cyclist saw her crossing and yelled rather than slowing down - and then collided when she kept back as he tried to swerve behind her.

We can't re-try the case here, but I think it's safe to say that if a motorist , observing a pedestrian crossing ahead of them chose to blast the horn and not slow down, and then hit and killed the pedestrian when they could have stopped then they would most likely have taken at least an 18 month sentence.

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brooksby replied to Velo-drone | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Velo-drone wrote:

In the particular case, it was alleged that the cyclist saw her crossing and yelled rather than slowing down - and then collided when she kept back as he tried to swerve behind her.

IIRC it was also alleged that Alliston yelled and went to go behind her as she was crossing, at which point she didn't so much "keep back" as "leap backwards" (right into his line).

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Velo-drone replied to brooksby | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Yes that was a typo, and should have read "leapt".

But this is an entirely normal and common reaction to being yelled at, or just being startled by suddenly realising danger.

Anyone who cycles regularly in the busier parts of London will have seen this sort of reaction many times and be aware that pedestrians crossing when they shouldn't are liable to behave unpredictably.

The issue that was at question is court was whether or not it is an acceptable course of action to yell, not slow down, and declare that it's entirely their responsibility to get out of your way.
He said braking wouldn't have made a difference. The court clearly wasn't convinced - or at least wasn't convinced that it was not worth trying.

And of course, the new Highway Code and hierarchy of road users is considerably more explicit than then that both motorists and cyclists owe a higher level of care towards pedestrians - but the principle was always in there, even before the changes.

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Rendel Harris replied to Velo-drone | 3 weeks ago
10 likes

Velo-drone wrote:

I think it's safe to say that if a motorist , observing a pedestrian crossing ahead of them chose to blast the horn and not slow down, and then hit and killed the pedestrian when they could have stopped then they would most likely have taken at least an 18 month sentence.

Really? Try a quick Google of "motorist killed pedestrian escapes jail":

A speeding motorist who ran into and killed a pedestrian as she crossed the road has escaped jail because there was no official 30mph limit sign on the road. Michael Campbell, aged 40, was travelling at 41-49mph in a 30mph zone when he knocked down 44-year-old Jaye Bloomfield in Manchester, who was wheeling her bicycle across a pedestrian crossing.

https://tmsconveyancing.com/news-updates/general/7567/Speeding-motorist-...

A driver who ran a red light and killed a cyclist who was riding on a pedestrian crossing has escaped jail after being found guilty of causing death by careless driving. Rouguiatou Fofana was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years at Coventry Crown Court on Friday for causing the death of Craig Mulligan. Fofana, 34, was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving after hitting 34-year-old Mr Mulligan on November 1, 2012. The court heard that she was travelling at 32-38mph in a 30mph zone and made no attempt to slow down when the lights on the crossing turned red.

https://road.cc/content/news/labour-and-conservatives-pledge-dangerous-c...

A motorist found guilty of causing the death by careless driving of a 79-year-old man in a low speed accident on a pedestrian crossing has escaped jail. Last month, a Swansea Crown Court jury cleared Matthew Gealy, 34, of Port Tennant, Swansea, of causing Ghalib Saleh Abdullah’s death by dangerous driving but convicted him unanimously of causing death by careless driving. Judge Keith Thomas banned father-of-two Gealy from driving for three years, gave him a 40 week jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered him to do 250 hours unpaid work for the community.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/motorist-disqualified-afte...

 

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Velo-drone replied to Rendel Harris | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I am of course aware of many outcomes such as these. However you have missed my point entirely, as none of the summaries you give make any reference to whether the motorist saw the person the road, but decided to blast their horn at them rather than making any effort to brake.

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Rendel Harris replied to Velo-drone | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Velo-drone wrote:

I am of course aware of many outcomes such as these. However you have missed my point entirely, as none of the summaries you give make any reference to whether the motorist saw the person the road, but decided to blast their horn at them rather than making any effort to brake.

I understand your point entirely, and I refute it because it is entirely invalid. You have made up a situation that does not correspond with the reality of the Alliston/Briggs incident. A comparable situation for a motorist would be seeing a pedestrian crossing the road, slowing, sounding their horn and then, when the pedestrian has passed across in front of them, going to drive round the back of them only to find that they had jumped back into their path. The allegation that Alliston ploughed on regardless doing nothing but shout is simply untrue; even the judge conceded in her sentencing remarks that "you did indeed swerve and slow to between 10-14 mph as you went through the yellow-box at the junction of Old St and Charlotte Road", so your scenario of a car driver who saw a pedestrian and decided to make no effort to brake and only sound the horn instead is in no way comparable.

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Zjtm231 replied to Velo-drone | 3 weeks ago
1 like

"He also insisted that brakes would not have made any difference when he saw Mrs Briggs come into the road with a mobile phone."
https://news.sky.com/story/fatal-crash-cyclist-charlie-alliston-tells-co...(link is external)
 

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john_smith replied to Velo-drone | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Velo-drone wrote:

but I think it's safe to say that if a motorist , observing a pedestrian crossing ahead of them chose to blast the horn and not slow down, and then hit and killed the pedestrian when they could have stopped then they would most likely have taken at least an 18 month sentence.

But a bike isn't a car. It's far narrower and handles very differently. While a motorist faced with a pedestrian dead ahead will have little choice but to brake as hard as possible, it might be more appropriate for a cyclist to attempt to steer around the pedestrian. Really hard braking on a bike will generally result in the rear wheel lifting off the road or the bike sliding, and makes steering difficult, if not impossible. So while braking might slow the bike down, it could turn avoiding a collision with the pedestrian into a game of chance over which the cyclist has little control.

 

 

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anotherflat replied to Velo-drone | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

He attempted to avoid the collision and made an audible warning. Emergency braking with only a rear brake would almost certainly resulted in a rear wheel skid and the bike carrying straight on. He was negligent in not having a fitted front brake. Was he sentenced more harshly than an equivalently negligent driver? Undoubtedly

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