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Dangerous and reckless cycling – do we need the new law?

7 April 2011

Last month the new Dangerous and Reckless Cycling (Offences) Bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons. The Bill is intended to create new offences of causing death or serious injury by dangerous or reckless cycling. Proposing it, Andrea Leadsom MP said:

I am a keen cyclist and I heartily support the many people who leave their cars at home and cycle to work and school. Over the last few years, there has been an upsurge in cycling, which is a great way to keep fit and healthy and a green initiative that I fully welcome. [...]

[I]n the vast majority of cases, it is the cyclists themselves who are the victims on our roads when they are killed or injured by motorists who simply fail to spot them. The penalties for dangerous or careless driving for motorists are as they should be – very strict. Occasionally, however, it is the cyclist who injures or kills while riding their bike, and this is the area I want to address today. At the moment, the punishment for cyclists falls far short of the crime, and I believe we need to update the law so that all road users are equally protected and take equal responsibility for their actions.

Ms Leadsom wants cyclists to be “charged with similar offences and given similar punishments to those that motorists currently face”. She has since written an article for the Guardian’s bike blog justifying her proposals.  

The Bill has been prompted by the death of Rhiannon Bennett after she was knocked down by a speeding cyclist. There appears to have been conflicting evidence as to whether the cyclist was on the pavement at the time of the impact; some reports, as well as Ms Leadsom’s account to Parliament, suggest that he was.  The cyclist was charged with dangerous cycling, convicted and fined £2,200 (the maximum penalty would have been £2,500). Ms Leadsom says that the problem in Rhiannon Bennett’s case was that there was “no charge which is appropriate to the crime”, and apparently the Crown Prosecution Service has also blamed the lack of an offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.

The new Bill will have its second reading in November – the delay may be due to the fact that its detailed provisions don’t seem to have been written yet. There is a real possibility that it could become law. But do we need the new offences?

The law at present

A motorist who commits the offence of causing death by dangerous driving faces a maximum of 14 years imprisonment. If they kill someone by driving in a way which was not dangerous but was careless, they can be charged with causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and face a maximum of 5 years in prison. (RTA ss. 1, 2B; RTOA Sch 2)

But if a motorist causes injury (hurts someone but they don’t die) there is no specific offence. Instead the motorist can be charged with one of the following:

  • Dangerous driving (maximum 2 years’ imprisonment – RTA s.2)
  • Careless driving (maximum penalty a fine of £5,000 – RTA s.3)
  • Causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving (maximum 2 years imprisonment – OAPA s.35)

By contrast, if a cyclist causes either death or injury, the following charges are possible:

  • Dangerous cycling (maximum penalty a fine of £2,500 – RTA s.28)
  • Careless cycling (max fine £1,000 – RTA s.29)
  • Causing bodily harm by wanton or furious cycling (maximum 2 years’ imprisonment – OAPA s.35)

Alternatively, both cyclists and motorists can be charged with general offences – such as manslaughter, or causing grievous bodily harm. But it can be difficult to show that they had the necessary intention to cause harm to fulfil the requirements of the general offences.

Causing death

When Ms Leadsom says there is no specific offence for causing death by dangerous or reckless cycling, she is right. She’s also right that the position is different for motorists, where there are specific offences of causing death by dangerous or careless driving.

So the proposed offences of causing death by dangerous or reckless cycling would fill a gap in the current law. The new Bill as it currently stands would not make the law on causing death the same for cyclists and motorists, because recklessness is likely to be a stricter standard than carelessness – so your riding would probably have to be worse to cause death by reckless cycling (the proposed new offence) than a driver’s driving would have to be to cause death by careless driving. But the laws would at least be similar.

Ms Leadsom has also said that cyclists should be given “similar punishments” to motorists. It may be that she means that the maximum sentences for causing death by dangerous/reckless cycling should be the same as the maximum sentences for causing death by dangerous/careless driving. If so, that would be a big change in the approach which the law takes to sentencing.

For example, at the moment dangerous driving carries a maximum of 2 years in prison, while the maximum penalty for dangerous cycling is a fine of £2,500.

