Here’s one to make your blood boil. Last week’s backbencher’s bill to increase the sentences for dangerous cycling is yet another example of bias against bike riders.

Although I’m certainly not opposed to the prosecution of any cyclist who does harm to others, why does the law need changing to give bike riders tougher sentencing when it’s car drivers who really need cracking down on?

Fortunately, cyclists are rarely linked to pedestrian fatalities with only 29 cases between 1998 and 2007 and none in 2009, the last year statistics were published. Meanwhile the car stats include 7,629 pedestrian deaths for the 10-year period and 426 fatalities from two years ago.

Also listed are the 104 cyclists who died on the roads in 2009, so why are MPs picking on cyclists when really they should be looking to protect us?

In the last decade both cyclists who killed pedestrians went to jail but it’s commonplace for judges to issue community service or small fines to drivers who kill.

In the last month alone there have been two cases of drivers killing cyclists and getting off with
100-hours’ community service and a one-year driving ban.

We need the legislation to protect us, not prosecute us.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly

  • Mark Howden

    Why don’t cyclists use cycle lanes and paths when they are there?

  • Bill

    Here we go again poor old cyclist being victimised . Whilst I can agree there are some very bad drivers out there some cyclists need to learn that they don’t own the road or pavements . Only last night my wife came out off the supermarket and was nearly ran over by a cyclist on the pavement, they just jump red lights cycle up one way streets the wrong way and across zebra crossings when people are on it. Why don’t car users and cyclists take care when making any maouvre it is not all down to vehicles , it is clear to me that the problem seems to be lack of respect

  • Glen

    Hit by a cyclist who skipped a red light this morning! By putting my hands up to protect myself I was accused of assalt. I think the same laws of the road should apply to cyclists. For those cyclists who hold driving licences this should ultimately result in penalty points where traffic offences occur as for those without driving licence a criminal record would not go amiss.

  • Mikey

    As a walker (my most common means of getting around), a bus user, and a motorcyclist, I have seen all road users misbehave, at times presenting me with a direct threat to health, if not life. This is intimidation.

    All groups, but cyclists in particular, appear to strike a superior attitude to all others. Together with this, actual reality (e.g black really does disappear in poor light no matter what some smart lawyer says; the human frame breaks most easily; cycles suddenly jinking onto Zerbra crossings from illegal use of the pavement do really seem to “come out of nowhere” – even if you ridcule that statement) is ignored, with idealogy triumphant.

    It’s too easy to keep on hating and feeling superior and hiding behind a (fascist) presumption of guilt on the other party. If you survive long enough, you might just reflect on the misery death and injury leave behind. The size of the vehicle is irrelevant, but walkers will be the softest target of all.

    There is a clear lack of wil, to consider others all the way through this, and I am thankful, for this reason alone that I am no longer young. To quote Jagger and Richard “Rape, murder / It’s just a shot away”: what a world!

  • Liam

    If cyclists want equal consideration on the roads of Britain then they should have number pates and carry third party insurance like the rest of the road users are required to by law. Try telling your crack pot theories to those who have been killed or seriously injured by cyclists or the many other road users who’s vehicles have been damaged by cyclists. None of these people have any finical recourse to hold the cyclist responsible. Are you saying that’s right? or am I just picking on cyclists?

  • heather yeoman

    im apedestrian im partially sighted and have a brain tumour i was ram raided on the pavement by a cretan riding a bike who rode off on the pavement stop whining and get together and get friging bike lanes because i swear the next time im asulted bt one of you monsters im going to asualt you right back stop illeagally riding on the pavement go look at the granny left with a smashed face and then verbally abused by one of your thugs for using the pavement and getting in his way and then tell me how hard done you are for god sake if your scared walk

  • Nick Rearden

    Hi Phil,

    We do moderate but no reason to screen your comment because it’s polite and you make some good points. Only yesterday, while I was driving, I had to watch a group of teenagers on their bikes ‘terrorising’ a little old lady on a pavement. However, my internal anger was not because they were cyclists but because they were rude, thoughtless and obviously nothing in their education had prepared them for dealing nicely with the elderly. I no more identified with them as fellow cyclists than I did as a motorist with the numerous drivers I encountered on the same trip, doing much the same ‘terrorizing’ number on other drivers and, indeed, cyclists and pedestrians.

    Speaking as a road user and a pavement walker, I know there is already enough legislation to deal with issues as they arise. The solution to the problem lies partly in enforcement and partly in education. But sadly, and more importantly, it’s the culture to be rude and selfish while going out and about by whatever means and no amount of new legislation will deal with that.*

    We all need to look to our manners and, obviously, at Cycling Weekly, we’re going to encourage cyclists to set a good example, be nice, and support the law. But I’m confident that the great majority of cyclists – as opposed to the highly-visible minority that allow an attention-seeking MP to win a headline or two – are at the more aware and considerate end of the road-user spectrum. They have to be because their lives literally depend on it daily.

