Road Safety

Thank you for contacting me about road safety.

Every road user has a responsibility to behave safely and with consideration for others as set out in the Highway Code. A cycle safety review is examining ways in which responsible cycling can be better encouraged, alongside other measures to ensure motorists are reliable road users. The Government is clear that whether addressing cyclists or motorists, policymakers need to keep in mind that cyclists are among our most vulnerable road users and that cycling is a mode of transport to be encouraged.

The Highway Code clearly sets out rules for cyclists on equipment, clothing and the use of lanes and crossings. There are currently a range of offences available to deal with cyclists who cause harm to pedestrians or other road users. Sections 28-30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 include dangerous or careless cycling and cycling while under the influence of drink or drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of £2,500. At the most serious end of the scale, manslaughter or wanton and furious driving can be charged.

Every pedal cycle must have efficient brakes and the Pedal Cycle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 stipulate that every pedal cycle on the highway should have two braking systems.

While the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, the Department for Transport (DfT) is always looking at ways to make them safer and that is why the Department for Transport are consulting on the recommendations produced by the cycle safety review. This includes a proposal to introduce new offences of causing death or serious injury while cycling and other changes to some existing cycling offences, further work on guidance on cycling and walking infrastructure and improvements to the Highway Code.

As you may be aware, the Government has already carried out a consultation on driving offences and penalties relating to causing death and serious injury. The Government responded by confirming proposals to increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving and for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life. It also created a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. These proposals are still under review by the Ministry of Justice.

It is important that all road users are responsible, including motorists. The Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, recently put forward measures to combat close passing, improve collision investigation and provide £100 million in new investment through the Safer Roads Fund. The DfT also has plans for a £500,000 pilot scheme offering driving instructors training to put cyclists' safety at the forefront of their minds when teaching new drivers.

More broadly, the DfT is working hard to double cycling activity by 2025 and each year reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured on English roads. That is why the DfT published its first statutory Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy last year. It sets out a number of actions, alongside £1.2 billion of funding that may be invested in cycling and walking in England over the period to 2021. A major programme of technical support to help 44 local authorities in England to develop their Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans has also begun. Furthermore, £7 million of government funding has been made available for new schemes aimed at improving road safety and creating more bike-friendly areas. There have been seven successful Cycle Ambition City bids for this funding.

You can read the Minister's reply to the recent debate, here: