Tougher jail sentences for reckless cyclists have moved closer after a report concluded existing laws are far too lenient.
There is a ‘persuasive case’ for a dangerous cycling law to bring cycling in line with driving offences, according to an independent review published by the Department for Transport today.
The offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum jail sentence of 14 years, and the Government wants to increase this to life. Currently, however, the offence applies only to ‘mechanically propelled’ vehicles, so does not include bicycles.
Instead, cyclists are covered by an outdated law introduced in 1861 to prosecute horse-drawn carriage drivers who cause bodily harm by ‘wanton or furious driving’. This carries a maximum jail sentence of just two years and had not been used against a cyclist until last year.
Tougher jail sentences for reckless cyclists have moved closer after a report concluded existing laws are far too lenient (stock image)
Like motorists, cyclists can theoretically be prosecuted for manslaughter. But the review, by transport law expert Laura Thomas from Birketts Solicitors, concluded juries were ‘slow to convict in “motor manslaughter” cases, let alone cases involving cyclists’.
She said the ‘use of a historic offence aimed at carriage driving does not fit with the modern approach to road safety’. And she added that the maximum jail sentence of two years was too lenient.
The review of the law came after the case of 20-year-old cyclist Charlie Alliston.
He was jailed for 18 months last September for knocking over and killing 44-year-old Kim Briggs as he sped through east London on a bike with no front brakes.
Alliston was found guilty of causing bodily harm by ‘wanton and furious driving’. Last night Matt Briggs – the widower of Mrs Briggs – urged ministers to follow the advice of the independent report.
The father of two from Lewisham, south-east London, told the Daily Mail: ‘I do not want another family to suffer the consequences of hopelessly inadequate and outdated legislation with the delays and confusion that compounded our grief after the tragedy of losing Kim.’
But campaign group Cycling UK rejected calls to target reckless cyclists, arguing the number of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians remained very low compared to collisions involving cars.
The offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum jail sentence of 14 years, and the Government wants to increase this to life (stock image)