Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Will cycling get squeezed from party manifestos in the rush to the general election?

Joseph Delves
6 May 2017

With MPs judging the justice system to be failing cyclists, is reform moving closer or further away?

The recently concluded inquiry into Cycling and the Justice System has released its findings. After submissions from individuals with experience of bringing both criminal and civil prosecutions regarding collisions involving cyclists, along with campaign groups and legal experts, the MPs are of the opinion that the current system is seriously failing cyclists.

The report's summary makes the plain statement that this happens because the current justice system 'both allows dangerous and inconsiderate driving to go unchecked, and lets down the victims of road crashes.'

In response the cross party group of MPs put forward 14 key recommendations covering reform of both the legal and governmental responses to collisions involving cyclists.

These are purely recommendations, though, without any inherent route to becoming part of law or government practice.

In order to see it put into effect in government policy, a positive first step would be getting the different political parties to adopt the group's recommendations as part of their manifestos for the upcoming general election.

However, with all major parties scrambling to put together policies in time for the snap election scheduled for 8th June, that seems unlikely.

In the run up to the last election most of the main parties dedicated at best a few sentences to provision for cyclists in their manifestos.

By comparison this time around charity Cycling UK would like to see all the report's findings adopted by the big political parties, and the next Government.

Having given evidence to the original inquiry Duncan Dollimore, their Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigns officer commented: ‘Last year, national headlines lamented the tragic case of cyclist Lee Martin, whose death was in part a consequence of the justice system putting one person's right to drive above the safety of other road users.

'Rightly this cross party group of MPs and Peers has identified the problems that affect us all, whether we’re driving, cycling or walking, and made sensible recommendations to make our roads safer.’

When Cyclist spoke to Dollimore recently he was optimistic about the possibility of getting the parties to adopt at least some of the proposals.

‘That the recommendations have come directly from a group of MPs is very positive,' he said.

'The support of cross party MPs is crucial to help create and maintain pressure upon government ministers, as they can repeatedly raise questions in parliament and draw attention to the issues we are campaigning on.’

Compared to their constituents and pressure groups, MPs also have a much more direct route to parliamentary motions as they may directly propose bills in parliament or lobby for government ministries to do so.

With the election happening at such short notice he thought it unlikely that any of the parties would commit to detailed strategies.

Even so, he believes pressure from constituents on their MPs could still help ensure their views are represented in the next parliament.

Yet, generating support for cycling may still face an uphill struggle.

Today the government finally released its delayed draft air pollution plan after being compelled to do so by a legal challenge, and some commentators have noted that it barely makes reference to provisions for cyclists.

Read more about: