Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

"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.

Add new comment

110 comments

Avatar
Beachboy replied to Velo-drone | 1 week ago
0 likes

If I remember rightly, his shouting made her look up and notice the traffic approaching in the next lanes, so she stepped or jumped back. If he had not shouted, he would have missed her, and she may have been killed by a lorry from the other direction.

Avatar
Zjtm231 replied to Velo-drone | 1 month 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)
 

Avatar
john_smith replied to Velo-drone | 1 month 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.

 

 

Avatar
anotherflat replied to Velo-drone | 1 month 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

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to anotherflat | 1 month ago
1 like

anotherflat wrote:

Was he sentenced more harshly than an equivalently negligent driver? Undoubtedly

Well if you can find a case of a driver using a vehicle with only a handbrake and no working footbrake who then killed someone and got a lesser sentance, feel free to share.

Alliston chose to use a bike on the road without the legally required brakes. By his own words on social media prior to the incident he did this for the thrill. IMO the absence of a brake was not critical in the outcome of this incident, there was little time to react, and his first response to slow and pass behind was the natural one any cyclist would make.

The police evidence that he could have stopped was a stitch up taking no account of reaction time as they were rolling along with their hands on the brakes expecting a call to stop. While alliston would not have had his fingers on the levers, did not expect Briggs to step into his path and then had to decide whether action was neccessary and whether to emergency stop or go around. However by chosing to go out on the road without a safe bike he opened himself up to prosecution.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
2 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

anotherflat wrote:

Was he sentenced more harshly than an equivalently negligent driver? Undoubtedly

Well if you can find a case of a driver using a vehicle with only a handbrake and no working footbrake who then killed someone and got a lesser sentance, feel free to share.

Alliston chose to use a bike on the road without the legally required brakes. By his own words on social media prior to the incident he did this for the thrill. IMO the absence of a brake was not critical in the outcome of this incident, there was little time to react, and his first response to slow and pass behind was the natural one any cyclist would make.

The police evidence that he could have stopped was a stitch up taking no account of reaction time as they were rolling along with their hands on the brakes expecting a call to stop. While alliston would not have had his fingers on the levers, did not expect Briggs to step into his path and then had to decide whether action was neccessary and whether to emergency stop or go around. However by chosing to go out on the road without a safe bike he opened himself up to prosecution.

He had time to react, but possibly not come to a stop in time. His real problem was that although he initially started braking/slowing (and shouting IIRC), he then changed his mind and went for the gap. Mrs Briggs then stepped into his path and hit her head (pedestrian helmets FTW).

I expect Alliston would have had a different court result if he'd continued trying to stop. It's an important part of the Highway Code that people should do all they can to avoid a collision, despite having priority.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
1 like

hawkinspeter wrote:

His real problem was that although he initially started braking/slowing (and shouting IIRC), he then changed his mind and went for the gap. Mrs Briggs then stepped into his path and hit her head (pedestrian helmets FTW).

His real problem was the shouting, I have easily avoided many pedestrians crossing, but when they see you at the last minute they do something unpredictable. Although I guess it should now be completely predictable, but only based on experience of paniced pedestrians, not logic.

I had a collision with a pedestrian a few years ago, I was riding around a bend when I encoutered a pedestrian crossing the road without looking, I adjusted line to pass behind her, but her family who had already crossed called out to warn her, at which point she jumped back into my new path. Slammed on the brakes, rear wheel off the floor our heads touched ever so slightly (she didn't even stumble due to the impact, never mind fall) and my bike ended in a heap on the floor. Apologised, Checked she was OK, suggested in future not changing course to avoid a cyclist, we will avoid pedestrians as there is lots of space. Everyone went about their day, but it could easily have been much worse.

Avatar
brooksby replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
1 like

wycombewheeler wrote:

His real problem was the shouting, I have easily avoided many pedestrians crossing, but when they see you at the last minute they do something unpredictable. Although I guess it should now be completely predictable, but only based on experience of paniced pedestrians, not logic.

