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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”

Ministers back an amendment to Criminal Justice Bill, put forward by Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, to introduce the offence of ‘causing death by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, and causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate cycling

The government has agreed to introduce tougher legislation to prosecute cyclists who kill or injure through dangerous or careless cycling, after ministers backed a series of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill tabled by Sir Iain Duncan Smith which aim to ensure people on bikes “face the same penalties as drivers and motorcyclists” responsible for the death of pedestrians.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the proposed legislation would ensure the “tiny minority” of reckless cyclists would face the “full weight of the law”, while protecting “law-abiding cyclists”.

On Wednesday, ministers supported former Conservative leader 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”.

As we reported last week, the amendments would replace 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.

According to Duncan Smith’s proposals, bikes would also be legally required to be “equipped and maintained” to standards set out in the Act.

The government will now bring forward an updated amendment to Home Secretary James Cleverly’s Criminal Justice Bill before it is put up for debate in the House of Lords.

> Iain Duncan Smith calls for creation of “causing death by dangerous, careless, or inconsiderate cycling” law

The topic of dangerous cycling has attracted widespread national print and broadcast media coverage in recent weeks in the aftermath of a coroner’s inquest being told that no charges would be brought against a cyclist who was riding laps of London’s Regent’s Park when he crashed into a pensioner, causing her fatal injuries.

The cyclist, Brian Fitzgerald, was riding in a group at a speed of between 25mph and 29mph at the time of the fatal crash, which led to the death of 81-year-old Hilda Griffiths. The speed limit in the park is 20mph, but the Metropolitan Police confirmed that it does not apply to people riding bicycles (as is the case throughout the country), and that the case had been closed because there was “insufficient evidence for a real prospect of conviction”.

Duncan Smith’s amendments were 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”.

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.”

> Transport Secretary says tougher laws for dangerous cyclists "under review" and will be considered "with an open mind"

The government’s backing of Duncan Smith’s amendments brings an apparent end to years of debate around tougher dangerous cycling laws, in and out of parliament.

Former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps first raised the issue in January 2022, 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.

In June 2023, however, it was reported that the Department for Transport had admitted to campaigners that there is a lack of parliamentary time to implement such a law before the next general election, with attention then being turned to a private member’s bill as the primary hope of securing legislative success for the initiative.

But in September, Justice Minister Edward Argar confirmed to parliament that the government was still considering legislation to tackle “dangerous cycling”, after former Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom asked what work was being done to “make sure that the sentencing for those convicted of dangerous cycling is equalised with the sentencing guidelines for those convicted of dangerous driving.”

And last week, in a clear indicator of the direction the government was intent on taking, Harper revealed that he was planning to review Duncan Smith’s amendments with “an open mind”.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the Transport Secretary also claimed his government remains committed to promoting active travel schemes, a claim many will question given the ongoing funding controversies and lack of mention of cycling policies during his party conference speech last autumn that was slammed by Cycling UK as an “ill-fated attempt to win” votes with pro-motoring policies, while “undermining” active travel success.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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113 comments

Avatar
eburtthebike | 4 weeks ago
7 likes

“it’s only right tiny minority who recklessly disregard others face full weight of the law”

Of course.  But not the reckless majority.

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Mr Hoopdriver | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

And on today's Telegraph (as shown on the BBC's papers page) :-

 

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hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
10 likes

Despite everyone complaining about this law - I think it'll make us cyclists think twice before we go out to murder people with our careless/dangerous cycling. We'd better get all the killing in now before this law hits the books.

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hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
7 likes

I'm going to ask my MP about extending the legislation to Zwift users as they post some dangerously fast speeds and their casualty rate is only a little bit less than for other cyclists.

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hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
16 likes

Never mind the killer cyclists - what about the Post Office management? They've killed more people in the last 10 years or so than cyclists have and yet not a single one has faced any consequences for their lying and bullying.

