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Britain considers 14-year prison term for deadly cyclists

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Staff Writer | Sunday August 12, 2018 7:17AM ET
Britain cyclist
Britain   The current law dates back to 1861

Government ministers in Britain are to consider the introduction of a new crime of causing death by dangerous cycling.

Ministers are to announce within days a consultation on introducing the offence into British law, the Times newspaper in London reported.

It would mean cyclists who kill pedestrians would be treated in the same way as drivers in vehicles who already face a crime of causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum 14-year prison term.

The government announced last year that it was considering creating the offence following the case of Kim Briggs, a 44-year-old mother of two who was knocked over and killed by a cyclist in London in February 2016.

The cyclist, Charlie Alliston, then 18, was riding at 18mph on a second hand fixed-gear bike with no front brake, the Times report added.

Alliston was cleared of manslaughter but found guilty and jailed for 18 months for causing bodily harm by "wanton and furious driving", a crime dating back to 1861.

The old law had originally been used to deal with reckless handling of horses in the 19th century, but was used because there is no cycling equivalent of the laws used against dangerous drivers.

Matt Briggs, widower of the pedestrian who died in the collision with Alliston, said in the Times that the case demonstrated there is a gap in the law when it comes to dealing with death or serious injury by dangerous cycling.

Simon Munk of the London Cycling Campaign told the Times that the proposed new law change is not a priority.

"From a statistical and road danger reduction point of view, this should be way down the list of priorities. Which is not to say we should just ignore people who cycle dangerously, it's simply to say that the idea should surely be that you do the big things first then the little things later. The big things are heavy goods vehicles which are disproportionately dangerous on our roads and enforcement of driver behavior."

According to statistics, just 4 percent of people cycle each day in Britain, compared to 43 percent in the Netherlands. But the numbers of commuters cycling to work in Britain has increased by 17 percent in recent years.

In an official report earlier this year, figures showed that in 2016 a total of 736,000 cycle journeys a day were made in London and the figure has continued to rise.


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