Bereaved families demand new PM for tougher cycling laws

bereaved families demand new pm for tougher cycling laws

Matthew Briggs, whose wife Kim was killed in a bicycle collision met Iain Duncan Smith at the House of Commons before an amendment vote - JULIAN SIMMONDS

The families of pedestrians killed by cyclists have written to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer demanding that whoever becomes the next prime minister backs new tougher dangerous cycling laws.

Earlier this month, an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill was unanimously passed in the House of Commons paving the way for cyclists who kill or maim to face similar jail terms to those imposed upon motorists.

The Prime Minister’s decision to call a snap election last week saw the Bill fall after it became one of up to a dozen pieces of proposed legislation lost due to a lack of parliamentary time.

Now, relatives of those who died after being involved in collisions with push bikes or e-bikes have signed a joint letter to the leaders of both the Conservatives and Labour asking for a pre-election pledge to introduce new laws.

The letter, written by Matthew Briggs, whose wife Kim, was killed in 2016 by a cyclist on a “fixie” bike without front brakes, stresses that any new laws should not be seen as “anti-bike”, something some from the pro-cycling lobby have suggested.

Instead, the letter, signed by numerous families who have lost loved ones, insists new laws would serve as both a deterrent for dangerous cycling – such as shooting red lights, riding on the pavements or flouting 20mph speed limits – and a suitable punishment for those who ride recklessly.

While motorists who kill can be jailed for life for dangerous or reckless driving, cyclists face a maximum of only two years in jail under a Victorian law for “wanton and furious” riding meant for horse-drawn carriages.

In theory, a charge of involuntary manslaughter, which can result in a life sentence, could be used, but it is highly unlikely it would lead to conviction, particularly while the lesser charge is available. Campaigners have been unable to find an example of a cyclist who kills being jailed for manslaughter.

‘A parity of penalty’

The families’ letter, seen by the Telegraph, calls for a “gap in the law to be filled” to create a “parity of penalty”.

It adds: “To be clear, each of us supports the idea to get more people cycling in the UK and we all recognise the benefits. This is about closing a legal loophole and not an anti-cycling endeavour in any way.

“However, with the increase in people cycling, there is a concomitant increase in risk and a modern democracy, we need adequate laws to deal with all eventualities.”

It explains how the amendment, tabled by Sir Iain Duncan Smith, fell because it did not “make the wash up” of legislation rushed through before the dissolution of Parliament.

“We are therefore taking the unusual step of writing to you both together to ask you to commit to finalising this simple, non-contentious but important legislation in the first session of Parliament if you are to be successful in winning the election,” it concluded.

Sir Iain told the Telegraph: “I’m going to approach both leaders to ask them to say that because it [the proposed new law] was accepted by both sides that they will commit to it, whoever gets in.”

Shortly after the election was called, Cycling UK, a campaigning charity, wrote to its supporters asking for donations because “cycling has been presented as a culture war issue and used to stoke division”.

The email urged cyclists to write to candidates “at this critical moment” to “press for increased investment in cycling” and to create “streets designed to give you more choice in how you move around.”

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