A police chief has admitted that she would be too frightened to commute by bike in London because “there are too many risks”.
Suzette Davenport, head of roads policing for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, spoke out during an investigation into cycle safety by the daughter of a cyclist killed in Regent Street.
Ms Davenport, the chief constable of Gloucestershire police, said she had cycled in London but told the BBC: “If you said to me, would I feel safe as a commuter in London, then , no, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do that.
“It’s too busy, there are too many risks. Every day there are a range of people who don’t go home at the end of the day.”
The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in London fell 11 per cent last year to 432 but the total number of all cycling injuries rose to 5,146 – the 10th successive year-on-year increase and the highest since 1989, according to Transport for London.
BBC journalist Anna Tatton-Brown’s father Michael Mason was one of 12 cyclists killed in road collisions in London last year. As part of her investigation for the Victoria Live programme, former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer said the Crown Prosecution Service not the police should have the final say in deciding whether to bring a prosecution.
Sir Keir said: “I think there is a very strong case for saying if there is a death involved – if it’s serious enough to have a criminal investigation – it ought to go over to the CPS for a final decision.”
He said that there may be a need to “start looking at the balance” of liability in civil cases, though he ruled out “strict liability”, where the driver is automatically considered at fault.
He said: “If a cyclist is knocked off by a driver of a car or some other vehicle, there are the beginnings of a presumption it’s the vehicle that is in the wrong.”