27 January 2017
Whilst cycling is a fun, healthy and comparatively safe activity, many people reading this blog will have a tale to tell about what happened to them, a family member, or someone they know. Their story about how, at some point in the process, they believe that the justice system failed them, or simply that something could have been done better is all too common.
Of course my perception of what should have happened and how things should have been dealt with might well be skewed or at least influenced by my own personal experience, pain or anguish: but when the same or similar concerns are repeatedly raised, and patterns appear to emerge, it must be right to ask whether the justice system works as well as it might for cyclists,and where and how it might be improved.
Naysayers, sceptics and pessimists
With that in mind, the new inquiry launched by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), into Cycling and the Justice System, should be hugely welcomed by anyone who rides a bike, or who has family members or friends that do so. Yet we know there will be the naysayers, the sceptics and the pessimists, who will criticise the remit of the inquiry,question whether it can achieve anything, and view it through a cynical lens.
If you tend to that persuasion, ask yourself whether you’re content to carry on complaining, or whether it’s preferable that a group of cross-party politicians look into these concerns, and at least attempt to influence or affect change.
What are they looking at?
As a cycling campaigner on road safety and road justice issues I am variously told by Cycling UK members, supporters, other campaigners, and people who just ride bikes, that there is not enough road traffic enforcement by the police, collisions involving cyclists are not treated seriously, and victims are not dealt with appropriately.
I could go on, but the gist of it is that people identify problems all the way through the system, which is why, when the inquiry was launched, the APPCG identified 14 issues which they could consider, which broadly fall within four categories, namely:
1. Road users and victims
2. Enforcement and investigation
3. Criminal Law
4. Driver awareness and civil justice
These categories in many ways mirror the themes within Cycling UK’s Road Justice Campaign, the stated aim of which is to improve how the justice system handles bad driving, in order to actively discourage irresponsible driving and raise driving standards for the benefit of not just cyclists, but all road users.
Over 200 people and organisations have sent submissions to the inquiry and the APPCG start hearing oral evidence next Tuesday 31 January, when amongst others, Cycling UK will be giving evidence. The quantity and quality of the written submissions means there will now be five oral evidence sessions over several weeks, with the report to be launched on 27 March.