Cyclists who kill pedestrians could face tougher sentences

By Emily McGarvey & Jasmine Andersson
BBC News

  • Published
Image source, Getty Images

Cyclists who kill pedestrians could face tougher sentences under a planned new law for England.

The move proposed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps would close a loophole which means they can only currently be jailed for two years.

He said it would "impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care".

A man whose wife was killed by a cyclist said a new law could "bring a degree of comfort to relatives".

Both causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving carry a maximum sentence of life when under the influence of drink or drugs since the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act was introduced earlier this year.

The government launched a review into whether an equivalent offence to causing death by dangerous driving was needed for cyclists in 2017. It followed a case where a cyclist was convicted of the 19th Century offence of "wanton or furious driving".

Mr Shapps will also push for the law to be introduced in Scotland and Wales, but transport legislation is a devolved matter.

'Degree of comfort'

Matthew Briggs has been campaigning for a law recognising death and serious injury cycling offences since his wife Kim was killed by a cyclist in central London in 2016.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "It would greatly simplify the legal system... and would bring a degree of comfort to relatives who are grieving and also to victims who are seriously injured, because the law does not apply to those people either."

He hopes Mr Shapps - if he stays in post under a new prime minister, or his successor - "will be true to their word".

Mr Briggs added: "It is rare but it keeps happening, and it needs to be sorted."

Last month a cyclist was jailed for 12 months after causing the death of 79-year-old pedestrian Elizabeth Stone by hitting her as she walked on a pavement.

Image source, Met Police
Image caption,
Kim Briggs died after being injured while crossing Old Street in Shoreditch in 2016

Mr Shapps said a "selfish minority" of cyclists believe they are "immune" to red lights.

"We need to crack down on this disregard for road safety," he wrote in the Daily Mail. "Relatives of victims have waited too long for this straightforward measure."

Ministers are said to be seeking a "balance" to "encourage cycling... but at the same time ensure that pedestrians are protected from irresponsible cycling behaviour".

Under the proposal, a new law of causing death by dangerous cycling would be added to the Transport Bill due before Parliament in the autumn.

The Department for Transport said it was "exploring changes to allow dangerous cyclists to be prosecuted more easily and delivering more continuous and direct cycling routes in towns and cities which are physically separated from pedestrians and motor traffic".

A spokesperson added: "Any death on our roads is a tragedy."

Correction 9 August 2022: An earlier version of this story stated that causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, while there is a maximum sentence of five years for death by careless driving. This was changed in light of information from the Ministry of Justice.