New 'death by dangerous cycling' offence after MPs back law change

15 May 2024, 21:00 | Updated: 15 May 2024, 23:40

Dangerous cycling that causes death could land people up to 14 years in prison after the House of Commons backed a proposed change to the law.

On Wednesday night, MPs voted in favour of an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that would create three new offences: causing death by dangerous cycling; causing serious injury by dangerous cycling and causing death by careless or inconsiderate cycling.

The amendment, put forward by former minister and Tory party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, was supported by the government and will now form part of the bill.

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Ian described the new law as "urgent" and added: "This is not, as is often accused by people who say anything about it, anti-cycling.

"Quite the opposite, it's about making sure this takes place in a safe and reasonable manner."

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During his speech, Sir Ian made reference to Matthew Briggs, whose wife Kim died aged 44 after a cyclist collided with her in Old Street, east London.

The bicycle did not have a front brake and the 44-year-old suffered "catastrophic" head injuries - dying in hospital a week after the crash in February 2016.

The cyclist, Charlie Alliston, was jailed for 18 months after he was found guilty at the Old Bailey of "wanton or furious driving", but was cleared of manslaughter.

Sir Iain said: "(Mr Briggs') attempt to get a cyclist prosecuted after his wife was killed in central London in 2016 involved a legal process that was so convoluted and difficult even the presiding judge has said afterwards, since she's retired, that this made a mockery and therefore it needed to be addressed - that the laws do not cover what happened to his wife and is happening to lots of other people."

He added: "The amendment, I believe, will achieve equal accountability, just as drivers are held accountable for dangerous driving that results in death, cyclists I think should face similar consequences for reckless behaviour that leads to fatalities."

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, responding to the approval of the amendment, said in a statement: "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."

Dangerous cycling is already laid out in the Road Traffic Act, which includes riding in a way which "falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist" and which "would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist that riding in that way would be dangerous".

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The proposed law would require cyclists to make sure their vehicle "is equipped and maintained" in a legal way, including by keeping brakes in working order.

It would apply to incidents involving pedal cycles, e-bikes, e-scooters and e-unicycles.

Current laws state that causing death or serious injury by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate driving are already offences, but the vehicle involved must be "mechanically propelled".