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richliv | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I thought I would read that DT article before commenting. It wasn't as rabid as expected and apart from the obvious inaccuracies on KOM speeds (52mph on flat? right), it does have a point about groups of fast cyclists in a shared public space in the centre of our largest city. We have the right to time trial, do chainies etc in the park but it might not be a good idea.

The law change is dumb, dog whistle politics, though. The old lady stepped into the path of a cyclists who was not at fault. Is the direction of travel here that 29mph will henceforth be considered to be a dangerous speed and therefore prosecutable under a new law, even though bikes aren't subject to a speed limit? I don't see it changes anything, just the penalty for a rare event.

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Mr Hoopdriver | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

The more I think about this, the more I worry about its scope and ramifications.

I think Duncan-Smith is either knowingly lying when he says 'this is not an anti-cycling measure' or he is incredibly stupid and hasn't thought it through.  These conditions are not mutually exclusive.

I am worried that this is pernicious legislation aimed at every cyclist, even the careful and considerate ones who currently ride on pavements because they feel that being amongst motorised drivers is too dangerous.

75 year old Mrs Smith steps out of her front door onto the pavement without looking and into the path of 16 year old Liam on his new mountain bike.  Following the collision, Liam sustains a broken arm, Mrs Smith a broken hip and dies in hospital a few days later following complications.

Will Liam face a possible life sentence ?

What if, instead, Mrs Smith steps off the pavement into the road without looking and they collide with the same results.  Will Liam face a possible life sentence if somebody deems that he was riding dangerously because he was looking down while he was putting his water bottle back into the holder ?

Does anybody think that Liam will get a fair hearing in front of a jury of twelve car drivers ? 

Can anybody define dangerous cycling ?  I think cycling by it's very nature of mixing with motorised traffic is classed as 'dangerous' by anybody who doesn't cycle. 

'Careful and Competent' gets thrown around a lot but with cycling it's not easy to define careful and competent when the reason most people give for not cycling is that it's too dangerous.  Anybody careful and competent surely shouldn't be undertaking a dangerous activity like cycling.

There's also the problem of expert opinion.  I'm pretty certain that an expert can be found that can define dangerous cycling in any way the CPS requires and how do screen for conflicts of interest ?  I have read quite a few articles on the trial of Mr Alliston and it doesn't give me confidence in the quality of the experts that were called and I remember eyebrows were raised about the stopping distances that were used.

Another issue is the 'properly maintained' clause.  Why throw that in ?  Is it dangerous because you don't have pedal reflectors, will it be used against you in a court hearing because your front brake wasn't adjusted correctly ?

Dangerous and pernicious and I'm concerned.

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Eton Rifle | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Sitting at a restaurant in Mumbles in cycling kit yesterday. Group of elderly people at next table. We exchange a few friendly words. First thing a Gammon says to me, unprompted is "you know there's now a law about death by cycling?" Told him that it would be nice if the existing laws were actually applied to dangerous drivers. Thick cunt had no idea what I was talking about. Seriously, how do these people get to be like this?

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Hirsute | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Unless this is rushed through by Friday, it won't be law.

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 4 weeks ago
10 likes

I took one for the team - DO NOT read the Telegraph's online article if you value your sanity.

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Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
13 likes

Someone did suggest a possible reaction to the laws

Refusal to use shared paths

Riders will always take primary to keep away from the kerb and peds

Ride in the main road to avoid floating bus stops.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
4 likes

Perhaps they can bring back the emergency legislation and special police from the Great Pokemon Go Menace era?  Oh... wait, where did those policemen go?  Seems they're not going to catch any of them.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Unfortunately they're classified as vulnerable due to being under the care of a government minister.  Remember the publicity about the hierarchy of vulnerability?  At the top (those who deserve the greatest protection) it's "P" - Parliamentarians.

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mattw replied to eburtthebike | 3 weeks ago
8 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

“it’s only right tiny minority who recklessly disregard others face full weight of the law”

Of course.  But not the reckless majority.

Except it's such a pathetic little law that it has almost no footprint to be applied. It's a classic narrow minded kneejerk by a sad politician wanting a tiny monument for the political grave he is about to be buried in.

