Road Safety News

Justice system ‘failing to protect cyclists’

Tuesday 2nd May 2017

A cross-party group of MPs is calling on the Government to do more to protect the safety of cyclists, particularly when it comes to removing dangerous drivers from the road.

In a new report published today (2 May), the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) says the justice system is currently failing to protect cyclists by allowing dangerous driving to go unchecked, and by letting down the victims of road crashes.

The APPCG says hundreds of thousands of crimes - committed by a ‘small minority of road users’ - are going unrecorded by the police each year, resulting in a feeling of ‘lawlessness and aggression’ that is deterring many people from cycling.

The report points to statistics which show that the number of driving bans handed out has fallen by 62% over the last 10 years, which exceeds the drop in serious motoring offences recorded over the same period.

The report - which has been welcomed by, among others, the charity Cycling UK - sets out 14 recommendations focusing on ‘preventing harm and danger in the first place’ and ‘ensuring justice where injury has resulted’.

These recommendations include revising the Highway Code to provide stronger legal grounding for a hierarchy of road users, with vulnerable road users prioritised ahead of drivers, and changing the driving test to improve driver behaviour towards cyclists.

Focussing on enforcement, the report says roads policing should be given a higher priority and that the police must ensure that a higher standard of investigation is maintained in all cases where serious injury has resulted.

In addition, the report says all police forces should ensure that evidence of common offences submitted by cyclists, or other witnesses, using bike or person mounted cameras or smartphones is put to use, and not ignored.

Expressing concern over the decline in the number of driving bans and the ‘very large numbers’ of drivers who are escaping disqualification upon reaching 12 points, the report says the Ministry of Justice should examine the reasons behind the decline, in particular the effect of the ‘exceptional hardship’ scheme.

The report also says the West Midlands Police ‘Be Safe, Give Space’ campaign has widespread support among the cycling community, and should be rolled out nationwide.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety and legal campaigns officer, said: “This cross-party group of MPs and peers has identified the problems that affect us all – whether we’re driving, cycling or walking – and made sensible recommendations to make our roads safer. 

“Cycling UK welcomes the report's recommendations and believes it should set the road safety agenda for the next Government. We hope politicians of all parties will be able to support them, and work together to prevent avoidable and dangerous incidents on our roads.”

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Regarding the stats before and after compulsory legislation for motorcycle helmets. In 1973 it was considered and put forward to ministers that KSIs would be reduced by an estimated figure of some 300 to 400.p.a.

A trial period of 12 months before and after was studied in detail to ascertain what benefit there actually was. Those stats showed that although accident rates remained more or less the same, the death and serious injury toll was in fact reduced but only by 40 persons. However it had to be also taken into account that motorcycle usage per mile had increased by some 12 %. This was sufficient to prove that the legislation worked.

It was also accepted that prior to the legislation requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets some 88% of them already did so and so the impact of the legislation was really only relevant and confined to the remaining minor 12% of the motorcycling population at that time.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

Jill Knudson would do well to review the affect that the compulsory wearing of crash helmets for motorcyclists had on the accident and injury figures for same. For a start, the vast majority of riders wore crash helmets for comfort against the elements prior to the compulsory law. Secondly, and probably most significant, the data available before and after implementation of said law shows no difference in the accident or injury rate. It can be further argued, that encompassing the head and face with a desensitising shell of padding and plastic, removes the ability to hear, and in some cases to see adequately thereby aiding the chances of an incident.

It has also been stated, and on these web pages, that the wearing by cyclists of cycle helmets, has increased a degree of aggressive driving by other road users towards cyclists.

