Nanny State Cycling

by Jamie Glover

There have been renewed calls for cycling safety legislation after cyclist offences almost doubled in a decade.

The debate was largely sparked earlier this year after the death of Kim Briggs. The 44 year old lost her life after Charlie Allison slammed into her at a speed of 18mph. Mr Allison was driving a bike adapted to have no front breaks.

He escaped a charge of manslaughter but was jailed for 18 months for wanton and furious driving.

Earlier this year widowed Mathew Briggs called for a radical change in cycling culture. He also championed introducing new safety laws including – causing death by dangerous cycling.

One of the more outlandish ideas being discussed is the enforced insurance of road cyclists. UWS spoke to long-term cyclist Lauren Waggitt about the idea: “The beauty of a bike is it’s freedom. Why cash in on that? It actually makes me sad.”

Cycling remains one of the most ‘eco friendly’ forms of travel and one of the only ways children can travel long distances by themselves. Imposing this on people is sure to hamper childhood independence, and initiatives aimed at tackling childhood obesity and carbon emissions.

“[It] seems like another way to make money off something which is free. In all honesty I just wouldn’t pay it. I would treat it like the tv license – unnecessary, invasive, a financial burden and I would view it as optional even if they made in mandatory,” continued Waggitt.

The public outcry for the death of Kim Briggs lead to a government review on road cycling safety, which will be released next year.

The review is also looking at the possibility of making hi-vis and helmets mandatory for cyclists. Transport minister Jesse Norman tweeted the issue was:“Sure to be raised in the consultation” and will be considered “based on evidence.”

However there is an argument that this would undermine recent drives to boost cycling in Scotland. Glasgow City Council have committed to investing six million pounds to improving cycling infrastructure across the city.

This drive to boost cycling will be greatly affected by this proposal said Sam Jones of Cycling UK:“Enforcing helmet laws in other countries reduce the number of people cycling, and as would be expected the number of injuries drop similarly” (Independent 2017)

However cycling safety incidents are on the rise for both riders and pedestrians. A reported 100 pedestrians a year are injured by cyclists, and in 2016 there were 102 deaths of cyclists.

Opinion remains divided as reflected by Owen McDermott who last year started a petition on the matter. He launched the petition to call for mandatory insurance of cyclists on UK roads. He received 38,434 signatures of his 50,000 target.

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