The Department for Transport (DfT) has outlined plans to create new offences for cyclists equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving, and floated the idea of introducing a law against drivers passing too closely.
The DfT presented the controversial plans as part of ‘a two-pronged approach to make our roads safer’, including an initiative earlier this summer to help police crackdown on drivers who pass cyclists too closely.
It said it is also looking at updating parts of the Highway Code, including measures to counter close passing, ‘which puts people off cycling, and would benefit other vulnerable road users like horse riders’.
New design guidance for local authorities when planning cycling infrastructure is also being looked following a contract award to designers WSP earlier this year.
Cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman said: ‘In recent weeks we have announced a range of measures designed to protect vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. These include new measures to combat close passing, training for driving instructors, better collision investigation and £100m in new investment through the Safer Roads Fund.
‘Now we are taking further steps. These include a consultation on new cycling offences, further work on national guidance on cycling and walking infrastructure, and improvements to the Highway Code.’
The proposed ban was welcomed by Matt Briggs, whose wife Kim Briggs was killed by a cyclist in 2016.
However, charity Cycling UK said the plans were merely ‘tinkering around the edges’ without a ‘desperately-needed’ full review of road traffic offences that ministers had promised four years ago.
Head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore said: ‘We need a full review – something promised by the Government in 2014 - because the way the justice system deals with mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users hasn’t been fit for purpose for years.’
The charity backed the new moves on close passing and called plans for new design guidance for local authorities when planning cycling infrastructure ‘a vital move in the right direction’.
Safety charity Brake Commenting said that the Government’s intentions were sound but that it was 'trying to fix a fundamentally flawed legal framework'.
Director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: 'A full review of road safety law is required and frankly long overdue. All too often families are denied justice, with drivers who kill let off with pitifully lenient sentences, and the public endangered through dangerous drivers evading driving bans.'