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31/01/2012 // INFO Leave a comment

Proposed “death by dangerous cycling” law runs out of time

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An update on a blog that we ran last year in relation to a private members bill in Parliament that sought to introduce a specific offence for causing death by dangerous cycling. It appears that the bill is doomed to failure after it failed to get a second reading in parliament.

Ms Leadsom’s bill was due to be given its second reading in the House of Commons this past Friday (Jan 27) but there wasn’t enough time to do this as a Common’s debate on another issue overran and so the bill missed its allotted spot.

In April, last year Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom introduced her private members bill to try and get stricter penalties in place for dangerous cycling enacted on the statute book.

The current offence of dangerous cycling only carries a penalty of £2,500 whether or not a death has been caused. More serious offences (that require a custodial sentence) can be dealt by the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which carries a section on “drivers of carriages injuring persons by furious driving”.  A cyclist has been prosecuted under this Act before.

Government backing

At the time of the introduction of the bill in April last year, Ms Leadsom got some backing on the issue from Mike Penning, a government transport minister, who has road safety matters under his ministerial brief. He privately expressed support for the aims of Ms Leadsom’s legislation and said the Department of Transport would examine whether a death by dangerous cycling offence or something similar could be put into upcoming traffic legislation.

There would, however, have to be some cross consultation with the Ministry of Justice on the matter. In 2005, the Ministry of Justice decided that a death by dangerous cycling offence under current road traffic laws was not needed.

Fight goes on

Despite the failure of her private members bill, Ms Leadsom said she would be writing to the Department for Transport to ask the Minister’s opinion of her death by dangerous cycling bill and to encourage him to use it as a template for future road safety legislation.

The Department of Transport, in a statement to The Guardian’s Peter Walker, said that it was still looking at the specific issue of a custodial sentence for death by dangerous cycling. Their preferred option would be to address the issue without the need for new primary legislation.


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