Cyclists who kill pedestrians will be treated and jailed like dangerous drivers under a new legal overhaul.
An ‘archaic’ loophole from the horsedrawn carriage age currently means they only face a maximum of two years behind bars.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an overhauled bill on causing death by bikes will go before MPs this autumn with the aim of lengthening sentences.
He said victims’ families had ‘waited too long for this straightforward measure’ and hit out at ‘a selfish minority’ of reckless riders.
Cyclists are currently covered by the Offences Against The Person Act 1861 – designed to prosecute ‘wanton or furious driving’ of horsedrawn carriages.
In contrast, on June 28 the maximum sentence for motorists who cause death by dangerous driving went up from 14 years to life.
This could now be applied to killer cyclists under Mr Shapps’ proposed ‘death by dangerous cycling’ bill.
He said the current ‘archaic law’ means prosecutions of killer cyclists must rely on ‘a legal relic of the horsedrawn era or invoke manslaughter, a draconian option’.
He added: ‘We need the cycling equivalent of death by dangerous driving to close a gap in the law and impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care.
‘For example, traffic lights are there to regulate all traffic. But a selfish minority of cyclists appear to believe that they are somehow immune to red lights.
‘We need to crack down on this disregard for road safety. Relatives of victims have waited too long for this straightforward measure.’
Mr Shapps may no longer be Transport Secretary when the new prime minister, announced on September 5, reshuffles the Cabinet.
But it is understood he will urge any successor to press ahead with the proposal. The change would also be dependent on backing from the new PM.
Campaigners have been calling for cyclists to be treated the same as drivers legally since mother-of-two Kim Briggs, 44, was killed as she crossed a road in east London in February 2016.
She was struck by Charlie Alliston, then 18, who was illegally riding a fixed-wheel bike with no front brakes at 18mph. He was jailed for just 18 months.
Mrs Briggs’s husband Matthew said the proposed overhaul would reduce suffering endured by families of victims.
He added: ‘Nothing’s ever going to take that grief away and the enormous pain a tragedy like a road collision brings.Map shows where families are most likely to fall into fuel poverty this winter
‘But at the moment, when they are trying to prosecute, the law is so archaic and that just compounds your grief because you want simplicity, clarity and efficiency to the process.
‘It’s not just about the punishment – surely there should be an equivalence in the sentence available to judges whether it’s a car, lorry or cyclist that’s killed someone. The mode of transport shouldn’t matter.’
In 2019, 470 pedestrians were killed on the country’s roads. This dropped to 346 in 2020 during the pandemic.
Only a handful of cases in recent years have involved bicycles, but Mr Shapps said even ‘one life’ lost to dangerous cycling is ‘too many’.
Prominent road laws solicitor Nick ‘Mr Loophole’ Freeman – whose celebrity clients have included David Beckham Ian Brown and Wayne Rooney – said manslaughter legislation was not geared towards prosecuting road deaths caused by cyclists.
He added he’s been ‘petitioning the government’ to update the law regarding riders ‘for a long time’.
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