Martin Jones, Deputy Director of Sentencing, Neighbourhood Justice and Transparency at the Ministry of Justice has agreed to look at the laws concerning bad driving after today’s evidence session at the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ parliamentary inquiry.

He made the comment after experts on road safety and cycling told a panel of peers and MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group that the UK needs tougher penalties and stronger policing of dangerous drivers if we are to get more people cycling.

The inquiry heard that perceived risk was stopping more people from cycling. There was also a call for greater focus on cycling awareness in driving tests and cycle training in schools.

Representatives from the AA, the Freight Transport Association, Cycle Training UK, British Cycling, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, the Metropolitan Police, Ministry of Justice, charities RoadPeace and CTC, and a cycling barrister gave evidence.

APPCG Chair, Julian Huppert MP, said: “Today’s hearing focused on all aspects of road safety but the most compelling argument presented to the inquiry was the fact that the justice system isn’t protecting cyclists when things go wrong. I’ve seen people get knocked off their bikes and in most instances, it just isn’t taken seriously enough.”

Referring to a recent case where a taxi driver received a £35 fine for killing a cyclist, Chris Peck of the CTC called for more long driving licence suspensions.

He added: “In many cases involving death there is no prosecution because there is a lack of evidence. These cases come up time and time again.”

He said since ‘careless driving’ was introduced fewer more serious ‘dangerous driving’ offences were handed out.

Martin Porter QC, author of the Cycling Silk blog, said police were “spineless” when dealing with drivers.

He added: “There isn’t the will to take any action, and in any other area of injury where there was a near miss which could have caused potential harm it is taken seriously so it doesn’t happen again.”

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “There are issues of perception of danger, and I think that is linked to education of drivers and cyclists.

“If you don’t get people on a bike before they are 17, their attitudes will be set. They won’t have experienced life on the road as a cyclist,” he added.

David Dansky, Head of Training and Development at Cycle Training UK, said match funding from councils would ensure more children got Bikeability training, while driver education would reduce conflict when cyclists ride assertively.

This morning’s meeting followed an announcement today by Transport Minister Norman Baker promising £62 million for cycling in England.

Related links

What is ‘Get Britain Cycling’?

Cycling experts present evidence to Parliament

The Times campaign: one year on

How Britain has failed cycling

Comment: Cycling takes centre stage at Westminster


  • Eric Smith

    People who post about bad cycling are forgeting one thing. Cyclists are not driving a 2 ton vehicle a.k.a. weapon. When a cyclist talks on a cell phone while riding he does not put anyones life in danger but his own. When a motorist does he is basically not paying attention while steering a 2 ton weapon down the road which will kill any pedesdrian it hits.

  • Aeiouarse

    Never mind cyclists being treated as though their lives have no value by some drivers, I’m going to have a little rant about shooting lights and riding on pavements, so I can justify my own aggressive driving by tarring them all with the same brush. Make them run in front of their own bikes with a red flag, that’s what I say!

  • Glyn

    I have a full car and full motorbike license. Unfortunately, due to escalating costs I now have to cycle to work. Considering the fact that to obtain a full driving license you now have to do things like theory tests you would expect the license to be harder to obtain and consequently driving standards would be far better. This could not be further from the truth. On numerous occasions i have been scared witless by drivers FAR too close (if I put my hand out I could have touched the vehicle), overtaking on the inside using clearly marked cycle lanes, cars parked in cycle lanes, you name it, they will do it. As it is I will happily pay a fine for riding on the pavement rather than risk my life on todays roads. Bad driving should be an immediate and complete ban and loss of license. Only when the law gets THAT tough will the lesson sink in.

  • Terry

    Bad drivers of all vehicles along with poorly trained cyclists are the cause of deaths. When I passed my Cycling Proficiency Test in 1958 my instructor gave me 2 golden rules for survival-
    1. Never ride up the inside of slow or stationery traffic
    2. Never cover or block your ears so you can hear traffic
    Both of these still hold good today.

    Let’s do something about the nearly 1million foreign drivers over here who have never had to pass the UK driving test,.
    Let’s also have compulsory periodic sight tests for ALL road users.
    Whilst there are 450,000 LGV and HGV vehicles, there 33 million cars (1 of which killed the tandemists in Bristol).
    ALL road users have a responsibility for theirs and others safety.

  • Mr P.R.N ewman

    Why in this country dont we have the same laws as in many European countrys i.e that if you are driving a motor and you hit a cyclist then it is automaticaly deemed to be your fault, i cycle in Germany quite often and the drivers there are more careful and courtious than in E ngland

  • Ieuan

    How about any kind of penalty for poor cyclists?

    A large minority seem to be happy to cycle with no lights and dark clothing at night, run red lights and zebra crossings with impunity, cut in front of traffic, carry shopping bags and use mobiles instead of keeping two hands on the handlebars. That is before we even get to the issue of what they do on pavements.

    Make them register and pay insurance just like other road users then clamp down on poor road users regardless of them being on a bike or in a car.

  • Seamus Leahy

    They should also make “joined up transport” a priority, if I wish (for example) to get myself, wife and our two recumbent trikes to York it is all but impossible using public transport, maybe bring back the guards van on trains and a trailer (as on European Bike Bus or smaller). All this is sadly lacking.

  • Terry

    I’d be interested in your statistical proof. All bad drivers and poorly trained cyclists are the causes of death.

  • Terry

    I’d be interested in your statistical proof. All bad drivers and poorly trained cyclists are the causes of death.

  • Ken Evans

    HGVs are a major cause of death to cyclists, the ways to reduce their risks are well known. More actions, fewer words !