Widower of woman killed by bike courier welcomes plans for new cycling offence
The review will report conclusions on the proposed new offence in the New Year.
The widower of a mother-of-two who was knocked over and killed by a bicycle courier has “fully welcomed” the announcement ministers are considering a new offence of causing death by careless or dangerous cycling.
Charlie Alliston, then 18, was travelling at 18mph on a fixed-wheel track bike with no front brakes before he crashed into 44-year-old Kim Briggs as she crossed Old Street in east London, in February last year.
He was cleared of manslaughter but was locked up for 18 months this week after being found guilty of causing bodily harm by “wanton and furious driving”, a crime under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
The Victorian law, originally drafted to deal with reckless handling of horses, was used because there is no cycling equivalent in law of the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.
Speaking to the Press Association, Matthew Briggs said the case of his wife “highlighted a huge gap” in the law.
He said: “I fully welcome it and am grateful to the Government for acting so swiftly, and am looking forward to helping the review in any way I can and getting these laws on the statute book.
“Kim was by no means the first person this has happened to, but I think what Kim’s case has done is highlighted a huge gap in the law between one from 1861 at one end and manslaughter at the other end.
“Manslaughter could only be brought because these were a rather unique set of circumstances, otherwise they would have been left with the Victorian law.”
The review is likely to spark anger among cyclists, who point out that more than 100 bike users are killed and 3,000 seriously injured on British roads each year, compared with two pedestrians killed and 96 seriously injured when hit by a cycle in 2015.
Causing death by dangerous driving can be punished by up to 14 years in jail, but it was not immediately clear what maximum sentence ministers envisage for any new cycling offence.
Announcing the review, transport minister Jesse Norman said: “Although the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, we are always looking to make them safer.
“It’s great that cycling has become so popular in recent years but we need to make sure that our road safety rules keep pace with this change.
“We already have strict laws that ensure that drivers who put people’s lives at risk are punished but, given recent cases, it is only right for us to look at whether dangerous cyclists should face the same consequences.
“We’ve seen the devastation that reckless cycling and driving can cause, and this review will help safeguard both Britain’s cyclists and those who share the roads with them.”
The review is due to report conclusions on the proposed new offence in the New Year, based on independent legal advice.