Specialist solicitors are divided over the government’s decision to introduce criminal offences for causing death by cycling, with critics stressing that most road deaths are caused by drivers. 

Ministers have backed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, put forward by former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, to introduce the ‘offence of causing death by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, and causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate cycling’. It will mean that cyclists who kill or seriously injure because of dangerous cycling, or who kill through careless cycling, face the same penalties as drivers and motorcyclists who do so.

But experts in the sector pointed out that most deaths on the roads are still caused by vehicle drivers, and suggested the change will not make roads safer.

Leigh Day partner Sally Moore, head of the firm’s personal injury department, said: ‘The proposal to introduce a law of causing death or serious injury by dangerous careless or inconsiderate cycling is simply tinkering at the edges of legal reform. Instead, what is required is a wholesale review of laws governing our roads to make them safer for everyone. ‘Without exception, everyone using our roads needs to obey the Highway Code. Putting the spotlight on cyclists who cause injury and death is a distraction from the much wider issue which the government should be focused on, which is doing something meaningful about the shameful statistics of death and injury on UK’s roads and their huge social and personal cost.’

Moore said any such change should be focused on the vehicles which caused the greatest harm, pointing out that virtually all deaths and injuries on roads are caused by vehicles, not bicycles. 

Kevin O’Sullivan, principal solicitor at Cycle Legal, said: ‘Cows kill more pedestrians each year than cyclists and so it is most surprising that the government have managed to find the time to address something that happens so incredibly rarely. What would benefit society so much more in my view would be to give the police and the CPS sufficient resources to prosecute drivers who kill and maim approximately five other road users each day on UK roads. Cyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to motor vehicles driven carelessly or dangerously.

‘What I see routinely in the last 15 or so years is a motorist causing life-changing injuries to my client, a cyclist, and then the police closing the investigation within weeks or even days without even asking the injured cyclist, who may be still in hospital, their version of events. They have simply been starved of resources to conduct a proper investigation.’

However Nick Freeman of Freeman & Co Solicitors, the lawyer known as 'Mr Loophole', welcomed the new reform. He has been petitioning the government for many years to make the change and also to introduce licence plates for bicycles. ‘If you hold people to account, they will cycle more responsibly and will make the roads safer’, Freeman said. ‘There is no reason why there should not be parity. If you are cycling dangerously, the cycle is a weapon and you are doing so cognisantly, there could be serious consequences which you should pay for if that happens.’ 

Nick Freeman (Mr Loophole)

Freeman has been petitioning the government for many years to make the change

Source: Alamy

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