If IDS had actually wanted to help victims rather than have a pointless go at cyclists, he would have used his imagination and done something like bring in presumed civil liability. That would help deliver compensation to almost all pedestrians hurt in such collisions from the Third Party Liability insurance carried by a vast majority of cyclists.

But that's not what he's trying to do, so he didn't do it.
 

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brooksby replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Well put - I agree with you wholeheartedly.

But it's okay because the likely next govt has rushed out to condemn this proposed amendment as the anti cycling bilge it is, and pointed out that it will do sod all for road safety.

Oh, waitaminute... 

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marmotte27 replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 4 weeks ago
1 like

Yeah, I only skimmed it, for that very reason.
There should be a label warning the public affixed to these NSOs (newspaper shaped objects).

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 4 weeks ago
5 likes

Don't forget to be scrupulous about stopping anytime you see someone who might want to cross the road also.  While in primary.  If it saves one life...

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 4 weeks ago
5 likes

I've just filled in a complaint via ipso.co.uk.

Nothing will happen but it's better to try and fail ....

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
8 likes

I probably nearly killed dozens of people while cycling this lunchtime...

(I mean - I cycled past them on shared paths.  Anything could have happened.  Though I have to say the simmering rage and terror between "cyclist" and "pedestrian" was subtly concealed).

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stonojnr replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

If I did that to my MP he'd probably believe me. He was instrumental in ripping out all of the soft segregated lanes installed during Covid in my town, because some drivers complained they didn't like them as it confused them.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

There are also the administrators and medics behind the bright idea to use those contaminated US blood products. While the motivation is understandable and the goals perhaps slightly more lofty than the Post Office this ended up not just "amounting" to "improper practice judged by today's standards". It seems to have involved actual, completely unethical human experimentation on *healthy* children without consent, apparently admitted by at least one doctor (in a BBC interview).

Anyways, that's a reminder that at public level *everything* is something to be balanced on the same scales - cost, reputation and public confidence, what the media says, private profit AND people's lives, health and livelihoods.

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Hirsute replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

This popped up on Twitter

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10404620

"I was dealing with a spider" - wasp/fly/bee in my helmet/glasses.

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stonojnr replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 4 weeks ago
2 likes

Absolutely, filled one in myself, it's like how you'd imagine a satirical comedy sketch to cover cycling & strava, "undercover athletes" is just one of their many sensationalistic memes they use, yet its in some supposedly level headed paper with professional journalists.

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

chrisonabike wrote:

I probably nearly killed dozens of people while cycling this lunchtime...

(I mean - I cycled past them on shared paths.  Anything could have happened.  Though I have to say the simmering rage and terror between "cyclist" and "pedestrian" was subtly concealed).

Nearly isn't good enough, I want to see some more commitment from you

//i.imgflip.com/53yza5.jpg)

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stonojnr replied to Hirsute | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

She took her eyes off the road for two seconds ? Didn't even know she'd hit anything till she looked in the rear mirror?

If only there were some kind of death by dangerous or careless driving laws to protect us from these deadly drivers

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ktache replied to stonojnr | 3 weeks ago
1 like

I'm sure training, licencing, registration, tax and insurance will help...

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NotNigel replied to stonojnr | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

There needs to be new legislation involving the banning of spiders and other critters in vehicles whilst being driven by morons.

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to stonojnr | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Does anybody else feel like crying sometimes indecision

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HLaB replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 4 weeks ago
3 likes

Thats one very big down hill and a strong, courageous cyclist.  I've never topped out at over 50mph myself.  I doubt there's many places in the UK where it could even be achieved  7

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eburtthebike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

Despite everyone complaining about this law - I think it'll make us cyclists think twice before we go out to murder people with our careless/dangerous cycling. We'd better get all the killing in now before this law hits the books.

I'm going out tonight to kill twenty, well at least double figures, while I still can.  No point in having a quota if you don't fulfill it.

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