Call for tougher cycling laws after Charlie Alliston given 18 months for killing pedestrian

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Sep 19, 2017
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Charlie Alliston was convicted of causing bodily harm by ‘wanton and furious driving’

John Stillwell/PA

The 18-month custodial sentence handed to a cyclist who knocked over and killed a woman will help to dispel the “myth” that cyclists are “never held accountable” for their actions, a charity has claimed.

Charlie Alliston, a former bike courier, received the longest sentence that has yet been to a cyclist convicted of accidentally killing a pedestrian. Alliston, who was 18 at the time of the incident, crashed into Kim Briggs, 44, as she crossed a road in central London in February last year. He will begin his sentence in a young offender institution. 

Campaigners described calls for increased penalties for cycling offences as misguided, insisting that a complete review of the justice system for all road users was required.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK's head of advocacy and campaigns, said: “The judge sending Charlie Alliston to prison for 18 months casts some light on the myth pedalled in recent weeks: that cyclists can’t be and are never held accountable for irresponsible behaviour which endangers others.

“As Cycling UK has repeatedly made clear, Alliston’s decision to ride a fixed-wheel bicycle without front brakes on busy roads was illegal, stupid, and had tragic consequences for Kim Briggs’ family.”

Theresa May has confirmed that the government is considering updating legislation for cyclists. 

Paul Loughlin, a solicitor at the London and Manchester law firm Stephensons, pointed out that the charges of death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving were not available to the courts when sentencing individuals who had caused the death of a pedestrian while using a bicycle.

“This means the courts cannot hand down longer custodial sentences and cannot ‘disqualify’ a cyclist from using a bike on the roads for any period of time,” he said.

He added: “If a motorist were to take a vehicle that was either not roadworthy or not permitted for use on UK roads, much as Mr Alliston did with his ‘fixed-gear’ track bike, this would be considered an ‘aggravating factor’ and would warrant a tougher sentence.

“Under such circumstances, I would expect a court to only consider a ‘death by dangerous driving’ charge against that driver and a custodial sentence of up to 14 years.”

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