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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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110 comments

Avatar
Mr Hoopdriver | 1 month ago
7 likes

 

Just when you  thought it was safe to vote Labour

I keep remembeing 'Tony Blair MP' is an anagram of "I'm Tory plan B".

It seems as if thing's haven't changed much in the Labour party.

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brooksby replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 1 month ago
5 likes

Mr Hoopdriver wrote:

Just when you  thought it was safe to vote Labour

Downside of a first past the post system.

If you want the Tories out, you basically have to vote Labour even if you don't want to, because otherwise you are just splitting up the "not Tory" vote and they'll get the seat with 15% or something…

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
7 likes

Stop bringing reality to the table - life is depressing enough as it is indecision

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bensynnock replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 1 month ago
5 likes

It wasn't true of Blair and it isn't true of Starmer. The idea that Labour are just red Tories feeds the far right narrative of Reform.

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dubwise replied to bensynnock | 1 month ago
2 likes

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to bensynnock | 1 month ago
1 like

bensynnock wrote:

It wasn't true of Blair and it isn't true of Starmer. The idea that Labour are just red Tories feeds the far right narrative of Reform.

The earliest reference (a quick web search comes up with is 1994).  This predates Brexit, Reform and UKIP being called UKIP so it's at best, a great stretch of the imagination to say that it's feeding their narrative.

There has been nothing of substance released by the labour party as to what they are planning to do if they form a government.  They have rowed back on a lot of things e.g. their green/climate  promises, that I personally think are more important than petty point scoring against the conservatives.  Currently, there's not a Rizzla paper between the two parties and neither one of them appeals to me and the more I see, the less likely I am to vote for either of them.

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john_smith replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 1 month ago
0 likes

"The earliest reference (a quick web search comes up with is 1994).  This predates Brexit, Reform and UKIP being called UKIP so it's at best, a great stretch of the imagination to say that it's feeding their narrative."

That's some pretty strange reasoning. What happened thirty years ago is beside the point. Look at what's happening now.

And to say there is virtually no difference between Labour and Tories is just weird.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

As others have said FPTP may have certain consequences.

Even discounting Keith's recent campaign of "hug my enemy closer" if you look across all the parties (from the Greens, via the measured approach of Count Binface to the George Galloway Party to Farage's "worried about Johnny Muslim?" group) then Labour and the Conservatives (and the Liberals AFAIK) definitely seem to be sitting at the same table.

A long-ish period of political stability in the UK has meant that it often seems to be a question of "degree" or "tone".  This "managerial" look to politics actually may be a win for most.  Bureacracy and stability have their uses and not many people are fans of anarchy (the condition or the doctrine).

Anyway, it's all fine; so the UK has ended up with a two-party system* - but that's probably almost twice as good as a one-party system!  Or something.

* Which seems to be a main party (blue), with a backup for the times when the main one has been hanging about too long and looks tired.

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Bungle_52 replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

The problem is we have ended up with a party system but with an electoral system based on individual independent mps representing their area.

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

john_smith wrote:

And to say there is virtually no difference between Labour and Tories is just weird.

There have recently been a few defections from blue to red so at least some of the insiders seem to think there isn't a big difference.

The red team have kicked out their former leader and are kicking Diane Abbot about something rotten, the blue team are quite happy for this as it takes away focus from their own leadership problems.

The red team will continue with the Cumbrian coal mine.

The red team will continue with the North Sea Oil licences.

Both teams have come up with uncosted soundbite policies.

And finally, the red team have just said they'll implement this dangerous cycling law.

The devil is probably in the detail that we haven't seen yet from either party (another similarity - neither have produced a manifesto) but looking at what we already know and see, weird is not being able to see the striking similarities.

 

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john_smith replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 1 month ago
1 like

350 million a week for "our NHS"

Brexit

Lockdown parties

Let the bodies pile high

Unelected spad being given use of the No 10 rose garden to make excuses for crimes unrelated to work

"F*** business", unless it's owned by someone you're having an affair with.

