A backbench bill presented to the House of Commons by Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, is likely to get support and time from the Coalition Government, says the Law Society Gazette, saying "such a [ten minute rule bill] is normally used to highlight issues and does not [normally] result in legislation." The bill wants the same punishments to apply to road deaths caused by cyclists, bringing parity with motorists. In 2009, the last year for which road death statistics have been collated, no pedestrians were killed by cyclists, either on roads or on pavements. In the same year 426 pedestrians were killed by motorists, on roads and on pavements.
A new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling would be tagged on to other road safety legislation, promises road safety minister Mike Penning.
Cyclists and cycling organisations have asked why time is being given to a law change that will be used very rarely while deaths of cyclists and pedestrians caused by dangerous driving often result in desultory punishments.
Cyclists can already be fined for dangerous or careless cycling and more serious offences are dealt with under a section of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act originally aimed at the "wanton or furious" driving of horse-drawn carriages.
CTC argues the update us unnecessary given that courts have used the 1861 act in the last decade to jail two cyclists who killed pedestrians.
Chris Peck, the CTC’s policy co-ordinator, told The Guardian: "If the Department for Transport really wants to consider this as a serious proposal, then they need to consider the use of all road traffic offences. Currently, only around 25 percent of road deaths are prosecuted using ‘causing death by careless or dangerous driving’. We have recorded dozens of cases where the deaths of vulnerable users, including many cyclists, are never prosecuted."
Jorren Knibbe, a barrister who blogs on cycling law, said while Leadsom’s bill would plug a gap in the law it would be wrong for cyclists and motorists to receive similar punishments for the offence.
He said: "The number of pedestrian casualties brought about by cyclists each year is tiny, whereas the risk posed by cars is, statistically, much greater. So greater deterrents are needed for motorists, because it’s much more important for everyone’s safety that motorists are made to think twice before driving dangerously or carelessly.
"More generally, it’s a shame that the rare time which parliament spends talking about cycling should be taken up with this bill, when no one in recent memory has put forward any kind of positive cycling legislation."