The current approach to sentences reflects the vastly different levels of risk which cycling and driving pose to others. The number of pedestrian casualties brought about by cyclists each year is tiny, whereas the risk posed by cars is (statistically) much greater. In other words, a bicycle being ridden dangerously isn’t very likely to hurt anyone other than the rider; a car being driven dangerously is, comparatively, a death machine. So much greater deterrents are needed for motorists – it’s much more important for everyone’s safety that motorists are made to think twice before driving dangerously or carelessly.

 So if the new offences of causing death by dangerous/reckless cycling are created, the penalties should not be the same for cyclists as they are for motorists, because the risks which the two activities pose to others are vastly different – as the current law recognises.

Causing injury

Ms Leadsom has also said that a new offences of causing injury by dangerous or reckless cycling are necessary to bring cycling laws in line with motoring laws. This is misleading: in fact the law is the same at the moment. The current wanton/furious driving offence comes from the same section of the same Act as the wanton/furious cycling offence, and is the only specific offence of causing injury for both motorists and cyclists. (OAPA s. 35)

So a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous or reckless cycling wouldn’t make the law the same for cyclists as it is for motorists. Instead it would create a new offence for cyclists which doesn’t exist for motorists, with the potential to make the law harsher for cyclists than it is for motorists.

The existing offence of causing bodily harm by wanton/furious cycling comes from a statute made in 1861, so I’ll call it “the old law”. Ms Leadsom has criticised the old law.

First, Ms Leadsom has said that the old law is “little used”, and that it is “unlikely to be successfully upheld in cases such as the Rhiannon Bennett case”. In fact there have been at least two successful prosecutions for causing injury by wanton/furious cycling since 2008. Interestingly, both cases involved cyclists riding on the pavement and knocking over a pedestrian, who later died. It’s not clear why the cyclist in Rhiannon Bennett’s case wasn’t charged with this offence – it may be because the evidence conflicted as to whether he was on the pavement at the time he collided with her. If he wasn’t, then the prosecution might have felt it would be hard to establish that his cycling was wanton or furious – for example, as I’ve said before, the simple fact that he was riding fast along the road might not be enough to amount to wanton or furious cycling.

But there’s no legal reason why the old law should only be applied when the cyclist is on the pavement. And, anyway, the old law also allows two further charges – causing bodily harm by wilful misconduct or wilful neglect. If the cyclist in Rhiannon Bennett’s case wasn’t on the pavement, it may well have been possible for the prosecution to seek convictions based on charges of wilful misconduct or wilful neglect instead. It’s not clear why they didn’t.

Second, Ms Leadsom has said that the old law is “completely out of date. This seems to be a criticism of the language used in the statute. She’s right that wantonness, furiousness, wilful misconduct and wilful neglect are terms which are no longer commonly used in the law. By contrast, the terms dangerousness and recklessness (which are the basis for the new suggested offences) are used elsewhere, so there are more recent cases to serve as a guide for the courts.

It may well be right that using the more modern language could make prosecutions for causing injury easier. But remember that the old law is the only specific causing injury offence for motorists too – so if the old law needs to be changed for this reason, then it needs to be changed for both motorists and cyclists. This would require general road traffic legislation – not the Bill which is currently before Parliament.

At present the wanton/furious driving offence doesn’t appear to be used much against motorists. The maximum penalty is the same as the maximum penalty for dangerous driving – 2 years in prison. So when a motorist causes injury, prosecutors can just charge dangerous driving and there won’t necessarily be any reason for them to seek a conviction for the (more difficult) wanton/furious driving offence. Looked at in another way, this means that in legal terms causing injury by dangerous driving isn’t necessarily treated as any worse than the act of dangerous driving itself. As far as I’m concerned, if anything needs reform, it’s that.

Third, it might be said that the maximum penalty for the old offence – 2 years in prison – isn’t high enough for a cyclist who injures someone. But 2 years is also the current maximum for a motorist who injures someone and is convicted of wanton/furious driving or of dangerous driving. And the penalties for cyclists should be lower than the penalties for motorists, because of the different risks involved.