VIP fast lane

Test 'n' trace

Eat out to help out

Gold wallpaper

Truss.

Etc., etc.

No, Labour are not the same as the Tories.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
1 like

But but PFI, spin, dodgy dossier, gulf war 2, war on terror, light-touch banking regulation and bailing out banks "too big to fail".

Not defending this current lot, and there may be system biases favoring more outrageous behaviour from the party of the priveledged and sharper-elbowed. But all the "flexible attitude to the facts", graft, favoring your pals, lying about sex and drugs shenanigans - seems that applies across party lines. And perhaps there is indeed a corrupting effect of being the party in power and the money that comes with it.

Possibly if you took a random sample of that number of people in the UK you'd find similar? It's maybe just writ larger in the elites and commands more attention (we love stories with powerful beings, heroes and villains).

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mark1a replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
3 likes

john_smith wrote:

No, Labour are not the same as the Tories.

Oh, I don't know. Back in the late 90s, a party donation of £1m was enough to secure the newly elected prime minister's personal intervention in exempting Formula 1 from a ban on tobacco sponsorship. Probably a coincidence. 

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wycombewheeler replied to Mr Hoopdriver | 1 month ago
2 likes

Mr Hoopdriver wrote:

Currently, there's not a Rizzla paper between the two parties and neither one of them appeals to me and the more I see, the less likely I am to vote for either of them.

There might not be much between Kier Starmer and John Major, but if you think this current group of xenophobe disaster capitalists steering the conservative party off to the far right in pursuit of UKIP voters is in the same space as the labour party you are not watching them.

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espressodan | 1 month ago
9 likes

"However, with the increase in people cycling, there is a concomitant increase in risk'...... No there isn't, there isn't, there isn't, there isn't.

An increase in cycling brings a concomitant decrease in risk to all pedestrians and other cyclists.

I'm fed up of this fatuous bullshit. Even as they pretend to support cycling they fall for the worst type of anti-cyclist bias.

Increase in risk due to increase in cycling, my arse. This is just more of the new phenomenon of using the promise of laws to win votes, and that practice always supports culture wars and the worst kind of societal schadenfreude.

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LondonCalling replied to espressodan | 1 month ago
5 likes

Agree. That Briggs bloke is on a revenge path. And the bloke who caused his wife's death dod actually go to prison. Imagine if he hadn't!!

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Rendel Harris replied to LondonCalling | 1 month ago
14 likes

LondonCalling wrote:

Agree. That Briggs bloke is on a revenge path. And the bloke who caused his wife's death dod actually go to prison. Imagine if he hadn't!!

Quite, he says the law doesn't work as it stands yet Alliston served a far more severe sentence, effectively on a technicality, than some drivers who have killed people whilst driving drunk.

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Velo-drone replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
0 likes

What technicality is that?

I am sure you're aware that "Wanton and furious driving" offence of which he was convicted is assessed by the manner of driving, and has nothing to do with the point about brakes that was fussed over incessantly in the press

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Rendel Harris replied to Velo-drone | 1 month ago
12 likes

Velo-drone wrote:

What technicality is that? I am sure you're aware that "Wanton and furious driving" offence of which he was convicted is assessed by the manner of driving, and has nothing to do with the point about brakes that was fussed over incessantly in the press

That is not the case, Alliston was charged under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, the offence being causing death by “wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect”. The "wilful neglect" aspect was heavily stressed by the prosecution and in the judge's sentencing remarks and referred to the fact that he did not have a roadworthy machine under the law due to having no front brake. If he had a front brake it's unlikely he would ever have seen the inside of a courtroom, as he was cycling below the speed limit through a green light when a pedestrian stepped in front of him, no "wanton or furious driving" was involved. "Wanton and furious" was stressed in the press as it sounds more fearsome, but it was the "wilful neglect" aspect that did for him.

