As you know, in August 2018 the Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation which examines the possibility of creating a new offence equivalent to causing death by careless or dangerous driving for cyclists. The DfT has said the consultation seeks views on the scope and penalties for new and existing offences and aims to achieve parity of sentencing.
In your letter, you call for the remit of this review to be broadened to consider how the law deals with and defines irresponsible and dangerous behaviour by all road users. The DfT consultation on cycling offences is expected to run until 5 November 2018 and I would recommend that you respond to the consultation and submit your views on this topic directly to the DfT. I can assure you that I share your concerns and I will continue to follow developments on this.
Any changes to road traffic offences and penalties resulting from this consultation would apply to Scotland. The DfT has also said it is conducting further work to understand the context of the law in relation to Scotland and that it plans to publish this information soon. I will also monitor developments on this closely.
I appreciate that this is an important issue and I am aware that in 2016, a total of 550 pedestrians and cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads. I share your concern about road safety and believe there are significant gaps in the national walking and cycling network. The protection of civil law is one way in which cyclists and pedestrians can become empowered and can feel that it is safe to take up active travel.
In 2017, the Scottish Government published its Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2020, in which it committed to encourage and support the implementation of 20 mph streets/zones in communities across Scotland to improve road safety and encourage walking and cycling for everyday journeys. The Scottish Government has also doubled the active travel budget to take further steps to support walking and cycling. I welcome this commitment; however Scotland is still a long way off the target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020.
More generally, at the 2017 general election I stood on a manifesto that committed to a plan for active travel that would encourage and enable people to get out of their cars, onto bikes and public transport, for better health and a cleaner environment.
Thank you again for contacting me. I can assure you that I will continue to support efforts to improve road safety in our area and across the UK.