Letter from the Department of Transport to me

I received a letter from my MP today, who had passed on a letter to the Department of Transport’s, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Paul Clark, in response to my question about strengthening the law for the benefit of cyclists (after me mentioning a few ‘barmy’ punishments that motorists got away with).

Clark’s letter was dated 30 October 2008:

Here is an excerpt:

There are a range of offences available to the police and Crown Prosecution Service to deal with offences motorists commit against cyclists on the road and it is for those agencies to determine the charges all those who cause road traffic accidents should face. Much will depend on the circumstances of each case and the evidence available to support the prosecution. I cannot comment on the case Ms X refers to. I am passing a copy of the correspondence to the Ministry of Justice asking them to respond to the wider points your constituent makes about the consistency of sentencing.

In this country, the bicycle is treated as a road vehicle and many general traffic laws apply to bicycles as well as motor vehicles. We do not therefore always have specific laws applying to bicycles where the law applies to all road vehicles. Advice to cyclists on the rules applying to them is set out in the Highway Code. Rules 59 to 82 deal with cyclists”

Now, it’s interesting the law appears to regard a bicycle just as an ‘ordinary road vehicle’. In comparison to an 18 ton lorry going at 60mph, it’s hardly just an ordinary ‘road vehicle’, it is a ‘vulnerable’ road vehicle, ridden by a ‘unprotected person’, perhaps a child as opposed to a trained person. Frequently, now with vehicles made safer and stronger, the driver is often more safer than a cyclist, ever will be, therefore, ‘recognition’ that some ‘road vehicles’ are more vulnerable than others needs to be noted in the legal system.

I will wait for the Ministry of Justice to contact me, but in the meantime, I will consider discussing this with a MEP, perhaps a cycling friendly one, as I believe other European countries, like France, have better laws but I want to find out more info on this. Does Britain have the ‘worst laws’ for cyclists and why? I don’t know much about this as often magazines don’t discuss such issues!

Furthermore, bicycles have been around for donkeys years before cars and it’s only 60 years or so, when motor cars have become ‘more powerful’, with more around too. Things have changed radically. Drivers may be safe, but you only have to see the statistics, that motorists, over the last few years, have caused considerable harm to cyclists, that don’t have any protection, compared the early part of the last century.

Without tougher penalties, cyclists could become extinct, as they won’t want to use the roads, if they’re like the M25.


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