Cyclists who kill face tougher jail terms after crackdown on ‘legal loophole’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has reportedly said he will create a “death by dangerous cycling” law that will treat killer cyclists the same as motorists.

Announcing the plans, Mr Shapps said the law is needed to “impress on cyclists the real harm they can cause when speed is combined with lack of care”.

The move will close a legal loophole which means that cyclists who kill pedestrians can only be jailed for two years.

It comes four years after the Government ran a consultation on proposals for new offences of causing death or serious injury while cycling.

Mr Shapps wrote in the Daily Mail that a “selfish minority” of cyclists believe they are “immune” to red lights.

“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,” he told the Mail.

“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.”

Under Mr Shapps’ proposal, the new law would be added to the Transport Bill due to be put before Parliament in the autumn.

Mr Shapps said that the current law is “archaic” and designed for the horse-drawn era.

Prosecutors have to rely on the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, which is aimed for injuries caused by horse-drawn carriages, yet motorists can now be sentenced to life in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

In 2017 a cyclist convicted over a crash that killed a pedestrian was found guilty under the 150-year-old law.

Charlie Alliston, 20, was cleared of manslaughter after he knocked down 44-year-old mother-of-two Kim Briggs while riding a fixed wheel bike with no brakes.

Instead, he was convicted of the crime of causing bodily harm by “wanton or furious driving” and could be jailed.

The case posed a dilemma for prosecutors, as causing death by speeding bicycle is so rare it falls outside the usual traffic laws.

Early on, they were left grappling with how to proceed because charges of death by dangerous or careless driving only apply to motorised vehicles.

The law was previously used in 2015 in the case of 21-year-old Darryl Gittoes, who pleaded guilty and was jailed for 12 months.

Gittoes was riding a defective bike which had no brakes, a deflated rear tyre, a cracked front tyre and no bell when he hit Mary Evans, 73, in Hereford city centre in July 2014. She died in hospital nine days later.