BLOG rss
24/03/2011 // INFO 5 Comments

Should there be harsher penalties for dangerous cycling



Should there be a minimum custodial sentence for those convicted of causing death or serious injury through dangerous or reckless cycling? I think any likeminded person who cycles would agree that a cyclist should be punished for such offences, but is there any need for a specific offence relating to cycling?

While unlikely to become law, this week (Tuesday) saw the introduction of a parliamentary bill in the House of Commons that proposes a new criminal offence be created for dangerous cycling with distinct penalties for the offence.

The proposed bill, from Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, was made via a parliamentary ten-minute rule motion.


Ms Leadsom’s motives for the bill come from a case involving one of her own constituents. Rhiannon Bennett, a 17-year-old girl, was knocked down by John Howard after he mounted a pavement at speed and ploughed into her and her group of friends in Buckingham. Ms Bennett died from injuries relating to her head hitting a pavement kerb.

Mr Howard was convicted of dangerous cycling under present road traffic laws but was only fined £2,200 for the crime and given no prison sentence. The conviction under this charge carries a maximum penalty of £2,500 but no prison sentence.

Inappropriate punishment

Ms Leadsom said this was inappropriate compared with the maximum 14-year jail term to which a judge could sentence a motorist convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

Her argument is that the punishment falls short of the crime and the law needed to be updated. She wants a specific charge for death by dangerous cycling to be put on the statute book with a custodial sentence arising from a conviction.

Ms Leadsom states: “I think we should give justice to the small number of pedestrians killed each year by dangerous cycling by applying the same or similar penalties to that of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving.”

The case against

Understandably tragic as Ms Bennett’s case is, the simple fact is that there is no great incidence of pedestrians being killed by cyclists. Only three cases have been officially been recorded by the Department of Transport between 1999 and 2009. Figures from Road Casualties between 2005-2009 show that only two out of 70 road casualties involving pedestrians on footways also involved a cyclist during that period. The remaining 68 involved a motor vehicle.

The issue of creating a new law for dangerous cycling has already been considered before, in 2005, by the Ministry of Justice. They decided that no such law was required at that time.

Our view

It is our view that current legislation is sufficient enough to cover dangerous cycling offences. A custodial sentence is available under the The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 , which carries a section on “drivers of carriages injuring persons by furious driving”. A cyclist has been convicted under that Act as recently as 2009. Failure to charge people under the Act is more a failing of the Crown Prosecution Service than anything else. We also think Ms Leadsom’s calls for a new offence is disproportionate with the very rare cases that actually occur.

Possible legislation

Ms Leadsom is under no illusions that her bill is unlikely to become law despite it having a second reading later in the year (November). However, she stated that the government’s Transport Minister, Mike Penning MP,  had suggested that provisions to update the law to take account of some her concerns could be included as part of other legislation to be introduced next year.

from Going Going Bike – Auctions, Bike News, Cycle Stuff

See Also:

RAC in favour of trial to allow left turns at red traffic lights
Lawyer voices concern on lack of “road rage” prosecutions

5 comments [leave one]
Michael March 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm

If this were to happen then arguably this would render shared use facilities unusable for cyclists for fear of being accused of dangerous cycling…


Hayes March 25, 2011 at 10:10 am

Fine. Because you know what? There seem to be more and more people riding on pavements. Or maybe it’s just I notice them more because sometimes I’m walking along them with my two year old daughter. But how about clamping down on jay-walking-mobile phone talking-not looking pedestrians, people who walk their dogs off leads near roads and drivers who talk on mobile phones, too? Last time I looked that last one (and maybe middle one) was/were illegal. And if there was ever a really good reason why the car in front of you (or next to you in the ‘bike box’ at lights) is being driven poorly, it’s because the driver is yapping away on mobile they’re holding in one hand. But you don’t just need harsher penalties, you need enforcement, too. Clearly the Police ‘don’t have time for this’. So do your bit. If you see someone doing something wrong, have a word. Or just carry on doing nothing. One or the other.


Andrew March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

This is a matter of priority, the government should look first at the law regarding leaving the scene of an accident. also i was hit by a motorist last year and received 4 broken ribs and serious knee and leg injuries, he got away with having to do a driver training day. I would also like clarification from the government regarding what i do about people who deliberately walk in the cyclelanes, can the law PLEASE allow me to kill the idiots.


Neil Warner March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

Hmm two pedestrians killed by cyclists in recent memory. By cars, 400+ pedestrian fatalities a year with a small fine and a couple of points as the penalty. Glad to see Ms Leadsom is in touch with reality


Howard Jones March 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

I see no reason why the law should not be the same for pedestrians,horse and carriage drivers!! motorists and cyclists,any one who kills another by their “reckless” actions on or off the road should expect the same range of penalties.It is for the Courts and Judges to apply those penalties having due regard for the circumstances of each case.

The case of a pedestrian (drunken or sober) who steps off a pavement without looking causing the driver 9or cyclist)to swerve to avoid him which then causes a fatality when the driver/cyclist concerned crashes into the lamp post or telegraph pole,should he/she not also fall into the category of reckless road user and be subject to the same range of penalties?
The trap everyone falls into is demonising one group over another,nothing to do with it, the same range of penalties should be available whoever is at fault


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Grab the GGB Weekly Newsletter

and we will send you our second hand bike buying guide.

Search Blogs


Need some jargon translated? Consult the Bikepedia.




Bicycle Sizing Guide

Second hand and used bicycle buying guide

Balance bike racing comes to the UK

Bicycle guide for long distance cycling and touring


The Wheelie Good Round-Up

Sky Ride partners with GGB on Giles Deacon cycling bag

The Wheelie Good Round-Up

Final day of our Raid Pyreneen

Day five on the Raid Pyrenees

Day Four on the Raid Pyrenees

Day Three on the Raid Pyrenees

Day two on the Raid Pyrenees

The Wheelie Good Round-Up

Day one on Raid Pyrenees