A cross-party group of MPs and Peers is to conduct a comprehensive inquiry to investigate if the justice done on behalf of injured and killed cyclists is fit for purpose.
The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) will carry out a select-committee-style inquiry to explore road traffic incidents involving a “close pass” or a collision and is calling for evidence this month from cycling organisations and members of the public.
This will lead to a report to be published in March with recommendations for a change in road traffic law, the Highway Code, better enforcement, and a debate in Parliament before the summer.
The APPCG wants to gain cross-party and cross-organisational support for the inquiry’s recommendations with renewed parliamentary and governmental attention on cycling and cycle safety.
This would feed into the Government’s reviews of road traffic offences and penalties and of the claims process for soft tissue injuries.
Jean Dollimore of Camden Cyclists said she welcomed the inquiry.
“I would encourage everyone who has been injured as the result of a collision to consider giving evidence,” she says.
“From my experience of some recent injuries and on the roads in Camden, the victims really have had to fight to get appropriate compensation.
“In the cases where cyclists were killed, sometimes charges against the driver were dropped or the cyclist was blamed or when there was a penalty it hardly seemed proportionate. This seems to send out the message that driving inconsiderately or in a way that puts others at risk is tolerated.”
Colin Wing of Westminster Cycling Campaign said that conditions for cyclists have improved in central London but welcomed initiatives to deter bad driving and give more people the confidence to cycle.
“In my experience motorists in central London have become more considerate towards cyclists in recent years and close passing is now less common. But there is still a minority of drivers who can pass cyclists too closely. This kind of behaviour can also discourage cycling, and campaigns that draw drivers’ attention to it could be helpful.”
The inquiry follows in the wake of the West Midlands Police force “close pass” initiative and which was trialled in Camden during 2016. West Midlands Police Traffic Unit were commended for their work by the Road Danger Reduction Forum with an award presented in the House of Lords, and London Assembly member Sian Berry has called for all London boroughs to adopt the scheme.
It is this “close pass” initiative that has attracted considerable support from cycling organisations because it addresses an all too-common behaviour trait by many motorists.
“That behaviour which is intimidatory and deters potential cyclists from cycling,” says Dr Robert Davis of the Road Danger Reduction Forum.
This is a view shared by barrister Martin Porter QC who is concerned that the Government’s review of sentencing for bad driving is focussing too much on retribution rather than deterrence.
“Real deterrence involves increasing the chance of being caught and punished for the poor driving behaviour that is far too widespread before, often as an outcome of pure chance, it causes devastation.
“The Government should find time and resources for real support of the initiatives of the police in the West Midlands and in Camden which focus on poor and intimidatory driving in the vicinity of the most vulnerable,” says Porter.
The APPCG will conduct four evidence sessions in January and February. A raft of reforms will be explored including introducing a presumed liability civil compensation system, creating a national standard on collision investigation, and more collaboration between government departments on collision and conviction data.
The inquiry is funded by the Cyclists Defence Fund, and legal firms Leigh Day, and Slater and Gordon.
To submit evidence to the inquiry, visit the Cycling and the Justice System page on the APPCG website. The deadline is 16 January 2017.