It’s no doubt true that some motorists who cause injury are prosecuted under the general offences – such as causing grievous bodily harm – and receive higher sentences. But, as I’ve said, the general offences can be used for cyclists too. It might be more difficult to convict a cyclist for GBH, because their vehicle isn’t so obviously a dangerous weapon – but if that’s the reason for a different treatment of motorists, then the different treatment is entirely justified.

Conclusions

So there is a fair argument in favour of the new offences of causing death by dangerous/reckless cycling. But it would not be right to make the sentences the same for cyclists as for motorists who cause death by dangerous/careless driving, and it would not be consistent with the approach which the law presently takes to maximum sentences.

However the proposed offences of causing injury by dangerous/reckless cycling are very questionable indeed. Contrary to what Ms Leadsom has said, the law on causing injury is the same at the moment for motorists and cyclists – it comes from the same section in the 1861 Act. It may need to be changed, but if so, it needs to be changed for both cyclists and motorists, and the new Bill does not do this. Making the proposed changes in the Bill, which affect cyclists only, would be harsher on cyclists than motorists. 

More generally, it’s sad that an MP who professes to be a cyclist should take up the rare time that Parliament spends talking about cycling for this Bill, when no-one in recent memory has put forward any kind of positive cycling legislation. As Ms Leadsom admitted in her speech, “in the vast majority” of accidents involving cyclists, the cyclist is the victim. Why not do something about the vast majority of accidents instead? What about a presumption of liability which works in favour of the weaker road user? Or a law allowing cyclists to ride on any pavement which is beside a dual carriageway?

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Photo by movingtargetzine from here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/movingtarget/138631132/

39 Comments leave one →
  1. Philip permalink
    7 April 2011 12:42

    Interesting post – it does seem hard to avoid the conclusion that the moral weight of the crime should be the same.
    But do we need a new law?
    Isn’t it enough for constructive manslaughter to show that the person caused death whilst committing an unlawful and dangerous act, even if they did not have intention to cause death so long as they have the mens rea for the “underlying” crime? Or does that require them to know and intend that it be dangerous? Alternatively there’s manslaughter by gross negligence but I accept that could be much harder to prove.

    • 8 April 2011 09:31

      hi philip

      thanks for posting!

      do you mean the moral weight as between a cyclist and motorist who kill a pedestrian on the pavement, for example?

      i’d have to check the answer to your precise question about manslaughter. but if it requires an underlying unlawful/dangerous act, i can see difficulties in the road traffic context – if you can’t rely on speeding (the limits don’t apply to cyclists) and there isn’t an obvious infringement (like riding on the pavement or jumping a red light), then the unlawful act could be hard to establish.

      if anything it looks like a similar problem to using wanton or furious cycling/driving, at least on the interpretation that the CPS seem to place on those offences!

  2. 7 April 2011 12:47

    Excellent article. Makes things very clear.

    The reporting around the death of that poor girl has been very muddy all along. I really don’t have a clear idea of what happened. As you say, it isn’t even clear he was on the sidewalk at the time.

    In any event, it seems to be the old adage: hard cases make bad law.

    • 8 April 2011 09:33

      thanks dermot – agreed – a murky (and very emotive) case, and not a great starting point for new legislation.

  3. livinginabox permalink
    7 April 2011 13:03

    ‘the simple fact that he was riding fast along the road’

    The Police certainly didn’t think he was on the pavement:
    Sgt Dominic Mahon of Thames Valley Police told the BBC Howard could have been travelling at about 17mph when he struck Rhiannon.
    He said: “We think Rhiannon was probably a few inches, or a foot, in to the road and then she moved towards the pavement.”