The wearing of protective equipment, and in the case of vehicle operators - so called safety features such as seat belt; air bags; side impact protection systems, etc. creates an increased 'bravado' in the rider or driver in that if something happens, they are protected. This flies in the face of true road safety which is to be aware of dangers, plan and compensate for them, making road safety an internal thought process instead of a gadget driven one of risk compensation - the greater the risk, the more careful one becomes. The more protected - the more aggressively one rides or drives.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

With regards to the safety of cyclists, my 20 year old student daughter regularly cycles and commented only yesterday that she wishes it would be made a legal requirement that all cyclists wear safety helmets. I have thought this for many years. If it were a legal requirement, it would become acceptable to all just like Moto cycle helmets did.
Jill Knudson. East Yorkshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (12)

David. Many thousands of bikers apply for training with the various Advanced organisations. As an example in 2015 some 6137 riders enrolled in training with the IAM and that ended up with 5513 trained rider. Add to that all the other training organisations and then consider that against the numbers of others like those in the group that you know of and one will understand that it's less than 1% of all motorcyclists. In fact it's probably more like one tenth of 1% or one in one thousand. Unbelievably its so little to be considered of any consequence and yet they still delight in as you say annoying other road users just because they can and to the detriment of other more law abiding riders.

By the way loud pipes dont save lives, that's a misnomer. They just make the rider deaf so then they can't hear danger when its apparently approaching. Horns save lives.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

Bob, if you think that present day bikers do not exactly deserve their reputation I suggest that you spend some time on social media pages. My local bikers group has a collective attitude to speeding and thrill seeking that can only be described as horrendous. They cheerfully embrace exhausts without baffles as 'Loud pipes save lives', despite the annoyance and image problems created by this anti-social nonsense. I am afraid that my conclusion is that their reputation is thoroughly well-warranted, and I ride bikes.
David, Suffolk

Agree (9) | Disagree (7)

I don't think we should lump motorcyclists in with cyclists in the vulnerable road user group.

Cyclists are vulnerable because they share the c/way with motorised vehicles and, their speed is inevitably slower than those around them and they sometimes wobble leading to dangerously close passes - a motorcyclist can outrun four-wheeled vehicles. Motorcyclists are no more protected by a metal cage than cyclists, but their speeds make death and injury far more likely. Some elements in both groups don't help themselves by their behaviour on the road and dare I say it, some put themselves in danger - but then, so do some peds and drivers.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (3)

I forgot to mention that the boy racers I spoke of earlier are nowadays the over 35's and back to biking brigade.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

Bob, I must agree with those comments. The current spate of increasing crime against motorcyclists in London and other areas, motorcycle theft up I believe 600%, theft of bikes in broad daylight in front of the public, the increasing incidence of violent hijackings of motorcyclists in daylight and the unfortunate inability of the police to pursue these criminals as they may be injured in a pursuit. If cyclists suffered a similar increase in crime something would be done.

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Unfortunately motorcyclists will be regarded by many as the author of their own demise. Bad image. This is a throw back to film images portrayed in the 1950's and 60's with rockers and American movies and directors portraying motorcyclists as young anarchists. The growth of the Hells Angels didn't help and in the 70's the development of the road racing replica pocket rocket and the mayhem that they the boy racers have caused and still do today.

We are considered unpredictable, frightening and race around without any concerns for law, speed or common sense. It's no wonder we are not considered at all in any way shape or form, due to the minority who have spoilt it for the majority of us.

We, motorcyclists suffer from a terribly poor image and one that we do not in the main deserve but we will never the less be stuck with it forever I am afraid.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (9) | Disagree (1)

Removing dangerous drivers from the road ...fine.. I'm sure we'd all support that, but for the benefit of all road users surely, not just for one specified group? No doubt a lobby representing pedestrians could equally call for action against dangerous cyclists.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (20) | Disagree (6)

Agreed Keith. I look forward to the introduction of an All Party Parliamentary Motorcycling Group and the reports it may produce.
Pat, Wales

Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

Again a commendable approach. However, why is there no mention of the greater vulnerability of the motorcyclist. There is mention of driving, cycling or walking no mention of riding.

The report suggests "These recommendations include revising the Highway Code to provide stronger legal grounding for a hierarchy of road users".

Then surely motorcyclists will be at the top.

Agree (15) | Disagree (6)