Should cyclists face the same legal consequences faced by motor vehicle operators?
That's the debate as described by this story picked up from a BBC website (thanks Gavin), going on in the U.K. right now.
According to the report, there have been 10 cases in Britain of pedestrians killed by cyclists between 2005 and 2009, but under current legislation, the most a cyclist can be charged with is careless driving, which is punishable by fines and a minor jail sentence.
U.K. lawmakers are debating opening the definition of dangerous driving, to include the operators of non-motorized vehicles.
That's about the same as here in Ontario. Dangerous driving, the charge usually levied against a motorist who kills, is a Criminal Code offence applicable only to those operating a motor vehicle. Jail time can range from five years to as much as 14 years. The most that a cyclist would face for the same event is careless driving, a Highway Traffic Act offence, which carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and a possible jail term of six months.
Once again, you could see this as a smokescreen for the real problem: deadly motorists. Check this website to see the ongoing costs of motor vehicle deaths in the U.K. Something in the order of 612 people have been killed on British roads since the beginning of this year. It is possible that one of them may have been killed by a cyclist. Who killed the rest? Squirrels, perhaps? Errant shopping carts?
I suspect the energy devoted to changing the law to nab two cyclists a year might be better turned toward the real villain here: deadly motorists.