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Cycling: New law on dangerous cycling looks doomed to failure

A controversial piece of new legislation aimed at outlawing dangerous cycling looks set for the scrap heap after failing to secure the government backing needed to get it onto the statute book. However, the law's proposer, Andrea Leadsom, is vowing to fight on despite the setback.

Mrs Leadsom is the Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire. Last year she proposed a new law aimed at introducing a specific offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.

The new law was felt to be necessary as the current offence of dangerous cycling carries a maximum penalty of £2,500 with no possibility of prison, even in the most serious cases.

Mrs Leadsom argued that if a cyclist were to recklessly plough into a pedestrian on a pavement, causing their death, this penalty would be insufficient.

The law looked set to receive government support after the road safety minister Mike Penning promised to consider the law on its merits. Opponents argued that the new law would unfairly impose additional obligations on cyclists for an event which is in fact exceptionally rare.

The law was proposed after the tragic death of 17-year-old Rhiannon Bennett. Ms Bennett was struck by a cyclist in Buckingham in April 2007.

The inquest heard that the cyclist was travelling at speed and hit Ms Bennett whilst some of her body was still on the pavement. Ms Bennett was thrown to the ground. She died from head injuries six days after the event.

Critics concede that the tragic nature of the event should lead to some review of the law; however, they argue that this law goes too far, and that it is solely a reaction to this one tragic event. The new law was due for a second reading in the house last Friday, but it failed to make it to the chamber.

Mrs Leadsom issued a statement in response to the events of Friday.

"Despite the bill not receiving its second reading on Friday, I will not let this rest. I will continue to campaign for justice for Rhiannon and to update the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act to ensure dangerous cycling can be dealt with in the same way as dangerous motoring. I will continue to keep pressure on the minister who I know takes a keen interest."

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Guardian)

Highway Code rules for cyclists (FindLaw)

Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)