His real real problem was arguably going onto his socials afterwards and ranting about it - his apparent insensitivity to the whole incident didn't help him at all once he was facing a jury.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
1 like

brooksby wrote:

His real real problem was arguably going onto his socials afterwards and ranting about it - his apparent insensitivity to the whole incident didn't help him at all once he was facing a jury.

That certainly didn't help.

Here's the judge's sentencing remarks: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/sentencing-remarks-hhj-wendy-joseph-qc-r-v-alliston.pdf

Avatar
Hirsute replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
1 like

My closest shave was a two lane one way. Ped crosses about 2/3 of the way and then did a 180 as I passed on the left - just missed him. And it was raining !

Avatar
Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
0 likes

I thought it was his social media comments that were the main reason for the outcome.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Hirsute | 1 month ago
0 likes

Hirsute wrote:

I thought it was his social media comments that were the main reason for the outcome.

The judge states that it was the manner of Alliston's riding more than anything

Avatar
Hirsute replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
0 likes

I was thinking more about the jury.

Avatar
BalladOfStruth replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
5 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

Well if you can find a case of a driver using a vehicle with only a handbrake and no working footbrake who then killed someone and got a lesser sentance, feel free to share.

You'll struggle to find like-for-like (I'm sure it's happened - multiple times - but you're relying on news coverage), however choosing to ride the bike in that manner was a consious choice, similar to (IMO) choosing to drive too fast for the conditions or choosing to drive when your eyesight isn't up to it, or choosing to use a mobile phone:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit E

All suspended sentences, as you can see. I was looking for a specific one from about a year ago that would have been a little more like-for-like because it involved an unlicenced (I think he was actually banned), uninsured, driver hitting and killing teenaged cyclist with a pickup (that, if I recall correctly, wasn't MOT'd - therefore not roadworthy and comparable to Alliston) before fleeing the scene. He also got a suspended sentence, for being an "upstanding member of the community" or some bollocks.

Like I said in my forum comment, you'll struggle to get like-for-like cases due to how rare cyclists killing people is - Alliston being the last high-profile case. However, you don't have to look far to see pretty extreme cases of driver negligence being excused by the courts. I maintain that if Alliston had been driving a Ford Focus at 2/3 of the speed limit when Briggs stepped out in front of him, he wouldn't have served a day in prison - faulty brakes or no.

Avatar
Hirsute replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
0 likes

And he had used his bike before on the roads, so knew what the limitations were.

Avatar
Beachboy replied to anotherflat | 1 week ago
0 likes

He would not show any remorse. I still accept his innocence, and think it was a kangaroo court. But he didn't help himself, and can only assume that he has some kind of autism. The anti cycling lobby were rubbing their hands with glee when they got him into court.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Beachboy | 1 week ago
1 like

Beachboy wrote:

He would not show any remorse. I still accept his innocence, and think it was a kangaroo court. But he didn't help himself, and can only assume that he has some kind of autism. The anti cycling lobby were rubbing their hands with glee when they got him into court.

Whilst I'd agree that he received an unreasonably severe sentence, I don't think he was innocent of furious cycling as he didn't take the necessary precautions to not hit her at speed. If he'd continued braking as he had started to do, then I think he would have got off completely - as it was, the jury found him innocent of manslaughter, so the court wasn't entirely rigged against him.

Whether or not he's autistic should have no influence on the case as people have to be held responsible for their actions on the public roads. I also think that judges shouldn't excuse dangerous driving by classing it as a moment of anger or the other excuses that they love making for drivers.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Beachboy | 1 week ago
0 likes

Beachboy wrote:

He would not show any remorse. I still accept his innocence, and think it was a kangaroo court. But he didn't help himself, and can only assume that he has some kind of autism. The anti cycling lobby were rubbing their hands with glee when they got him into court.

There were some concerns raised about the evidence and how it was presented - and indeed the bigger picture of who we choose to prosecute.  And as often the case in incidents more than one thing went wrong (eg. had Mrs. Briggs' movements been different ...)

However it seems there was ample evidence that Mr. Alliston was an "accident waiting to happen" through his choices (over time) and disregard of consequences.  He hadn't apparently changed much even by the time of the trial (see the judge's remarks in full).