    17 mph – fast? in a 30 mph road. A number of reports in the anti-cyclist media used the descriptor ‘speeding’.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jul/09/ukcrime

    I have no problem with cyclists to be treated equally with motorists – in all aspects. But this is addressing inequality, by making the inequality worse – hardly a recipe for success. We have a systemic bias in the Police, CPS and the legal system. Many cases are dropped for reasons that remain obscure, of the few that get to court, many motorists get off with only a token slap on the wrist. It seems that a motorist has only to whisper the magic words ‘ I didn’t see them’ / ‘they came out of no-where’ or the new one: ‘I was distracted by a spider’ and they can walk from Court often with licence intact and a small fine. This has to stop.

    If Andrea Leadsom were true to her word, she would be campaigning for mandatory minimum standards of investigation; much stricter and prescriptive sentencing guidelines; and careful auditing of sentences and penalties to counter any systemic bias.

    The stories of what happened to the victims of dangerous drivers are every bit as harrowing as the account Andrea Leadsom gave in the House of Commons. Despite being far more numerous, they and their grieving friends and relatives are being ignored, because motoring MPs will not face-up to their responsibilities and the voters.

    • 8 April 2011 09:44

      the speeding thing is interesting, isn’t it? the speed limits don’t apply to cyclists, 17mph is well below the speed limit for cars, and a cyclist generally is much less likely to do harm. tragic consequences in this case, but, as dermot has said, not a good basis for a new law.

  4. 7 April 2011 13:07

    Interesting post – however, it might be worth pointing out that this is a ten-minute-rule bill, and therefore very unlikely to become law unless the government decides to give it time (also unlikely – they’ve got other things to do with legislative time)…

    • 8 April 2011 09:37

      hi alasdair – based on the bill’s current wording, let’s hope you’re right!

    • Al Gunn permalink
      14 April 2011 15:23

      Alasdair,

      I haven’t read all the comments yet, so maybe this point has been made, but this is now looking likely to be made law as it enjoys private support from the Government. How that will happen is unclear, most likely being incorporated into seperate, Government sponsored legislation.

      I suspect that there will be scrutiny both in Dept for Transport and then in the Commons/Lords. The 10 min rule bill has not yet been scrutinised.

  5. 7 April 2011 21:40

    The cctv evidence was clear that Jason Howard had been cycling on the road shortly before the drunken teenagers stepped into the roadway. What is not clear is whether or not he went on to the pavement to avoid them, or that he ended up on the pavement after hitting Rhiannon. It is most likely that a charge of ‘Causing bodily harm by wanton or furious cycling’ would have failed.
    Had he been driving a car, Jason’s actions would not have been considered bad enough for a charge of ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ but would possibly have been suitable for ‘causing death by careless driving’. However the latter offence did not exist at the time of the crash. Had he been driving a car the most likely outcome at the time would have been a charge of careless driving and a fine of less than £1000, plus points on his licence.
    There is a sense in applying similar laws to cyclists as the, now tougher, laws for motorists. However, to base the argument on a case where a cyclist got twice the ‘going rate’ compared to sentences given to motorists is not sound.
    Because such crashes are extremely rare they attact excessive media interest, there is always a risk the prosecutors and juries will act much more harshly with the exceptional killer cyclist than the every day killer motorist.

    • Amoeba permalink
      8 April 2011 05:38

      charlie_lcc,
      ‘…Because such crashes are extremely rare they attact excessive media interest, there is always a risk the prosecutors and juries will act much more harshly with the exceptional killer cyclist than the every day killer motorist….’

      Very true.
      Because the Public ‘knows’ that cyclists who kill are all lawless criminals while motorists – well they’re not real criminals they’re all law-abiding citizens, who were just unlucky.

      I’ve seen a Judge quoted somewhere saying something like that about a motorist, (not the bit about cyclists).

    • 8 April 2011 09:55

      hi charlie

      thanks for posting – i’d agree with much of what you’ve said. you seem to have extra info about the case – it would be interesting if you could point to any additional reports you know of!

  6. 11 April 2011 09:12

    Over the weekend the guardian reported on this topic here, with news that the government appears to be supporting the Bill, so its chances of being passed are much greater. The article included some quotes based on this post!

  7. alan permalink
    11 April 2011 15:48

    This proposed change in the law makes no sense to me.

