Widower of pedestrian killed by cyclist vows to bring change in law

The widower of a woman knocked down and killed by a rider on a fixed-gear bike has vowed to bring about a change in the law to make it easier to prosecute cyclists who injure or kill pedestrians.

Thursday, 7th September 2017, 6:08 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:24 pm
Matthew Briggs, whose wife Kim was killed by cyclist Charlie Alliston

Matthew Briggs' wife Kim, 44, died after colliding with Charlie Alliston as she crossed a busy roundabout in London in February last year.

Alliston, 20, was riding a fixed-gear bike with no front brake, designed for a racing track, and was convicted of causing Mrs Briggs' death last month.

Dangerous driving laws only apply to mechanically propelled vehicles, meaning Alliston was prosecuted under a little-used 150-year-old law of causing bodily harm by "wanton or furious driving".

Kim Briggs, 44, who was killed as she crossed a road

This carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment, compared with 14 years for death by dangerous driving.

Alliston was cleared of a more serious charge of manslaughter.

Mr Briggs met with Transport minister Jesse Norman to discuss updating the law to make it easier to prosecute cyclists for riding dangerously.

Speaking to Press Association, Mr Briggs said: "I really, really don't want Kim to be seen just through the lens of this trial. She was just a fabulous person. If she was sat here now, she would have you laughing.

Kim Briggs, 44, who was killed as she crossed a road

"This is my mission - if you can bring something positive out of something so negative then I will have done my job.

"She was a pretty tough lady - she was a Glaswegian woman and she kept us all in check. I've got her persistence and her politeness and I will keep knocking on the door.

"The law is hopelessly outdated. There's an enormous gap in the law between this inadequate 1861 law and manslaughter. So what I'm calling for is that cycling be included in the dangerous driving act.

"My pure focus is on getting cycling incorporated into the death by dangerous or death by careless driving laws.

"It means that where there is illegal wrongdoing, there is a law that can deal with it. So in my wife's case, there was no law that could adequately deal with it, because this will happen again.

"This will inevitably happen again because more and more people are cycling and that's great. I'm not anti-cycling and I will keep saying that because I cycle myself, but it's just about making sure that where there is illegal wrongdoing, there's a law that can deal with it and there's a clear and understood framework."

Mr Briggs said he was optimistic about bringing about a change in the law, saying that he had support from politicians across the political spectrum and cycling advocacy groups.

"I've had such a huge amount of support from politicians, from cyclists, from so many people," he said. "I'll continue to reach out to cyclists because when I explain what I am trying to do and how focused I am on the single argument of getting the law changed, everyone agrees that the law doesn't work.

"I'm just here to be persistent and be polite and say 'there's a gap in the law, let's get it changed'."

He said he felt that Mr Norman was taking the issue seriously, saying "he's a man I can do business with".

Following Alliston's conviction, the Department for Transport said that "protecting pedestrians and all road-users is a top priority".

It went on: "There already are strict laws that apply for cyclists and police have the power to prosecute if these are broken.

"The Transport Secretary is looking at the implications of the case, including whether dangerous driving should apply to cyclists who pose a danger to other road-users.

"This will take into account the specific issue of types of bikes that lack the necessary safety equipment such as front brakes."

Between 2005 and 2015, some 32 pedestrians died and 820 suffered serious injuries after colliding with cyclists, according to a report by charity Cycling UK.

Separate DfT figures show that 351 pedestrians were killed after being hit by motorised vehicles in 2015 alone.