Was he as potentially dangerous as a "boy racer" with a motor vehicle?  No, because of the force-magnifying effect of those.  Similar attitude of "I'm skilled, I can deal with situations with more risk and I'll seek those out and set my own rules", leading to disregard of the law?  I think so.

Also - that case really doesn't have much that connects it to the Auriol Grey case.

Ultimately I'd like us to be setting conditions to avoid setting up "conflict" between those cycling and walking, and better manage it where interactions will occur.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Velo-drone | 1 month ago
1 like

Velo-drone wrote:

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.

I think it's the case that having two working brakes is required for using a bike on the road, not just for selling a bike to be used on the road. So Yes, the bike was missing a legally required second brake.

https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/whats-legal-and-whats-not-your-bike#:~...'s%20an%20offence%20to,the%20front%20and%20rear%20wheel.

It is an offence to ride a bike on a public road with two efficient braking systems.

Whether a fixed rear wheel is an efficient braking system is another question. I am not entirely convinced it is having ridden a track bike on the track

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
2 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

I think it's the case that having two working brakes is required for using a bike on the road, not just for selling a bike to be used on the road. So Yes, the bike was missing a legally required second brake.

https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/whats-legal-and-whats-not-your-bike#:~...'s%20an%20offence%20to,the%20front%20and%20rear%20wheel.

It is an offence to ride a bike on a public road with two efficient braking systems.

Whether a fixed rear wheel is an efficient braking system is another question. I am not entirely convinced it is having ridden a track bike on the track

You probably meant "without two efficient braking systems".

A fixed rear wheel does generally count as a rear braking system and is arguably more effective than those crappy reverse-pedal brakes you get on European commuter bikes. I guess it takes some skill/practice to get good at though, but you're more likely to get a cool skid/slide out of one.

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
0 likes

My reading of the Cycling UK article and linked Regulations is that a fixed rear wheel is explicitly counted as a braking system (or, pedantically, if one of the wheels cannot rotate independently of the pedals, only one braking system is required. Not strictly the same meaning, but close enough).

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
3 likes

I believe the issue was that he didn't have a front brake [1] plus he didn't take any effort to even look like a careful rider.  I think a fixed rear does count as a braking system, but probably doesn't "look good" to the less informed.  Plus it requires more skill to use effectively, and rear braking is definitely not as effective as front braking on a bike.

I think he compounded this with his comments.  Some of those were approving of a culture of not having any brakes other than using the fixed wheel (also IIRC there was talk of even removing brakes from bikes which had them?)

If so that might have spoken to the "deliberately chose to be dangerous" and the judge made reference to this (eg. even if he didn't know the law he understood - and sought - the more "dangerous" bike design).

Judge Wendy Jospeh wrote:

 I am satisfied that in some part it was this so-called thrill that motivated you to ride without a front brake, shouting and swearing at pedestrians to get out of your way. [...] Having heard your evidence, I have no doubt that, even now, after all that has happened, you remain obstinately sure of yourself and your own abilities. I have no doubt you are wrong in this assessment. You were an accident waiting to happen. The victim could have been any pedestrian. [...] On your own evidence by this stage you weren’t even trying to slow or stop. You expected her to get out of your way. Thus I make it clear that it was not merely the absence of a front brake but your whole manner of riding that caused this accident.

The police may have muddied the waters with their "tests".  It does seem possible that a driver with an illegal machine who was nevertheless driving within the speed limit might not have been so convicted or even appeared in court.

As others have said "apples and oranges" - though the chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum suggested a few in an article after the case (the comments there have a lot of people who weren't with him, at all...).  The one I recall offhand was the driver who lost control of his car on black ice and collided with a group of cyclists, killing four.  It was later found his tyres were illegally worn, but because it was determined that this didn't make any difference because the purpose of the tyre pattern is to displace water and that wouldn't have helped.  On the other hand he'd not maintained his car and chose to drive in potentially dangerous conditions.

