Pedestrian death case could prompt new cycling laws - PM

Updated: 

New cycling laws could be introduced following the death of a pedestrian knocked down by a former courier riding an illegal bike, Theresa May has announced.

The Prime Minister said the Government will consider updating legislation after she was asked about the case at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons.

Charlie Alliston, 20, was convicted last month over the death of Kim Briggs, 44, who was hit as she crossed a road in London in February last year.

Charlie Alliston, 20, was convicted of running over and killing mother-of-two Kim Briggs (Lauren Hurley/PA)
Charlie Alliston, 20, was convicted of running over and killing mother-of-two Kim Briggs (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Dangerous driving laws only apply to mechanically propelled vehicles, meaning Alliston was prosecuted under a little-used 150-year-old law of causing bodily harm by "wanton or furious driving".

This carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment, compared with 14 years for death by dangerous driving. Alliston was riding a fixed wheel bike with no brakes.

In raising the issue in the Commons, Labour MP Heidi Alexander described the law which the prosecution relied on as "hopelessly outdated".

Labour MP Heidi Alexander (PA)
Labour MP Heidi Alexander (PA)

Mrs May replied: "She's raised an important issue. I think we should welcome the fact that the prosecution were able to find legislation under which they were able to take a prosecution.

"But the point she makes is a general one about ensuring that our legislation keeps up to date with developments that take place.

"I'm sure this is an issue that the Secretary of State for Transport will look at."

The Department for Transport said in a statement that "protecting pedestrians and all road users is a top priority".

32 pedestrians died and 820 suffered serious injuries after colliding with cyclists from 2005 to 2015 (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)
32 pedestrians died and 820 suffered serious injuries after colliding with cyclists
from 2005 to 2015 (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

It went on: "There already are strict laws that apply for cyclists and police have the power to prosecute if these are broken.

"But, as the PM said, the Transport Secretary is looking at the implications of the case, including whether dangerous driving should apply to cyclists who pose a danger to other road users.

"This will take into account the specific issue of types of bikes that lack the necessary safety equipment such as front brakes."

Transport minister Jesse Norman will meet Mrs Briggs' widower Matthew on Thursday to discuss the case and his views on the law.

Matthew Briggs, the husband of Kim Briggs (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Matthew Briggs, the husband of Kim Briggs (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Following the conviction of Alliston, Mr Briggs said: "The current law is outdated and has not kept pace with the huge increase in the number of people cycling and the associated increased risk of collisions, nor the attitude of some cyclists.

"We need to change the way the law deals with this.

"I am calling for an introduction of laws of causing death or serious injury by dangerous or careless cycling, thereby bringing cycling laws into line with the Road Traffic Act."