The Government is considering legislation to tackle “dangerous cycling”, Justice Minister Edward Argar has told Parliament.
Current laws were described as “old”, with it being “difficult to successfully prosecute offences”, according to Argar while answering questions in the House of Commons.
Argar responded to a query from former Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, who asked what work is underway to “make sure that the sentencing for those convicted of dangerous cycling is equalised with the sentencing guidelines for those convicted of dangerous driving?”
Argar confirmed that the issue is still being considered during an ongoing process by the Department for Transport (DfT).
“The safety of our roads is a key objective for the Government. Protecting all road users is a priority,” the Justice Minister said. “Like all road users, cyclists have a duty to behave in a safe and responsible manner. While laws are in place for cyclists, the current laws are old and it can be difficult to successfully prosecute offences.”
The campaigners, many of whom are bereaved relatives of people killed by reckless cyclists, are pushing for the law to be updated to include stricter punishments for cyclists who kill while riding recklessly.
At the moment, offenders can be jailed for a maximum of two years under the 1861 wanton or furious driving law. However, it’s unlikely any new bill could come through before the next election
This renewed focus on cycling safety comes after the announcement that permanent cycle lanes will be installed on parts of Kensington High Street this month after a majority of public consultation respondents supported the idea.
Many people have misconceptions about what is and isn't lawful to do while riding a bike, including whether bikes are allowed on pavements.
So what are the laws around cycling on the road and cycling on the pavement?
What are the laws around cycling on pavements?
Both Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 and the Highway Code suggest it’s not legal for a cyclist to ride their bike on the pavement.
Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 prohibits “wilfully riding” on footpaths, which refers to the path at the side of a carriageway. Since bicycles weren't as widely used in England as they are today, the original law from 1835 doesn’t exactly mention cyclists or bicycles. It also didn't mention pavements because that word is more recent.
The Highway Code also states: “You must not cycle on a pavement.”
Is it an offence to ride a bike on the pavement?
The punishment for riding a bike on the pavement is an immediate £30 fixed penalty notice fine.
This is charged under Schedule 3 and Section 51 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
Typically speaking, only a very small percentage of cyclists in the UK receive a fine for cycling on the pavement. When they observe a cyclist violating the law, the majority of police officers will inform them verbally that they are infringing the law and should stop using the pavement.
Repeat offenders or those who endanger pedestrians or others may, however, be prosecuted.