[1] is possibly worth quoting almost in full:

Martin Porter wrote:

The requirement for a front brake is set out in The Pedal Cycle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983. Regulation 7(1) provides that every bicycle must be equipped with at least one braking system. Alliston’s bicycle satisfied this test. However because his saddle was more than 635mm from the ground, Alliston was also required by Regulation 7(b) to have "a braking system operating on the front wheel". He had no such front wheel brake and could have been prosecuted for a breach of this regulation, a summary offence resulting in a fine.

Front brakes are important on bicycles. [...]

Studies in David Wilson’s seminal work Bicycling Science demonstrate that a deceleration of 0.5g is the maximum that a seated rider can risk before he goes over the handlebars. Unlike a car driver, a cyclist cannot safely achieve the limit of adhesion of the tyre to the road, which in the dry is typically about 0.8g. Braking with the rear wheel alone can achieve only 0.256g before the rear wheel locks up and skids. [...]

Expert evidence from the police for the prosecution was that Alliston had been going at 18mph (8 m/s) and that his braking distance was 12 metres. From experiments on other bicycles, including a police mountain bike, it was alleged that with a front brake he would have been able to stop in 3 metres. In cross-examination, it was suggested to him that with a "butcher's bike" with good brakes, he could have avoided the collision.

[...] The 3 metre braking distance is frankly absurd. Newtonian physics using Wilson’s calculated 0.5g yields 6.5 metres with the front brake and 13 metres without it. The difference is a factor or two, not four.

Given that the prosecution case was that Alliston was 6.53 metres away when Briggs stepped out, this difference is crucial. The Highway Code gives a typical stopping distance of 12 metres for a car driving at 20mph, suggesting that if Briggs had stepped into the path of a "slow" moving car, the driver would not have been able to avoid her.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
3 likes

This is what Pirelli say about tread patterns and ice.

"The deeper the tread depth on your tyres, the better the performance on ice compared to a more worn tyres, especially if its compound and tread pattern are optimised for winter driving."

and by performance, they mean performance of the tyre, ie its grip in those conditions, but I guess no one bothered to ask them.

Avatar
Backladder replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
1 like

wycombewheeler wrote:

Whether a fixed rear wheel is an efficient braking system is another question. I am not entirely convinced it is having ridden a track bike on the track

A fixed wheel counts as an efficient brake in law and may be more effective than a rim or disk brake as a skilled rider can control the braking force to avoid locking the wheel (almost like anti-lock brakes) in adverse conditions. Track bikes used on an actual velodrome generally come with higher gearing than fixies used on the road which makes the braking less powerful.

Avatar
levestane replied to lonpfrb | 1 month ago
4 likes

lonpfrb wrote:

... proportion to the risk or danger, rather serving dog whistle politics...

If humans were rational (quantitative) there are lots of problems we would have avoided!

Avatar
Mad Franky | 1 month ago
5 likes

Husband of darwin award winner gets to make legislation in vain attempt to keep right-wing nutjob press onside.

What a time to be alive.

 

Avatar
Velo-drone replied to Mad Franky | 1 month ago
3 likes

What a disgusting take on a tragic situation

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Mad Franky | 1 month ago
15 likes

Mad Franky wrote:

Husband of darwin award winner gets to make legislation in vain attempt to keep right-wing nutjob press onside.

The poor woman died. No, I don't necessarily agree with the conviction and I 100% don't agree with her widower's obsessive campaign (though there but for mercy, I can't guarantee if my wife was killed I'd remain totally rational and non-vengeful), but at worst she went to cross the road without looking properly, something I'm sure we've all done occasionally, and made a panicked decision to jump back when a cyclist shouted at her. Calling her "a Darwin Award winner" - meaning someone who, to use the Wikipedia definition, has "supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool by dying or becoming sterilized by their own actions" - for that is disrespectful and indeed disgraceful. For shame.

Avatar
john_smith replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
2 likes

I don't think calling someone a "Darwin Award winner" is ever not disrespectful or disgraceful.

Avatar
LeadenSkies replied to Mad Franky | 1 month ago
3 likes

That's an absolutely disgusting take on what, however you look at it, was a tragedy for all involved. Show a little human compassion instead of being some big keyboard warrior.

Pages

Latest Comments