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Do we need an offence of causing death or serious injury by dangerous or careless cycling?

My blunt answer to this (speaking as a cyclist and as a solicitor specialising in cycling accident claims) is, in isolation, no. The Department for Transport has launched a public consultation to consider this point and the consultation closes on 5 November 2018. Grace O’Driscoll from JMW has blogged about this here:

Don’t miss the opportunity to have your say.

However, this approach feels like a sledgehammer to crack a nut to me. There are some examples of poor cycling and of course those cases need to be dealt with but what we actually need is a wholesale review of road safety laws.

Department for Transport statistics for 2016 reveal 448 pedestrian road deaths and 3 involved cyclists. There are law breakers across all road user groups. There is no current consistency in the application of offences to motorists so why single out a minority group now for review?

The real threat on the road isn’t cyclists so my view would be to focus resources to save more lives. The congestion, health and fresh air benefits of more people cycling vastly outweigh problems on the roads caused by people on bikes so let’s not introduce anything targeted to isolate such a group. All road users need to be accountable for their actions. We are human and we make mistakes – all of us – not just those on bikes.

If anyone wants more congestion, poorer quality air and an increasing obesity situation then let’s focus resources on pursuing and prosecuting cyclists. Let’s force them to have registration requirements, to carry insurance, to wear helmets and high viz clothing etc etc The reality is that travel by bikes is one of a battery of physically active solutions that combats congestion, poor air quality and obesity. There are other benefits too; we’ve blogged on them before and we could do it again. 

It cannot be argued that every single death on the road is anything but a tragedy, but problematically there seems to me to be almost an acceptance that vehicle deaths will happen. That cannot be right.

Let’s tackle the driving. Let’s tackle the congestion. Where there is more space and less congestion fewer accidents happen. There is room to move. I welcome a wholesale review of our road safety laws. I don’t welcome the narrow pursuit of people who ride bikes.

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