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'Dangerous cycling bill' will not become law, after UK general election announced by Rishi Sunak

The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill was due to be debated in the House of Lords on 6 June, but will now fall through after the Parliament’s prorogation

The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill set to introduce tougher legislation for cyclists who kill or injure through dangerous or careless cycling, after being agreed upon last week, is now set to be ditched due to yesterday's announcement by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for a general election on 4 July, it has been reported.

On 15 May, ministers supported former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith's proposal to introduce the specific offence of "causing death by dangerous, careless, or inconsiderate cycling, and causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate cycling", which would lead to tougher penalties for those who kill or injure while riding bikes, e-bikes, electric scooters, unicycles, and "personal transporters".

> Government agrees to introduce tougher laws for “dangerous cyclists” who kill or injure, as Transport Secretary says “it’s only right tiny minority who recklessly disregard others face full weight of the law”

The amendments would have replaced the current legislation with which cyclists who kill or injure while riding recklessly can be prosecuted under the 1861 ‘wanton or furious driving’ law, which carries with it a maximum sentence of two years in prison. 

However, now Forbes' transport journalist Carlton Reid has reported that the amendment will now not go forward, with an announcement published on the House of Lords Library yesterday saying that the Bill is set to be debated in the second chamber of the Parliament on 6 June, now rendered void.

"There isn’t enough time for [the law to pass through the House of Lords],| a parliamentary insider has been quoted as saying. Reid adds: "This is because the Criminal Justice Bill is contentious legislation and could have been challenged by the upper chamber. Other laws are likely to passed in the so-called 'wash-up' period before parliament is dissolved on May 30 ahead of election campaigning."

Duncan Smith’s amendments had been welcomed by Matthew Briggs, a longstanding campaigner for a dangerous cycling law, whose wife Kim was hit and killed by a cyclist riding with no front brakes in London in 2016, with the cyclist Charlie Alliston later being jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of causing bodily harm by "wanton and furious riding".

> “That new dangerous cycling law can’t come soon enough”: BMW driver crashes spectacularly into bike stand on pavement – prompting cyclists to ask, “when will Mark Harper do anything about this?”

After the news that the proposed bill will not be made into a law, the 'KimBriggsCampaign' Twitter account, which has been calling for the "dangerous cycling law" to be introduced into the Criminal Justice Bill, said: "Whilst I’m no const[itutional] expert - I understand that all legislation passing through Lords will fall after prorogation.

Previously, Matthew Briggs, who runs the account, had said that he will delete his seven-year-old social media accounts pressing for a law change but he will now continue campaigning.

"If that’s the case then we will be back. The bill has cross party backing & the main work is done. These incidents will keep happening and the spotlight will return. There are a number of possible routes being by highlighted to me this evening," he wrote.

As of now, Labour whips are said to be holding talks to work out what outstanding legislation can become law before the end of the current parliamentary session, which includes extending support for passing the Victims and Prisoners Bill to establish a compensation scheme for victims of the NHS infected blood scandal. However, it's alluded that the Criminal Justice Bill will not receive such backing.

Announcing the government’s backing of Duncan Smith’s amendments on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Most cyclists, like most drivers, are responsible and considerate. But it’s only right that the tiny minority who recklessly disregard others face the full weight of the law for doing so.

"Just like car drivers who flout the law, we are backing this legislation introducing new offences around dangerous cycling. These new measures will help protect law-abiding cyclists, pedestrians, and other road users, whilst ensuring justice is done.

"I would like to thank Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP for bringing forward this amendment, and to all the campaigners who have tirelessly highlighted this issue – this is in recognition of their efforts in particular."

> "If the aviation or rail industry had the safety record that roads do, planes would be grounded, and trains would be stopped": Brake road safety charity latest to respond to government's 'dangerous cycling' bill

In January 2022, Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps first raised the issue before declaring his intention to introduce the law again later that year during his infamous summer of backpedalling and U-turns that saw him suggest – and almost immediately retract – that cyclists should have licences, number plates, be insured, and subject to speed limits.

On Tuesday, the ministers' decision to pass the amendment was slammed by the road safety charity Brake, which responded by calling the attention and emphasis placed on cycling as "disproportionate". 

Brake cited statistics that shown nine people were killed in collisions involving a cyclist between 2018-2022, while just in 2022, 1,766 people died and 29,000 were injured on the roads in total. The charity mentions Chris Boardman's interview on BBC News, in which he said more people are killed by lightning and cows each year than cyclists. 

Brake's CEO Ross Moorlock said: "Every road death and injury is devastating for the families involved, and we welcome robust and fair sentencing for any road user who kills or harms through reckless behaviour.

"However, 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.

"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."

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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48 comments

Avatar
mitsky | 1 month ago
1 like

Shirley the headline should be - "Dangerous" cycling bill... - ...?

To properly highlight the relevant part of the story.

