Peter WalkerFri 9 Mar 2018 07.00 GMT
Amid plans for an unnecessary law change targeting cyclists, a parallel government consultation on safety makes some unexpectedly sensible points
For those interested in the many benefits that come from getting more people cycling, there’s some bad news and good news today – and in another minor compensation, at least the bad news was widely expected.
This is the confirmation from the Department for Transport (DfT) that, as widely trailed at the weekend, a review it commissioned has recommended there should be a new law about causing death or injury by dangerous cycling, as for driving.
The review followed the death of Kim Briggs, who was killed in 2016 after she was struck by a bike ridden by Charlie Alliston. It transpired that his bike was not legal for road use – it had no front brake – and he was jailed for 18 months.
He was eventually convicted of the old and arcane offence of “wanton and furious driving”, prompting Briggs’ widower, Matt, to campaign for the new law. Ministers will consider the proposal, but it’s fair to assume the change will be made given the scale of media coverage of the case.
Others have detailed why this change is of questionable merit, and Laura Laker eloquently explains why the media narrative of cyclist-as-menace is simply not backed up by any facts.
It’s depressing if unsurprising that the government was bounced by media pressure into taking on this idea. When it was first raised, the DfT said it would also launch a review into cycling safety, amid loud (if probably inaccurate) reports that this could herald a law for mandatory helmet use for cyclists.
The consultation for this review has arrived at the same time as the proposed law change and this is where the good news comes in: overall it makes about as much sense about cycling as any central government document on the subject as I’ve seen.