A prominent road traffic solicitor has responded to the announcement by the Government that it will consider an offence of ‘death by dangerous cycling’ by saying that encouraging the police to enforce the existing rules of the road would be more effective in preventing deaths.
Jeremy Sirrell, a Partner and head of the firm’s motoring offences department, made the comments after the Department for Transport launched a 12-week consultation on the proposed introduction of new offences for cyclists.
The law as it currently stands, would require someone who kills by cycling dangerously to be charged with manslaughter, as happened in a high-profile case last year, or furious and wanton driving, a law enacted for road conditions in the 19th century.
“Whilst a law of causing death by dangerous cycling would be far more straightforward and would enable prosecutions to take place far more easily, the question remains as to whether such prosecutions are any more than a token response to a prominent news item,” said Jeremy.
“The number of other road users – invariably pedestrians – killed by cyclists remains very low at two to three a year.
“Many motorists and pedestrians, whilst welcoming the introduction of such a law, perceive that the existing laws that apply to cyclists are very often ignored and breaches of those laws, whether it is going through red lights or cycling on the pavement seem to go unpunished by a police force that is largely, if not totally, uninterested in enforcing the road traffic laws against cyclists.”
He added: “Introducing a high-profile law that will change no one’s behaviour, whilst ignoring the thousands of breaches of etiquette and road traffic law being undertaken everyday may seem to be, to many, a pointless exercise.
“A law that is only going to produce two to three prosecutions a year will not make the roads any safer, whereas if the police enforced the laws that are already in place for cyclists, this would assist with making roads safer.”