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yupiteru | 1 month ago
2 likes

Looking at the article in the Telegraph it looks like yet another made up story to me, that they have written to keep the anti cycling rhetoric going.

The Telegraph have a habit of doing this lately

The article doesn't tell you anything new and is very much built on assumptions with no detail at all.

The carbrains were well pissed off when the election meant the pointless anti cycling legislation was cancelled and this is just another opportunity to stick the knife in again.

We should be used to all this crap by now, don’t let it trigger you.

 

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LondonCalling replied to yupiteru | 1 month ago
6 likes

It would be good to know the name of this "spokesperson" from the Labour camp. Probably doesn't exist, though.

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Velo-drone replied to LondonCalling | 1 month ago
0 likes

Of course they exist, they will be someone in the press team or a campaign adviser.

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lesterama | 1 month ago
7 likes

As a polling expert said to the Guardian: "There’s three times more people who voted Conservative and are undecided than voted Labour and are undecided, and where these voters end up going will make a big difference". Labour need those undecideds, and are sounding like Tory-lite to get them.

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OnYerBike | 1 month ago
11 likes

Disappointed (but not surprised) by Labour's comments. 

In particular, I would disagree with the suggestion that the current state of the law represents a legal "loophole" for cyclists. Rather, I would suggest that motor vehicles and the "death by careless/dangerous driving" offences are the exception. The offence of death by dangerous driving was created because car drivers were killing people regularly and juries were reluctant to convict those drivers of manslaughter (this Hansard archive is quite interesting - some shocking comments in there but also the statistic that in 1953, 62 people were charged with manslaughter after killing someone with a motor vehicle; of those 12 were convicted of manslaughter and 29 had their charge reduced to dangerous driving). 

In all other areas of life, manslaughter remains the appropriate charge when someone kills someone else through gross negligence or unlawful acts.

So the fact that no "death dangerous cycling" offence currently exists is not a loophole; it's the default state of the law. The need for a separate "death by dangerous driving" law was demonstrated by the number of dangerous drivers killing people and getting away with a slap on the wrist. No-one has provided a convincing argument why cycling needs its own comparable specific offence, given the numbers are approximately zero (~2 or 3 pedestrian fatalities per year involving cyclists, of which some the cyclist will be entirely blameless; others the cyclist will be at fault but below the "dangerous" threshold).

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lonpfrb replied to OnYerBike | 1 month ago
1 like

It's dog whistle politics of no merit based on the facts.

Cycling should be made a Protected Characteristic to counter such bias.

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morgoth985 replied to OnYerBike | 1 month ago
1 like

Interesting Hansard extract- even back then there were some ridiculous pro-car opinions. Overall I think you are right.  Really it is motorists who have the benefit of the loophole.  When I studied law (which admittedly was (a) a long time ago and (b) not in the UK) manslaughter was "an unlawful and dangerous act causing death" and it was pointed out to us that there was no requirement that the act be somehow "very" unlawful and/or "very" dangerous.  But clearly juries have pretty much always seen unlawful and dangerous driving as somehow falling short of some non-existent threshold, unless the act was particularly egregious, so they have created a de facto threshold that was never meant to exist.

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lonpfrb replied to morgoth985 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Every Dangerous Driving case requires a driving examiner as expert witness to the DVSA standard of competence expected to pass the test.
The CPS are negligent in prosecution without the proper expert witnesses.

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Stephankernow | 1 month ago
1 like

No good cyclists should have a thing to be worried about!
I certainly haven't.

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The_Ewan replied to Stephankernow | 1 month ago
14 likes

Stephankernow wrote:

No good cyclists should have a thing to be worried about!

The two things you should be worried about are what the law will actually say, and about accidents caused by other road users.

It's not hard to imagine a definition of 'safe' cycling that amounts to being able to save idiot pedestrians from themselves, and if one steps out a couple of metres in front of you then you could find youself on the hook for being 'unsafe' no matter how good you think you are.

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brooksby replied to Stephankernow | 1 month ago
2 likes

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