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Causing Death by Dangerous Cycling

Currently, cyclists may only be prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act 1988 for a limited number of offences such as dangerous cycling, careless cycling and cycling whilst under the influence of drink/drugs. But these offences carry fines only – no prison time, no unpaid work, no disqualifications.

On very rare occasions, cyclists who have who caused serious injury or death have been prosecuted under general criminal laws of GBH or manslaughter, but those laws rarely fit the offence and so are more complicated to prosecute.

Hence the introduction of 3 new offences; causing death by dangerous cycling, causing serious injury by dangerous cycling and causing death by careless cycling. These 3 almost identically mirror the offences for which drivers can be prosecuted.

Causing death by dangerous or careless cycling will carry maximum sentences of 14 years and 5 years in prison respectively. The difference between dangerous and careless is whether the standard of cycling has fallen far below or just slightly below what is expected of them.

Causing serious injury by dangerous cycling will only relate to offences where the standard of riding has fallen far below what was expected and the injury caused was serious enough to amount to grievous bodily harm (defined as serious physical harm, for example a broken bone). This will carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

The law is being introduced through an amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1988 – inserting a new section 27A. However there is no official time frame for the introduction. It has been drafted and backed by a number of MPs, but the introduction of the legislation may now be delayed following the announcement of the General Election on the 4th July.

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