An open letter to Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse and Avon & Somerset Police Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens:
Dear Sue and Wera,
I am writing to you as I think in the coming weeks and months there is going to be a concerted effort to start legislating against dangerous cycling behaviour. To put this in perspective, last year 1 pedestrian was killed by a cyclist and 399 were killed by drivers.
I am not trying to excuse what Charlie Alliston did and this article I think sums up my thoughts around his court case:
However there is a need to re-address the way we deal with the bad road users. A significant number of whom get away with manslaughter due to failures in process as well as failures within the law:
I would like, as stated within the above article, the following to come into place:
- The current guidance regarding referral of fatal road collision cases to CPS for charging decisions needs to become a requirement, a rule which police forces can’t simply ignore as they did in this case;
- Collision investigation standards are urgently needed, with accreditation and increased transparency as called for by RoadPeace through their collision investigation campaign.
- The current classification of careless and dangerous driving offences, how driving standards are assessed, and charging standards, are simply not fit for purpose. They must be changed, with the standard of driving required being more objectively determined. Currently, the law requires jurors to consider whether another driver’s standard of driving fell “below”, or “far below” the standard which they believe would be expected of “a careful and competent driver”, whatever that standard might be. One person might well think they’re a careful and competent driver as they overtake a cyclist whilst speeding, leaving a 30 cm gap. I would disagree, so our perspectives on what falls “below the competent and careful driver” test will be irreconcilable. We are asking jurors to apply a standard that few understand, and which is far too subjective.
There have been similar calls from Road Justice and Brake. The recommendations from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group also reflect similar demands:
We have a problem on our roads and the way cases involving Killed or Seriously Injured are dealt with by the police and the law. We are failing the victims of road violence, particularly the vulnerable road users.
This is being played by certain groups as a problem between pedestrians and cyclists when fundamentally, both these vulnerable road user groups are disproportionately affected by the bad behaviour of drivers.
New York City has found that the provision of segregated cycle lanes has reduced the number of pedestrian casualties:
Using cycle infrastructure to protect vulnerable pedestrians is enabling cities and even countries to achieve a Vision Zero approach to road safety:
We need to ensure that the conversation is not about the problem of dangerous cyclists and their impact on pedestrians, but that there are bad road users and how we fix the legislation and operational procedures of our police to ensure justice is done.
I hope you can convey that message in the coming weeks and months, and support working towards a better approach to road justice.
Cycle Bath Chair