    * Actually, as Kim and Robert way up above write, if we had had one new piece of legislation it would be one that copied the old Dutch law based on ‘strict liability’ that presumes the motorist is always at fault in a battle with a bicycle, the cyclist is always at fault if they hit a pedestrian etc. This intelligently takes into account that cyclists will always prefer not to be hit by a car and so on. The EU wants the UK to adopt this law but, guess what? Not exactly a vote winner, is it?

  • Phil Caldwell

    I’m speaking as a pedestrian who has been near-missed many times and hit once by pavement cyclists while walking to work in central Birmingham. It can be very frightening just walking along the pavement. The lout who collided with me didn’t even stop to see if I was OK. There are a lot of out of control dangerous cyclists out there, and many of them are using the pavements just to beat urban one way systems.

    Remember two wrongs don’t make a right and you guys REALLY need to clean up your public image – just because you feel car drivers treat you badly doesn’t mean you should have immunity when you endanger pedestrians. You should welcome any legislation that weeds out the bad apples that get you such a bad name – and there are plenty of them.

    I bet you moderate this!

  • Jonathan Reynolds

    Actually I don’t think legislation on either motorists or cyclists will solve anything. Instead I think every learning motorist should be given hands-on uncomfortable experience of the momentum and hardness of a motor vehicle simply rolling a few feet down a very gentle incline. Then maybe they would have some appreciation of the vulnerability of flesh and bones compared with 3/4 ton of fast metal. I have a very keen appreciation: I was scooped up onto the bonnet of a car from behind, then flung in front of its wheels.

  • Scott Cadzow

    The bike in the case was the weapon. The 10 minute bill proposed reinforces an absurd notion of the weapon used to kill somebody determining the penalty for the killing. Killing somebody should be viewed as unlawful killing always and weather the death is caused by bike, car, gun, knife, fighting or anything else it should be treated as unlawful killing and penalty set by the end result and not the weapon used. The circumstances of the killing are then more important. Plea bargains for getting away with murder will always exist if we extend the statutes in the way proposed.

  • Alastair Macintosh

    To all those who voted Tory, thanks a bunch, not ! You can expect a lot more of this attitude in the coming years.

  • John Wakeman

    It seems pretty obvious to me that a cyclist who causes the death of a pedestrian should be up for a similar penalty as a car driver who does the same. It seems to me that this MP is making a reasonable case. ‘Bad’ cyclists who cycle on pavements, over red lights, disregarding pedestrians etc., are responsible for creating an impression among other road users that all cyclists are dangerous, arrogant and so forth. These perceptions directly lead to dangerous and irresponsible driving in relation to cyclists. Stupid people on bikes need to have the potential consequences of their actions thrust in their faces: killing someone is not a small matter, however it happens, and irrespective of whether stupid drivers cause far more deaths.

  • Paul Gormley

    I agree with Ian’s suggestion that the national bike groups should start up a high profile campaign for better protection for cyclists. I’m sure many cyclists ride on pavements through fear, either of the lack of awareness or reckless disregard of vehicle users. Many a time we have seen cyclists killed and the perpetrators barely punished. All of us could reel off any number of incidents where our safety has been compromised. It’s time for the cycle groups, the cycling press and the cycling industry to rally national support for the rights of cyclists to use roads in safety.

  • Ken Evans

    As a Tory maybe she should talk to Boris Johnson (Mayor of London),
    or even David Cameron (the Prime Minister).

    Both of which sometimes ride a bike !

  • guy jones

    This has come about probably because the mp has seen a london cyclist doing something daft in london and is abusing her position. this mp should get themself a real problem.. or get on a bike and do something decent with their oxygen consumption.. fuel prices are hitting em hard now and the anger is taken out on cyclists.. be careful out there.

  • Martin Jones

    What can we do (cyclists) to change the attitude of the minority drivers away from the aggressive attitude towards the normally law abiding cyclist?
    Maybe Its time for the cycling pressure groups to take to task the government, news papers, radio and TV stations to run short safety films during commercial brakes.

  • Pauline

    How amusing to read the comments section on MP Andrea Leadsoms home page. I wrote a polite comment about how out of touch she is with this Bill and guess what it does not feature. There is a disproportionate amount of positive comments in favour of her bill. Making it very clear that her staff are selectiove in what they publish. I should be all published or nothing! OUTRAGEOUS! A classic case of manipulating specific omments in support of her bill. Dishonest?

