A Rise in Convictions under Victorian Legislation Prompts A Call for Changes to Cycling Law

Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham In: Criminal Defence

New figures have revealed a rise in cycling convictions under 19th Century legislation. It has emerged that in 2016, the number of convictions under the 1861 law doubled.

Matthew Briggs, the widower of a woman fatally struck by a cyclist in 2016 has urged the Government to make changes to cycling laws a priority as the offence of causing bodily harm by wanton or dangerous driving is “hopelessly out of date”.

Mr Briggs wife was killed in February 2016 after being hit by a cyclist who had no front brakes on his Olympic style bike and has called for the introduction of a new offence – causing death or injury by dangerous or careless cycling.

When the offence originally took place, the police had called Mr Briggs to say there had been an issue with the bike that his wife had been hit with but that they did not know which charges they could bring against the cyclist as the laws were not there.

After waiting 18 months for the case to go to trial, the cyclist was convicted of the crime under legislation from 1861 and was sentenced to 18 months in a youth institution.

From talking to other families who had experienced similar tragedies to him, Mr Briggs found that in all cases, there had been much confusion surrounding the adequacy of the law and what could be used to bring charges in relation to the offence of careless or dangerous cycling.

Mr Briggs has stated that the use of the Victorian legislation in his case highlights the need for the law to catch up with modern times.

Figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice have shown that in 2016 there were 8 convictions of causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving. This was an increase of 4 from 2015 and 3 in 2014.

Figures relating to the number of convictions in 2017 will be released by the Ministry of Justice in May this year.

In 2016, convictions for dangerous cycling rose to 26 from 23 convictions in 2015 and 24 in 2014.

There were also 63 convictions for careless and inconsiderate cycling in 2016 which was a decrease of 22 convictions in comparison to 2015. In 2014, there were 96 convictions in relation to this offence.

Mr Briggs has said that he has not received any opposition to his call for a change in cycling laws and that there has been tremendous support for it.

Andy Cash, Director at Cartwright King comments:

“Of course we have the greatest sympathy for those injured or bereaved following such incidents. However the statistics seem to indicate that the Police are prosecuting using available charges and it is not clear what changes are being proposed.

Cyclists are bound by the same rules in their use of our roads as motorists and other road users and generally treated in the same way.”

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