    A car is 1 tonne of very unforgiving metal which needs to be driven with respect. If you drive over someone in a car, at any speed, you will likely kill them. People have even been killed on their driveway when their car has rolled backwards and crushed them.

    If you drive over someone with a cycle, its very, very unlikely to kill someone, or even break any bones.

    A cyclist could knock someone over and their head hits the curb and the person is killed. A tragedy, but a freak accident. Most people knocked over, for any reason, will only get some minor cuts or scrapes (excluding oaps).

    But its not just cyclists who can knock people over. A jogger could knock someone over and, if their head hits the curb, die as a result. The same is true for someone walking, not watching where they are going, and again knock over someone else. You could easily get tripped up by a pram and, in a freak accident, get killed.

    If you follow through the logic of dangerous cycling, then we also need laws for dangerous jogging, dangerous walking, and dangerous use of a pram.

    And from another perspective. Someone driving their car dangerously is unlikely to get killed, or seriously injured, but the car could easily kill or seriously injure many pedestrians. Having laws for dangerous driving laws, redress the imbalance of lack of harm to car drivers versus serious harm to pedestrians.

    A cyclist is very likely to get seriously hurt from cycling recklessly, but is unlikely to cause serious injury to any pedestrians. We do not need new laws for dangerous cycling, because in almost all cases it is the cyclist who will suffer the direct consequences of his/her actions.

    A 1000kg of car is not remotely comparable to 75kg cyclist+cycle.

  8. 11 April 2011 17:00

    “A cyclist could knock someone over and their head hits the curb and the person is killed. ”

    Something very like this happened in the Republic of Ireland (a case that was about as emotive in Dublin as the Rhiannon Bennett case has been in the UK), though the person who died was merely startled by a bicycle courier coming the wrong way up a one-way street and took a step backwards.

    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=68489098&postcount=76

  9. scotslawstudent permalink
    11 April 2011 19:59

    I don’t really see how the deterrent argument affects what the penalty for cycling should be.

    Surely people are still going to be deterred from driving dangerously around people if they face 14 years in jail for killing someone, even if they also face 14 years for killing someone in a different way?

    • 11 April 2011 20:13

      hi SLS

      i’m not sure i quite follow. my argument is that the deterrent component in the sentence for cyclists (for causing death by dangerous cycling) ought to be less than the deterrent component in the sentence for motorists (for causing death by dangerous driving), because it’s more important for everyone that the motorist is deterred. i hope this clarifies!

      • scotslawstudent permalink
        11 April 2011 20:43

        I don’t really agree that it’s necessarily more important to deter motorists from killing people. I know that in aggregate motorists kill more people than cyclists but everyone on trial for death by both dangerous cycling and driving offences will have allegedly killed someone. It seems to me that society benefits from individuals in both groups being deterred from engaging in dangerous behaviour and although more people are killed by cars at the same time we don’t prefer that people be dangerous on bikes.

      • 12 April 2011 09:47

        hi scotslawstudent

        we can’t deter all behaviour which poses danger to others by criminal sentences – if we did so, no-one could ever leave the house. so we need to choose what we deter; and in that context it makes sense to put greater deterrents on behaviours which pose greater risks to others. i think as a society we do (or should) prefer that people are dangerous on bikes rather than dangerous in cars, because the former activity poses so little risk to others.

        you’re right that anyone convicted of causing death by dangerous cycling or driving will have killed someone – but the other aspects of the sentence, the retribution and rehabilitation aspects, are there to address individual guilt. deterrence is a general aspect, which doesn’t refer to individual guilt but to influencing risky behaviour (in advance).

    • Amoeba permalink
      11 April 2011 21:01

      scotslawstudent,
      The problem is that in general, motorists who kill aren’t treated as criminals. They’re treated as good people who made a mistake, even when they were culpable for known reasons. The prosecutions are often dropped. Whereas cyclists who kill are treated as inherently bad. Compare the treatment of motorists who kill with anyone who kill by any other means and you will find that motorists are treated over leniently.