  • Jon Carver

    Just posted this on Andrea Leadsom’s blog. It is pending approval, doubtless like most others comments. Don’t worry a ten minute bill ( as she concedes herself) is extremely unlikely to become law, but she has made an ill conceived and poorly researched speech. This will have actually cost the taxpayer civil servants time to prepare and all that she has done is to paint the targets on all of our backs in luminous colour.

    I really think you needed to have thoroughly checked your facts before you made this ill conceived speech. I would refer you to Richard Garbutt’s editorial in the current edition of Cycling weekly.

    There isn’t a genuine cyclist in the world that would want Rhiannon to have been killed. Yes you are quite correct, there is dangerous and reckless cycling. Like you and like every rational cyclist, we deplore them. Yet had you stopped to consider the imbalances as highlighted by Garbutt, perhaps you may have thought twice.

    Despite what you may feel Cyclists are in danger from not simply accidents, nor even reckless driving, but deliberate and wilful endangerment.This is often the result of some petty grudge based on the belief that we ought not to ride a bicycle on the highway because we do not pay tax. The vehicle excise duty is a tax levied on vehicle use but is not for the maintenance of the highway.

    I am a serious senior racing cyclist who even within the last 2 weeks has suffered.
    1 two articulated lorries cutting directly infront of me causing me to have to fight to retain control in the backwash.

    2 A youth actually hanging out of a friend’s car attempting to grab my bike as they drove by braying like donkeys

    3 Foul language from an elderly lady passenger

    4 Whilst sitting well back on a grass verge replacing an inner tube ( ripped on broken glass from a bottle most likely dropped from a passing vehicle) A full can of beer was thrown at me from the occupant of a car. Fortunately I still had on my helmet or goodness knows what may have happened.

    No one would argue that there are some idiots on bicycles, but overwhelmingly had you undertaken more probing research you may have discovered that the balance leaves cyclists at a dangerously high level of risk.

    Jon Carver ( Bedford)

  • dave

    I have posted on Leadsom’s website and emailed her, plse do the same. Howvere more effect to email her if you live in her constituency!

  • Robert Holland

    There’s much more sense in some continental countries where the burden of guilt in motor versus bicycle incidents is assumed to be that of the motorist, unless proven otherwise. Give your views directly to the MP concerned at:

  • Roy Howard

    The bright spark behind this bill is Andrea Leadsom & you can read her explaination at even leave a comment for her!

  • Kim

    It would be far better if there was a law of strict liability on the roads, then everyone would know they responsibilities to others. My suggestion is laid out here (

  • Marcus Briginshaw

    This is supposed to be the greenest government ever, but they want to put up further barriers to encouraging cycling by frightening people off the roads with threats of punitive action.

  • Katja Leyendecker

    Fair and proportionate treatment is all we (cyclists) ask for. Why is that so difficult to understand by politicians?

  • Ian Franklin

    Should we not start up a movement on Facebook to gain a whole lot of support for better protection for cyclists. (and appropriate punishment for motorists who kill, injure and maim) I believe that this could then form a good basis to launch petitions for parliamentary debate.
    There are a whole lot of issues that I don’t see being taken up by CTC or BC.

  • Jon Sparks

    And today the Minister in charge of roads is parroting the myth that “motorists pay for our roads”.

    Lots of people are apparently unaware that Road tax was abolished in 1937 and that roads are paid for out of general taxation. But you would expect the Minister in charge of roads to be slightly better informed. If he can’t do better than this he shouldn’t be in his job.

  • Voice of reason

    Drivers do not pay a tax for using the roads. Roads are funded by council tax which you pay whether you drive or not. Motorways are funded nationally but not part of the debate.

    Robert, perhaps you should write to your mp and ask for confirmation that they will be opposing the bill, and encourage your readers to do the same.

  • Jazz Dude

    It’s because the MPs mostly get driven around in Mercedes and don’t use bikes. Most cyclists own a car also so they do pay road tax but use less of the road width. What they should be doing is jailing MPs who fiddle their expenses or are just guilty of incompetence.

  • Andrew Riches

    Again this is a typical response by an an ill conceived government probably based on the fact that vehicle drivers pay a tax for using the roads (so in effect a licence to kill) where us poor cyclists have to endure all sorts of wrongs with hardly a legal leg to stand on. Maybe this bill has come about because some highly overpaid chauffer driven nonentities do not like to be slowed up at traffic lights and junctions. We should start to lobby barmy Boris Johnson and see if he can shame these nonentities into showing the common sense that they are obviously lacking.