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Death by dangerous cycling — a new offence?

New proposals from the Government are set to make death by dangerous cycling an offence.

Many will be familiar with the criminal offence of death by dangerous driving and new proposals from the Government are set to make death by dangerous cycling an offence.

The current law

At present cyclists can be prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act. However, this can only result in a maximum fine of £1,000 for careless cycling and £2,500 for dangerous cycling. It is also possible for cyclists who cause injuries to be prosecuted under alternative criminal legislation such as causing actual bodily harm under S47 of the Offences Against the Person Act. However, the Government are arguing that this is a long and convoluted process which needs to be amended.


Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith has been campaigning for a change in the law to tackle what he views as a gap in current legislation. His campaigning follows the tragic death of Kim Briggs in 2016 who was killed after a cyclist collided with her in east London whilst riding a bike with no front brakes. Mrs Briggs suffered a catastrophic head injury and the cyclist was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of wanton and furious driving, an offence which dates back to 1861. The archaic legislation was originally designed to cover driving offences involving horse drawn carriages and, MP’s say, highlights the requirement to update current statute.


The following proposed amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill have been introduced:

  • Causing death by dangerous cycling;
  • Causing death by careless or inconsiderate cycling; and
  • Causing serious injury by carless or inconsiderate cycling

The current definition of dangerous cycling, as stated in the Road Traffic Act 1988, is riding in a way which ‘falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist’ with the definition of careless cycling being cycling on a road without ‘due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road’.

The requirements needed to satisfy the offence are yet to be finalised although it is likely they will be similar to those in dangerous or careless driving cases. It is also likely that the proposed amendments will require cyclists to ensure their vehicle is maintained in line with legal requirements.


The proposed legislation has been supported by 37 other Conservative MPs and will now need to be approved by the House of Lords before becoming law.

If approved, cyclists who are charged under the offence of death by dangerous cycling could face up to 14 years in prison.

The proposed changes serve as an important reminder to road users to ensure they are maintaining safety standards as far as they are able.

It is worth noting that the Government’s decision to call a general election on 4 July may well put the legislation on hold. However, it is likely it will be reintroduced for discussion once Parliamentary time permits.

For further information, contact our regulatory lawyers.

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