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Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
21 likes

Oh no, what about the zero lives the bill would've saved and the no serious injuries it would've prevented?

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quiff | 1 month ago
8 likes

TBH, I wouldn't particularly mind even if the next government does revive this. As long as they do something about funding enforcement and reviewing other road offences.   

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the little onion | 1 month ago
2 likes

Thank goodness for that. Hopefully dead, buried in a concrete and steel sarcophagus, and buried several hundred metres down in deep geological storage.

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morgoth985 replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
0 likes

Should happen, but won't.

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The_Ewan replied to morgoth985 | 1 month ago
7 likes

There's no real incentive for Labour to pick this up after the election. Whether they particularly object to it or not, they don't benefit from the culture war narrative it feeds, and they won't be in campaign mode anyway because they'll have just won an election.

It's pretty dead.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to The_Ewan | 1 month ago
4 likes

Sadly the same logic applies to transport improvements in general (barring their commitment to look at the railways).

So don't expect that review of all road offenses, or the Road Safety Investigation Branch to swing into action, or sorting out illegal e-whatevers, or restoring the active travel funding which was cut (never mind making it less than pocket lint) etc.

I have no issue about having a review of cycling offenses - but it seems pretty clear it wouldn't have any deterrent effect.  And laws don't change much where it seems the road police / CPS resources will ensure that few offenses are detected or brought to court with "the full weight of the law".

All road deaths are tragic but it is hard not to ask "why extra laws about a really rare class of offenses (which do indeed already attract similar punishments in practice) at the same time as stalling on the far more common ones?"  Seen in the context of all the things the government could have done but didn't, or promised / enacted but then put on a shelf, and what they actually put our money into ...

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Hirsute replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
2 likes

But no point outside of the fundamental review of traffic offences. 10 years overdue.

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stonojnr replied to The_Ewan | 1 month ago
2 likes

It's not, because the criminal justice Bill covered a raft of measures around knife crime, treatment for drug users,new powers to tackle serious and organised crime, tackling violence against women, increasing prison capacity and enhancing public confidence in the police in light of the commitments made to the Hillsborough families.

Are you saying the next goverment won't tackle any of those issues ?

The IDS amendment for dangerous cycling laws was a tiny part of a larger bill,that will almost certainly return in some form in the next parliament.

Either in its current form or even if the bill is redrafted anew, the amendments are likely to be proposed again, & there has been no one in parliament publicly opposing it.

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Tom_77 replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
8 likes

Will the IDS amendment return if IDS does not?

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stonojnr replied to Tom_77 | 1 month ago
2 likes

It's an interesting question for sure i dont know how theyd cope with that, maybe it will only need another MP to second the amendment if he loses his seat, fwiw I believe he'll be bumped to the Lords anyway, and they can propose amendments as well.

Do you really think Briggs is going to give up now, after 8 years of campaigning, having got this close ?

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wycombewheeler replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
0 likes
stonojnr wrote:

the amendments are likely to be proposed again, .

by whom?

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stonojnr replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
1 like

Any of the 650 useful idiots that get elected, you don't have to be an MP in the party that forms government to propose amendments to bills.

And whom is going to vote against it in a division ?

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wycombewheeler replied to The_Ewan | 1 month ago
1 like
The_Ewan wrote:

There's no real incentive for Labour to pick this up after the election. Whether they particularly object to it or not, they don't benefit from the culture war narrative it feeds, and they won't be in campaign mode anyway because they'll have just won an election.

It's pretty dead.

even if they did benefit from the culture war, their majority is going to be so large, they will need to put in a second tier on the government benches.

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wycombewheeler replied to The_Ewan | 1 month ago
1 like
The_Ewan wrote:

There's no real incentive for Labour to pick this up after the election. Whether they particularly object to it or not, they don't benefit from the culture war narrative it feeds, and they won't be in campaign mode anyway because they'll have just won an election.

It's pretty dead.

Not necessarily, because it is one amendment on a massive bill. If they agree with the rest of the bill they can push it through for expedience, because no one cares enough to remove it. 

To abandon the entire bill would see them facing allegations of being "soft on crime". They could of course ignore those, with a majority of over 200, and over 4 years until the next election.

So really it depends on whether the bill as a whole is full of authoritarian things like banning protests, stopping boats, shipping refugees to Rwanda or actually sensible policies that a rational person would consider an improvement in law and order.

Yeah, you're right, it's probably dead

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morgoth985 replied to The_Ewan | 1 month ago
1 like

See the report of the HoL debates on this today.  There are lots of people out there who have an utterly irrational hatred of cyclists and not all of them belong to the Conservative Party.

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KDee replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
2 likes

The bill, or the Tory death cult?

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marmotte27 replied to KDee | 1 month ago
1 like
KDee wrote:

The bill, or the Tory death cult?

Both. Plus the whole rest of the rightwing caboodle.

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