      ‘CTC also highlighted the inequities in the way the legal system deals with these road user groups. During the last decade, judges issued prison sentences to each of the cyclists who killed pedestrians. By contrast, the courts have tended to hand down small fines or community sentences to drivers who kill.’
      http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopModules/Articles/ArticlesView.aspx?TabID=0&ItemID=617&mid=13641

      The system is inherently biased in favour of the motorist. Only motorists who are doing really bad things are treated seriously.

      [quote]
      This research started by asking whether those drivers who are convicted of killing vulnerable road
      users are less harshly punished than other criminals who cause death without intent. It is now clear that this is indeed the case. Nationally four times as many RTA fatalities occur as homicides in Britain, yet there are less convictions for lethal motoring offences than homicide offences.
      Convicted drivers typically receive a lesser sentences than other comparable criminals, and often
      receive a monetary fine with no detention sentence at all.

      A question regarding the construction of differential identities for drivers and cyclists was also
      posed. What has come to light may be summarised as follows. Drivers who kill ‘merely’ through
      carelessness are regarded by the judiciary as unlucky but often blameless: an implicit empathy –
      “There, but for the Grace of God, go I” – is evident. However, driving offenders who are also
      implicated in vehicle theft or drink and drug abuse are likely to be condemned by judges and
      magistrates as ‘real’ criminals, even if their standard of driving was no lower. Meanwhile VRUs
      may be held unfairly responsible for their fate: cyclists have been blamed for wearing dark clothing
      or no helmet despite it being the car and not the cycle which creates the danger, just as rape victims are blamed for wearing revealing clothing despite it being the attacker and not the victim who commits the assault.

      The final research question regarded the ideologies and power relations behind the regulation of
      Britain’s roads. Is it simply a coincidence that the vast majority of police officers, magistrates,
      judges and lawyers are drivers? And that those most likely to be killed by drivers, and least likely to
      be drivers themselves – the very young, the elderly, the poor – are also least likely to be policy
      makers and legal officials? And (perhaps running alongside or perhaps cutting across these themes) is there not a link between the fact that almost all drivers who are convicted of killing are male1, and that almost three quarters of all magistrates and judges are men2? The evidence indicates that this is no coincidence. Those policy makers and legal officials who are in a position to change matters are mostly drivers and have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Those young, elderly, poor and female demographic groups who are disproportionately likely to be killed as VRUs, and disproportionately likely not to have access to a car, are relatively powerless and cannot change the status quo. This is not a deliberate conspiracy; indeed it is perhaps not even a widely appreciated phenomenon. It is simply the way in which the legal system has evolved over the past century.
      [end quote]
      A Critical Review of the Legal Penalties for Drivers Who Kill Cyclists or Pedestrians
      J Voelcker April 2007

      So it’s not a matter of equalising sentences, As Andrea Leadsom sees it, but it’s one of equal treatment in Law. It’s as if motorists were members of a secret society and with a ‘nod and a wink’, the investigation is quietly dropped, or a trivial and minuscule penalty is imposed – because that’s typically what happens.
      This has got to stop.

    • Al Gunn permalink
      14 April 2011 15:36

      With SLS on this. The length of a sentence should reflect the gravity of the offence, not the statistical likelihood of it’s having happened. Causing death by bad cycling is very rare, causing death by bad driving is less rare. Both involve death, both involve (presumably) a proveable degree of recklessness or carelessness.

      I suppose the counter-argument is that if you are careless on a bike you are more likely to get away with it, so the deterent need not be so swingeing – it’s OK to take more risks if you’re on a bike than in a car. I don’t agree that this is a sensible argument but can see a certain validity.

      Deterence is a red herring here.

      • 14 April 2011 18:41

        hi al

        i’m not arguing that if you’re careless on a bike you’re more likely to get away with it – rather, that if you’re careless on a bike you’re very unlikely indeed to hurt anyone. even if you don’t accept the argument based on the deterrent element of the sentence, the moral quality of the act is different (from the moral quality of dangerous driving), and this is true even if someone else is killed as a result.

        it’s like the difference between firing a gun into a crowd, and throwing a stone into a crowd – both can kill, but they involve a different degree of culpability because one is much more likely to kill. if a death resulted, (as far as I’m concerned) the person who fired the gun would deserve a higher sentence than the person who threw the stone, because their act was worse (carried a higher degree of risk/certainty of harm).

        in legal terms, this goes to the retributive element of the sentence (I think), which in my view should also be greater for motorists than it is for cyclists.

