New cycling laws would be 'missed opportunity'

Adrian Wills's picture

New cycling laws would be 'missed opportunity'

New cycling laws would be a missed opportunity to improve road safety unless introduced as part of a comprehensive review of all road safety laws, Cycling UK has said. The national cycling charity was responding to an independent report that found a strong case for introducing new laws on causing death by dangerous and careless cycling.

Although ministers have yet to decide whether to accept the report’s findings, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns, said: “What’s needed is a full review of all road traffic offences and penalties, something the Government promised back in 2014 but has yet to deliver.

“Whether someone is prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving is often something of a lottery, as are the resulting sentences, leaving thousands of victims and their relatives feeling massively let down by the justice system’s failure to reflect the seriousness of bad driving”.

“Adding one or two new offences specific to cyclists would just be tinkering around the edges, especially when the way that mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users is dealt with hasn’t been fit for purpose for years.”

“That system can’t be fixed simply by bolting on one or two new cycling offences to something which isn’t working now.”

The number of cases involving collisions between cyclists and pedestrians remains relatively low. In 2016, 448 pedestrians were killed on our roads, but only three of those cases involved bicycles. And in the last ten years 99.4% of all pedestrian deaths involved a motor vehicle.  

Meanwhile, Cycling UK believes that cyclists and pedestrians are regularly being failed by the existing laws on careless and dangerous driving, with only 27% of drivers convicted of death by careless driving sent to prison, for sentences on average of only 14 months.

In contrast, Charlie Alliston was jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of causing bodily harm by "wanton and furious driving", a crime under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

As part of today’s announcement by the DfT, the road safety minister Jesse Norman MP has published a call for evidence, asking for a range of opinions on everything from improved infrastructure to training and awareness campaigns for all road users.

Mr Dollimore said: “We are pleased that the scope of this review reflects what Cycling UK and other groups have called for, and this now presents a real opportunity to deliver the measures that can secure more, and safer cycling and walking.

“We also hope that the Government’s request for evidence of the case for new road safety rules means they’re now open to a more comprehensive review to support its aims to encourage more people to walk and cycle in greater safety.”

Within the wider review Cycling UK will be actively engaging with the DfT and presenting the evidence for safer road and junction layouts, safer lorries, and a number of revisions to the Highway Code.  These should include new rules on overtaking cyclists and opening car doors safely, and improving pedestrians’ and cyclists’ safety and priority at junctions.

Cycling UK will be striving to ensure that the review focusses on the causes of danger which deter people from walking and cycling, or allowing their children to do so.

Contact information 

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email

Notes to editors 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone.
  2. Find out more about how Cycling UK has been campaigning to improve the safety of cyclists, through its Too Close for Comfort campaign, its Dutch Reach initiative, and how it brought about more than 40 rules to be changed in the Highway Code.
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