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MP says justice system too often fails to punish drivers who hit cyclists

Evidence given at first session of parliamentary inquiry into road justice

Ruth Cadbury MP has said that the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s (APPCG) inquiry into Cycling and the Justice System, which began yesterday, will investigate whether more needs to be done to tighten up the investigation and prosecution of drivers who have injured or killed cyclists.

“We know there are examples where cyclists have not received the justice that they deserved,” Cadbury told the London Evening Standard, adding “… when cyclists are involved in crashes and have life changing injuries, too often the justice system fails to punish the driver adequately.”

At the first of five hearings, MPs heard from representatives from Cycling UK and RoadPeace, as well as from personal injury lawyer Martin Porter QC.

Cycling UK told the inquiry that the issuance of driving disqualifications is down in the last 10 years, and argued that the right to drive is put ahead of the safety of vulnerable road users.

RoadPeace said that the Highway Code was due for an update with Martin Porter highlighting Rule 163 regarding overtaking as being in particular need of clarification.

Porter also said that there was an element of victim blaming in the Highway Code due to its guidelines on clothing.

Cycling UK said that both the driving test and the Highway Code should look into the issue of car-dooring and recommended the introduction of the Dutch reach in training.

Discussion also centred on the use of helmet cameras and West Midlands Police’s close pass initiative. While that operation was lauded, Cycling UK and RoadPeace said there was an issue with police priorities whereby vulnerable road users’ concerns were not always taken seriously.

The case of Mick Mason was highlighted where a private prosecution has been brought after the Metropolitan Police Service decided not to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The inquiry later heard from Julie Dinsdale, who lost her leg in a crash at Old Street in 2015, and her partner Keith Bontrager. The two are fighting for compensation after the lorry driver involved was fined £625 and given five points on his licence after admitting driving without due care and attention.

Bontrager described the situation amongst road users in this country as adversarial and cited Copenhagen and Amsterdam as being places where this was not the case.

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