  10. Amoeba permalink
    11 April 2011 21:15

    If cyclists are going to be prosecuted for dangerous and reckless cycling, it seems only fair that pedestrians should be liable for injury to cyclists.

    According to City of London Police

    Cyclists injured by Pedestrians: 20 stepping into the path or side of the Cyclist without having looked.
    Pedestrians injured due to the actions of a Cyclist: 15 (4 Failing to Conform to ATS and 4 Failing to conform to another sign).
    These statistics emphasise:
    a) That pedestrians represent a greater danger to cyclists, than vice versa.
    b) That pedal cyclists are human beings too and are clearly more vulnerable than pedestrians and are not at all similar to motorised vehicles (a distinction that some seem incapable or unwilling to comprehend).

    http://cycalogical.blogspot.com/2011/01/no-cycling-in-deans-yard-westminster.html?showComment=1294759076544#c7257371571129204821

    I have tried to establish the national figures for cyclists injured by pedestrians, but so far have failed to disentangle the statistics. Perhaps someone might make helpful suggestions.

    • Jim permalink
      13 April 2011 09:39

      Table 23c in the ‘Tables part II’ link on the right here might give you what you want: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/rrcgb2009

      As I interpret it, it shows that there were 271 reported collisions between cyclists and pedestrians in 2009, as a result of which there were 77 cyclists injured and 275 pedestrians injured (due to a few ‘multiples’, I suppose). 1 cyclist was killed and 14 seriously injured, compared to 64 pedestrians seriously injured.

      These statistics don’t tell us anything about who was ‘responsible’ for the collision, however.

      • 13 April 2011 10:17

        thanks jim – great stuff

      • livinginabox permalink
        13 April 2011 11:38

        Jim,
        Thanks for that, I’ll have a delve when I have time.

        On a personal note, as a pedestrian I’ve never been hit by a cyclist, although I’ve been buzzed too close at speed by a few without a single bell-ring – I presume that’s what most people mean by ‘I was nearly killed’. I really don’t like being buzzed and I suspect nobody else does. I’m sure it stokes enmity towards cyclists.

        As a cyclist, I’ve hit one pedestrian.
        Many years ago I was cycling Northwards in Kingston-upon-Thames Market-place when motorised through traffic was still allowed and I hit a pedestrian.

        She was one of a number of pedestrians walking along the pavement when I saw her and I was on the road [where I normally cycle]. She changed direction and without looking, stepped off the kerb into the road and walked still without looking, across the road and my path. I slowed to let her cross, and if she had continued on her way or stopped where she was, I would have passed behind her and no collision would have happened. However, what next happened caught me completely by surprise. She emerged from her little world, became aware of my presence and in her amazement she leapt into my path. I had almost stopped when I collided with her.

        What did I learn? Apart from the ‘expect the unexpected’, pedestrians do the stupidest of things.

  11. 13 April 2011 11:45

    BBC running an article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13040607

  12. livinginabox permalink
    7 June 2011 08:30

    One of the bogus arguments about the ‘war on the motorist’ is the fact that motorists can lose their licence, whereas cyclists can’t.

    Freewheeler has a very interesting post about drivers who manage to continue driving despite many accruing 12 points and as many as 36 points. This needs deeper exploration. Surely, the Law has no teeth for such people.

    http://crapwalthamforest.blogspot.com/2011/06/10000-maniacs-how-courts-indulge-some.html

  13. 29 June 2011 14:40

    I’ve never run anyone over on my bike, or indeed, ever hit anyone, but for “Ms” Leadsom, I might make an exception. One has to wonder – was she born stupid or was it a skill she acquired?

