Apparently, a 1861 law is the only act that can convict cyclists who cause any type of harm to others. However, there have been several high-profile accidents involving cyclists. They have now created a strong and national-wide debate on the available laws that cover this disturbing issue.
This week, the British government has officially announced an urgent review of these laws in the wake of Charlie Allison’s sentence. The rider accidentally killed 44-year old mother called Kim Briggs. At the time of the tragic event, Allison was riding a bike that had no front brakes. This was more than enough to kill the woman after being knocked down by the rider.
However, this was only the latest case that sparked the debate on the law used in cases of cyclists who injure or kill people. The current law can only charge cyclists with dangerous or careless riding. The maximum fine the involved cyclists have to pay varies from 1,000 – 2,500 pounds. However, it seems there are no criminal offenses that specifically apply to cyclists who cause the death of a person.
Among many cyclists who faced charges under the current law include Darryl Gittones, Charlie Alliston and Darren Hall. Unfortunately, all of them fatally knocked down passing pedestrians.
Apparently, riders whose careless cycling causes harm or death can only be convicted under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act through the issue of “wanton and furious driving” that it covers. The maximum penalty the charge carries is only two years. It is the closest act to dangerous cycling. Even though its primary intention was to act on horse-drawn carriages.
How might this law change in the near future?
One of the most favorable options that might be considered is making the current dangerous driving laws more applicable to all cyclists and not only to mechanically propelled vehicles where these laws are mostly being applied on.
“Given that cyclists share the road with motorists, and are demonstrably capable of causing serious harm through carelessness, it is my firm belief that this technical distinction should be removed so that dangerous cyclists can be prosecuted on the same terms as car drivers.” – Personal Injury lawyer Mr Claxson said.
He also added: “Any attempt to amend existing legislation around dangerous cycling must also take note of the relative vulnerability of cyclists when using the road.”