'Killer cyclists' crackdown accelerates as MPs back action after deaths in London

The Government said it would ensure “justice is done” against dangerous cyclists after MPs backed a change in the law to update an antiquated offence.

Cyclists who cause death by dangerous cycling could face up to 14 years in prison after the House of Commons on Wednesday voted through an amendment to create three new offences.

Pressure for the change has built since the deaths of at least two pedestrians due to collisions with cyclists in London, including one in Regent’s Park in which the man riding the bike escaped prosecution.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper confirmed that the Government would adopt the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament.

He said: “Most cyclists, like most drivers, are responsible and considerate. But it’s only right that the tiny minority who recklessly disregard others face the full weight of the law for doing so.

“Just like car drivers who flout the law, we are backing this legislation introducing new offences around dangerous cycling,” the minister said.

“These new measures will help protect law-abiding cyclists, pedestrians and other road users, whilst ensuring justice is done.”

The amendment creates three new offences including “causing death by dangerous cycling”, “causing serious injury by dangerous cycling” and “causing death by careless or inconsiderate cycling”.

The Commons campaign has been led by former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith following the death in 2016 of Kim Briggs, a 44-year-old mother of two, when Charlie Alliston crashed into her on a fixed-gear bike with no front brakes in Old Street, east London.

He was cleared by a jury of manslaughter but jailed for 18 months for causing bodily harm by “wanton and furious riding”, under an 1861 law covering horse-drawn carriages that carries up to two years in jail.

It emerged this month that police had decided there was little chance of convicting a Credit Suisse banker who was involved in a fatal collision with an 81-year-old dog walker in central London.

Brian Fitzgerald crashed into Hilda Griffiths in June 2022 while doing laps of Regent’s Park with his Muswell Hill cycling club.

Regent’s Park has a 20mph speed limit, but Mr Fitzgerald’s group had been averaging 25mph around the park and had even reached 29mph, according to GPS readings.

Royal Parks this week urged Strava and other exercise apps to remove the park’s Outer Circle as a segment on their sites, where users can attempt to outdo each other with the fastest time. Strava’s leaderboard shows the record holder had an average speed of 34.2mph on the route.

Sir Iain made reference to the struggle to secure justice of Kim Briggs’ husband Matthew as he told MPs that the new law is “urgent”.

He said: “This is not, as is often accused by people who say anything about it, anti-cycling. Quite the opposite, it’s about making sure this takes place in a safe and reasonable manner.

“The amendment, I believe, will achieve equal accountability, just as drivers are held accountable for dangerous driving that results in death, cyclists I think should face similar consequences for reckless behaviour that leads to fatalities.”

Causing death or serious injury by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate driving are already offences, but only if the vehicle is “mechanically propelled”.

The proposed law would also require cyclists to make sure their vehicle “is equipped and maintained” in a legal way, which includes keeping brakes in working order. It would apply to incidents involving pedal cycles, e-bikes, e-scooters and e-unicycles.

Sir Iain this week visited Regent’s Park with LBC, using a speed gun on passing cyclists and meeting a woman, Paola dos Santos, who suffered a fractured skull when she was hit by a cyclist two weeks ago at the same spot that Ms Griffiths was killed.

"Cyclists need to go slower, it's a culture problem. London is not a velodrome,” Ms dos Santos said.

Cyclists groups, however, have long urged responsible riding around pedestrians and are warning against a disproportionate response as ministers step up pre-election rhetoric in support of motorists, including calls for local councils to ditch cycle lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods.

Former Top Gear presenter James May condemned “disrespectful and irresponsible” cyclists for racing around Regent’s Park, but said it would be “nonsense” to restrict cyclists in such places.

And cyclists face their own threat in Regent’s Park, with “bikejackings” by moped-riding thugs on the rise.

Lucy Straker, campaigns manager at the road safety charity Brake, said the Government was neglecting to tackle hundreds of deaths on the roads.

"As the Government are keen to support this new legislation, then perhaps they would also be keen to deliver on their commitment to publish a new Road Safety Strategy - which they committed to doing in 2021 - and to which we are still waiting for in 2024,” she told the Standard.

“In 2022, 1,766 people were killed on our roads - a 10% increase from 2021.

“A Road Safety Strategy would include measures to reduce the number of people being killed and seriously injured on our roads - however they choose to travel - and help people find healthy and safe ways to travel."