Does a 'death by dangerous cycling' law offer equality for road users, or does it discriminate?

Getting road safety right is vital to ensuring the safest possible environment for all road users, and especially cyclists and pedestrians. Michael Melnyczuk, ICE Cycling Community of Practice, asks whether the UK government's new proposal is the right approach.
 

Is a law to penalise dangerous cyclists the right thing to do?
Is a law to penalise dangerous cyclists the right thing to do?
  • Updated: 08 October, 2018
  • Author: Michael Melnyczuk, ICE Cycling Community of Practice
Deaths caused by cyclists are high-profile. Media coverage of cases has arguably led to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) decision for a consultation on a proposed “death by dangerous cycling” law.

The DfT has recently launched an open consultation on new cycling offences: causing death or serious injury when cycling. ICE’s Cycling Community of Practice members are currently seeking ICE members' views on several of the key questions within this consultation to inform how the Institution should respond.
 

Does proposed ‘parity’ for all road users actually discriminate?

The DfT consultation document is seeking views about the need for a change in the law and where these laws should apply.

For example, should cyclists be prosecuted for incidents involving pedestrians in public spaces, such as parks and shared spaces, as well as on roads?

Clearly, the government's keen on increasing the number of people who walk and cycle for everyday trips, aiming to achieve equality between motorised and non-motorised users of our road network. It acknowledges the number one barrier to the uptake of walking and cycling is cited as safety or perceived safety. 

Risk on our roads, particularly for the most vulnerable, remains too high, and ICE is keen to contribute to the debate and would welcome your views on some of the consultation questions.

Considering the consultation questions

This DfT consultation on improving safety for cycling and walking proposes three main cycling offences:

  • death by dangerous cycling;

  • death by careless cycling; and,

  • causing serious injury by dangerous cycling.

ICE is seeking to focus on three of the nine questions stated in the consultation document. These are:

Q1. There should there be an offence of causing death by dangerous cycling. Do you agree with this proposal?

Q5. If there were a new offence of dangerous or careless cycling, do you think the sentences should match the sentences for dangerous or careless driving (current driving sentences shown in brackets)?
a. causing death by dangerous cycling (currently 14 years for driving)
b. causing death by careless cycling (currently five years for driving)
c. causing serious injury by dangerous cycling (currently five years for driving)

Q9. This consultation proposes that new offences should apply to public places as well as roads. Do you agree with this proposal?

Submitting your view

We therefore ask the members of this Institution, both motor vehicle drivers and those who ride cycles, what's your view?

As engineers of streets and urban spaces, do you believe that these proposals are the correct course of action to enable safe environments for vulnerable road users, and indeed to support increased uptake of active travel? 

Addressing this will require some soul-searching for motor vehicle drivers and those who ride cycles.

For a full list of the DfT consultation questions, please click here.

To submit your views on how ICE should respond to questions 1, 5 and 9 (as stated above), please email [email protected] by no later than 26 October 2018.

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