  14. Mirius permalink
    28 July 2011 15:00

    Yet another pointless piece of legislation. The one and only purpose of this, as with many other similar Bills (and some enacted too!) which are already adequately covered by existing laws, is showboating by MPs who leap on a tragedy and use it as a tool to get themselves into the media spotlight and thus presumably extend and promote their own careers.

  15. blondwig permalink*
    7 October 2011 11:36

    It’s being reported this morning that the government is planning to introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving – see for example this Guardian article.

    I can’t find any more detail on the proposal at the moment. At first glance, it would partially solve one of the problems identified above. But if Ms Leadsom had her way, she would also create an offence of causing serious injury by reckless cycling, and this would be harsher on cyclists than the government’s new proposals for motorists (which would create an offence only where the driving was dangerous, a stricter standard than recklessness).

    I’ll post more as further info becomes available.

  16. hayho permalink
    26 November 2011 17:29

    last week i had a cyclist crash into the side of my car as i passed at a crossroads, now what i would like to know is should the cyclist be charged or prosecuted for not stopping at the crossroad as it was my right of way, the cyclist also had no lights on their bike, it was early in the morning so it was still dark, and later discovered they had no brakes on the bike. obviously if it was the other way round and i did’nt stop at the crossroad and hit the bike i would be charged for it. from a drivers point of view we have to have road tax, car insurance and have our vehicles mot to make them road worthy, where as any body at any age can buy a bicycle and get straight out on the road.

    • blondwig permalink*
      27 November 2011 18:03

      hi hayho

      there are, obviously, cyclists who misbehave, and i’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with one. as to whether he should be prosecuted, that’s a call for the police. it will no doubt depend on which precise rule he broke, and they will probably also take into account the fact that no-one was hurt.

      i’m not seeking to justify what sounds like it may well have been a serious neglect of the road rules. but it’s worth bearing in mind that had it been the other way around, and you had been driving without your lights on, ignored a crossroads and hit a cyclist, there’s a very good chance that the cyclist would now be dead. that’s the reason why drivers and cyclists are treated differently, and should be.

  17. EricD permalink
    10 March 2012 21:18

    In Scotland, aged 10, I was told, during Cycling Profiency training, that cycling _was_ driving in the eyes of Scots Law – even roller-skating or pushing a trolley or buggy. A vehicle that is in motion and my being in control of it, or something. Rather than new specific law, wouldn’t it be easier to amend existing law, to clarify or widen its scope ?

    Also could you look into why the word ‘reckless’ is no longer used in motoring law ?
    I understood (in ~1987 ?) the definition was ‘knowing that a risk exists, but taking that risk regardless … “. I imagine the change might have been a recognition that road use is _always_ risky, so all road use is reckless ! Won’t the same problem exist with the new proposed legislation ?

    Norway is interesting in this context – there is no such thing as ‘just an accident’ – someone is always responsible !

    BTW is your moniker ‘blondwig’ related to research on wigs, cycle helmets and motorist behaviour ?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/5334208.stm
    “While wearing the wig, drivers gave him an average of 14cm more space when passing.”
    http://www.drianwalker.com/overtaking/overtakingprobrief.pdf
    I’ve bought a wig, but am yet to try it out !

    Take care!
    Eric

  18. blondwig permalink*
    12 December 2012 09:55

    I’ve just come across a question which Andrea Leadsom asked in Parliament in 2010, revealing CPS statistics for prosecutions under section 35 of the 1861 Act. The statistics cover both wanton/furious driving and wanton/furious cycling, and don’t differentiate between the two. But they do suggest that prosecutions for the offence are more common than might be thought.

    The question is here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2010-11-09c.23023.h

    Finder’s credit to thirdcrank from here: http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=70996

Trackbacks

  1. Who has priority on shared paths? | UK Cycle Rules - information on cycling law in England and Wales
  2. Cycle law on radio 4 | UK Cycle Rules - information on cycling law in England and Wales
  3. Causing serious injury by dangerous driving - a new offence | UK Cycle Rules - information on cycling law in England and Wales

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