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Dangerous driving law could be extended to include cyclists

11th September 2017

Bicycle chained to rail

An incident which led to the death of a pedestrian after they were hit by a bike has resulted in a debate over whether the existing law concerning dangerous driving should be amended to include cyclists.

In February 2016, 44-year-old Kim Briggs was struck by Charlie Alliston, who was riding a bicycle which had no front brake (something which is illegal on UK roads). Alliston was acquitted of manslaughter in August but found guilty of the archaic, 150-year-old offence of ‘wanton or furious driving’. Alliston will be sentenced next Monday, 18 September.

After the guilty verdict was announced, Kim Briggs’ husband, Matthew, had a statement read out on his behalf which described his wife’s death as “so senseless, so avoidable and so unjust”; Briggs also made clear that he would be seeking to help change the UK’s Road Traffic Act, which currently cannot be used to prosecute cyclists for dangerous driving, even when it can be proved that they were to blame for an accident.  

DfT to launch review of existing laws

At Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on 6 September (as reported in this Guardian article), the Labour MP Heidi Alexander – who was the Member of Parliament for Kim Briggs – asked Theresa May whether her government would consider amending the current law, as Mr Briggs had raised the prospect of.

In response, the Prime Minister noted that “she’s raised an important issue”, adding that “the point she makes is a general one about ensuring that our legislation keeps up to date with developments that take place”.

May then went on to confirm that she plans to ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, to look at the issue in more detail, with a Department for Transport spokeswoman later confirming that a review of the existing laws will take place shortly.

Whatever the results of the upcoming review, it will be interesting to find out in due course how much private practice or in house lawyer work may result from what is clearly an increasingly passionate argument concerning the rights and responsibilities of the UK’s cyclist population.

Image Credit: Sanwal Deen