Cyclists' behaviour and the law
- In collisions involving cyclists in Great Britain, the police are around twice as likely to assign no ‘contributory factor(s)’ to them than to the driver/rider of the other vehicle;
- In 2014 (GB), in collisions involving a cycle where the police assigned a contributory factor to a road user, they decided that just over 1% (176) of the cyclists ‘Disobeyed automatic traffic signal’, and around 2% (296) were ‘Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility’;
- With around 23 million people aged 5+ owning a bicycle in England, a licensing and compulsory training system for cyclists/cycles would be complex and very costly – not much less so than the current system for licensed drivers (almost 32 million) and private cars (over 24 million);
- Mile for mile in urban areas from 2010-14 (GB), motor vehicles were more likely than a cycle to seriously injure a pedestrian, and about twice as likely to kill them;
- The pavement or verge is not where most pedestrians are hit by a cycle: over the last five years in Britain, three out of the 19 incidents in which a pedestrian was killed in collision with a cycle happened on the pavement or verge;
- In London (1998-2007), just 4% of reported pedestrian injuries due to red-light-jumping involved cyclists - the other 96% were hit by red-light-jumping motor vehicles. Even on the city’s pavements, just 2% of reported pedestrian collisions involved cyclists, the other 98% involved motor vehicles.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy):
- Cyclists, like all road users, should behave responsibly and within the law.
- The enforcement of road traffic rules, and penalties for breaching them, should be proportionate to the potential danger imposed on other people, especially vulnerable road users. This principle also applies to off-road rights of way.
- Road traffic rules should not put cyclists in situations where they feel they must choose between acting legally and protecting their own safety. Those responsible for making and enforcing the rules must take into account the reasons behind cyclists’ offending behaviour.
- CTC does not condone unlawful cycling on pavements (footway). However, the police should exercise discretion in the use of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for pavement cycling and discriminate between those whose behaviour is dangerous and antisocial and those who are acting out of concern for their own safety without presenting any threat to others.
- The police and others charged with applying the law should be able to send offending cyclists on training programmes as an alternative to prosecution or fixed penalty notices (FPNs).
- Highway authorities should tackle any hazardous road conditions or poor design that may explain illegal behaviour by cyclists in certain locations.
- A system of compulsory licensing and cycle training is unworkable and unjustifiable, not least because children have the same legal rights to cycle as adults and expecting them to hold licences is impractical. While the running costs would be high (i.e. similar to schemes that apply to motor vehicles and drivers), the benefits would be negligible, and the bureaucracy involved likely to seriously deter newcomers and occasional cyclists.
- CTC does not actively support Critical Mass, but recognises the motivation of those involved.
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Publication Date:October 2015