On 21st September 2017, the government launched an “urgent review into cycle safety” following the tragic death of a pedestrian who had been ridden into by a cyclist riding a track bike with no front brake.
The first sentence of the review says “following a series of high profile incidents” and the Transport Minister Jesse Norman is quoted as saying “given recent cases, it is only right..”.
There has only been one recent high profile case.
The review will be in two phases. Phase one will “analyse the case for creating a new offence equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving to help protect both cyclists and pedestrians.” It is unclear how bringing in new laws against them will “protect cyclists”!
The second phase will “be a wider consultation on road safety issues relating to cycling […] and will consider different ways in which safety can be further improved between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.”
Laura Laker response in The Guardian – “Minister’s call for cyclists to behave is more headline-grabbing hypocrisy”
Norman’s response to that article (also in The Guardian): We want to make our roads safer for everyone – especially cyclists
Of course Norman’s response ignores Laker’s central point, which is that the DfT continues to ignore the demands to carry out the promised review of 2014 of all road sentencing, but one cyclist case that generates tabloid headlines is enough to trigger an urgent review. Why is this hypocrisy?… because Norman himself urged us to avoid rushes to judgement when celebrating Edmund Burke in an FT OpEd.
It seems a given that a new cycling law will be brought in, even though the cyclist in the track bike case didn’t actually receive the maximum sentence for the “wanton and furious cycling” offence he was guilty of.
Where the real battle begins is “phase two”. Given that Norman wrote to all cycling organisations asking them to tell how cyclists how to behave, it is clear that he doesn’t treat them equally with motorists, however much of a “keen cyclist” he may be. Can you imagine a transport minister writing to the AA, RAC, Road Haulage Association etc, every time a car-related death occurred (which is about 5 times a day)?
So what might Norman have in mind.. well here are at least five times , a transport minister has been pressed in Parliament to introduce a mandatory cycle helmet (and the first link shows the pressure has been there for decades). Let’s hope they don’t propose both helmets and hi-viz and then water it down to just one of those (in the spirit of “compromise”). Such clear victim-blaming and piling on of the out-group will discourage cycling further, making it all the more dangerous for those left, despite the obvious pro-health and anti-pollution benefits that MORE cycling would bring.