New ‘death by dangerous cycling’ law could punish killer riders

Prosecutors have had to rely on the Offenses Against The Person Act 1861, designed to cover offenses with horse-drawn carriages, to secure a conviction of causing bodily harm by “wanton or furious driving”.

Killer cyclists can also be charged with manslaughter, but legal experts say it is not designed to prosecute riders and juries are unlikely to find people guilty.

By contrast, motorists face a maximum jail term of 14 years for causing death by dangerous driving if the offense was before June 28 this year. For offenses after that, the maximum sentence is life, following a law change.

The new offense causing death by dangerous cycling would be included in the Transport Bill, due before Parliament in the autumn. Although Mr Shapps may not be Transport Secretary under a new Tory leader after Sept 5, he said he would continue to press for the change.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Shapps said the current “archaic law” meant prosecutions of killer cyclists must rely on “a legal relic of the horse-drawn era or invoke manslaughter, a draconian option”.

He added: “We need the cycling equivalent of death by dangerous driving to close a gap in the law and impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care.

“For example, traffic lights are there to regulate all traffic. But a selfish minority of cyclists appear to believe that they are somehow immune to red lights. We need to crack down on this disregard for road safety. Relatives of victims have waited too long for this straightforward measure.

“As we move into an era of sustained mass cycling, a thoroughly good thing, we must bring home to cyclists – too often themselves the victims of careless or reckless motoring – that the obligation to put safety first applies equally to every road user. There can be no exceptions.”

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