Thursday 21 September 2017

Review of Dangerous Cycling Law?

And in itself I really haven't got a problem with asking the question - do we need to review the law with regard to cycling and the risk posed to others? I mean, in principle, who could possibly object to that? Its just asking the question, right?

And in a purely rational world, none of us would object. But that isn't the world we're in, and the rather scathing response to this on sums up much of the cynicism you'll see from cyclists. Yeah, we're cynical that years into a supposed review on ridiculously lenient sentences for criminal motorists who have, in that time, killed thousands, we're instead shifting government focus onto cyclists who kill fewer than die in trouser donning accidents.

I don't wish to belittle the importance of any individual tragedy - which is why my instinct is to point out the many, many trivial sentences passed down to motorists who were indisuptably in the wrong. My issue is not that we don't have harsh enough punishments available to deter dangerous behaviour on the roads - the possibility of prosecution for death by 'wanton and furious' or death by 'dangerous', or even manslaughter, is very serious indeed. My problems are two-fold - that we're not prosecuting for death by 'dangerous driving' or 'manslaughter', and that when we do, we're giving absurdly lenient punishments that, in context, make the Alliston sentence look positively draconian.

The result of this is simple enough - go on, click through the links there. One driver there had 140 previous convictions. Another killed a child who was on the pavement - he didn't 'lose control', he drove onto a pavement with a child on it, and killed her. Both walked free from court. These are not isolated incidents or rare times courts were strangely lenient, this is the norm. 

Two fifths of killers on our roads aren't jailed. The average sentence is four years. 111 people convicted of death by dangerous driving between 2006 and 2015 walked free from court. The police and our courts are not acting as a deterrent - cases of dangerous driving were up 26% in 2016. The result of this is that motorists are killing, frequently, and brutally. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced a review of sentences back in 2014 but this has seemingly become vapourware - it hasn't happened, it isn't happening, and despite thousands of deaths resulting from bad driving we're caving in to ill-conceived demands to target cyclists. Even on the pavement you are 150 times more likely to be killed by a driver than a cyclist

No one wants dangerous cyclists. They can kill (but, because they're lighter and slower than motorists, that is thankfully extremely rare). But our police and courts actively condone dangerous motoring by refusing to prosecute even when evidence is clear. This guy wasn't prosecuted. None of these folk were. By not dealing with hazardous and illegal acts we allow that to become entrenched behaviour - and the result is that people die. I don't fear this review because I want dangerous cyclists protected. Far from it - I fear this review because its not coming from a rational appraisal of what causes most harm on the roads. This doesn't smell of seeking justice - it smells like collective blame.

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