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Time to call for a death by dangerous cycling offence?

Amid calls by campaigners for a change in the law, the Department of Transport has launched a public consultation to look at whether a new offence covering dangerous cycling should be brought in.

The move comes after the number of pedestrians killed or maimed by a cyclist doubled in a decade from 50 in 2006 to 111 in 2016, including the death of Mrs Kim Briggs who died from head injuries after being hit by cyclist Charlie Alliston as she crossed a road in East London.

Alliston, who was riding a fixed gear bike with no front brakes and travelling at 18mph, was jailed for 18 months after the prosecution was forced to use a law dating back to 1861 and intended for drivers of horse drawn carriages of causing bodily harm by "wanton or furious driving" carrying a maximum sentence of two years.

Although charges for careless and dangerous cycling do currently exist, they don't specifically include bodily injury and carry a maximum penalty of between £1,000 and £2,500.

There is currently nothing in relation to cycling that equates to causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, or careless driving, with a maximum sentence of five years.

"Huge gap in UK law"

Kim Briggs' husband, Matt, welcomed the Department of Transport's move. "This public consultation is an important step towards updating the arcane laws that are currently being used to prosecute cycling offences," he said.

"I would urge people to contribute to the consultation and of course to support the proposed changes to the law."

He also commented: "At the moment, there is simply no effective, relevant legal remedy for anyone killed or seriously injured as a result of criminal wrongdoing by a cyclist. This represents a huge gap in UK law."

Looking ahead

The Department of Transport is looking at a range of ways to improve road safety as part of its Cycling and Walking Safety Review including a series of consultations.

A Government spokesperson said: "We already have strict laws that ensure that drivers who put people's lives at risk are punished.

"Given recent cases, it is only right for us to look at whether dangerous cyclists should face the same consequences and that is why we are carrying out a review to improve all elements of cycle safety, including looking at the case for a new offence, equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving."

The public consultation New cycling offences: Causing death or serious injury when cycling closes on 5 November 2018. To find out more and submit your views click here.

Shocking statistics

Although the increase in the number of pedestrians killed and injured after being hit by a bicycle is alarming, it remains the case that every year more than 100 cyclists are killed and more than 18,000 injured including 3,000 seriously on British roads, the majority by motorists - shocking statistics in themselves.

To read about what to do if you have an accident whilst cycling, see our previous article Cycling - accidents on the rise.

If you need help or advice about this area of the law, contact Wards Solicitors' Accident and Injury team.

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