17 Aug 2018

Pedestrian Death Could Lead to Tougher Laws for Cyclists

A revamp of the laws prosecuting cyclists who cause the death of a pedestrian are being proposed, and would bring punishments in line with those for dangerous driving offences.

A 12-week consultation has begun at the Department for Transport with the aim of overhauling outdated Victorian road safety laws, following the death of Kim Briggs, who died after being hit by a bicycle courier in February 2016.

Ms Briggs, a mother-of-two, was struck by 18-year-old Charlie Alliston, who was travelling at a speed of 18mph on a fixed-wheel bike without front brakes. He was jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of causing bodily harm by 'wanton and furious driving', an offence that dates back to the handling of horses in Victorian times, as there is currently no cycling equivalent to causing death by dangerous driving.

"What happened to Kim was rare, but it's not unique and I don't want another family to suffer a double whammy of grief and then go through this legal minefield,” said Matthew Briggs, Ms Briggs' widower. "A week after Kim died, the investigating officer told me there might be an element of wrongdoing, but then came the 'but', that he didn't know what to charge him (Alliston) with.”

While there is agreement that causing bodily harm by wanton and furious driving is not a satisfactory charge, the planned changes to the laws around bikes have been described as "tinkering around the edges" of road safety by cycling campaigners. Cycling UK has called instead for a 'full review of road traffic offences' in order to better tackle mistakes, carelessness, recklessness, and deliberately dangerous behaviour on the roads.

The government has also announced that parts of the Highway Code will be updated to fight the close passing of bicycles, while national guidance for cycling and walking infrastructure are to be introduced.

Pedestrian deaths caused by cyclists still form a low percentage of Britain's annual road casualty figures, accounting for just three out of 448 fatalities in 2016.

Regardless of the numbers, the tragic case of Ms Briggs has highlighted the need for reform in order to better serve justice to those cyclists who take the lives of pedestrians. We're sure that further developments and announcements will not be far away.

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