Between August and November 2018, the Department for Transport held a consultation on New Cycling Offences: Causing Death or Serious Injury When Cycling. The consultation documents and proposals are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-cycling-offences-causing-death-or-serious-injury-when-cycling
Whilst PACTS broadly supports the proposals to introduce new offences, we have a reservations and caveats.
- Overall, we support the legislation because no alternative is proposed. However, rather than creating legislation specifically targeted at cyclists, we would have preferred extension of the manslaughter-type legislation to cover a wider range of dangerous/carless activities which result in serious harm. Scotland appears to have superior legislation in this respect.
- We do not see Dangerous/Careless cycling as being equivalent to the driving offences. Cyclists are not required to undertake training, testing or licensing and include children. They cannot be judged in the same ways as drivers.
- Whilst cyclists clearly have a responsibility not to endanger others, there is little or no expectation in the minds of cyclists that they are likely to kill or seriously injure another road user. This is quite different for car drivers where the dangers are overt and regularly reinforced by road safety messages, media etc.
- There is no mention or data in the consultation document on the fact that cyclists are at risk (and suffer injury) in collisions with pedestrians. Moreover, the majority of reported pedestrian-cyclist collisions occur on the carriageway, where the cyclist would normally have right of way. Reliable data are scarce as many of these incidents go unrecorded, but PACTS is aware of serious injuries suffered by cyclists as a result of pedestrians stepping into the carriageway without paying due attention. We do not propose creation of dangerous/careless walking offences but any new legislation relating to cyclists should take this into account, as should the courts in applying it.
Whilst we accept that legislation may be needed to “fill a gap”, the number of pedestrian deaths involving cyclists is very small relative to the total number of road deaths (1,793 in 2017). There are much bigger priorities for road safety and we support the calls of other road safety groups, those representing vulnerable road users and active travel organisations, for the Government to honour its commitment to undertake a wider review of the effectiveness of road traffic laws and sentencing in terms of delivering road safety and justice.
PACTS response to the consultation is available here: PACTS Online Response to CWIS Safety Review