Motorists could be made legally responsible for any accident involving a cyclist even if they are not to blame.
Government advisers want to change civil law to make the most powerful vehicle involved in an accident automatically liable for insurance and compensation purposes.
Advisers claim the move is to encourage environmentally friendly types of transport, but is likely to be seen by many drivers as yet another attack on motorists.
What the advisers want
Philip Darnton, the chief executive of Cycling England which is bank-rolled by the Department for Transport has called for four key policy changes to be included in the Government's forthcoming National Cycling Plan and Active Transport Strategy report. These are:
• The legal onus placed on motorists when there are accidents with cyclists
• Speed limits reduced to 20mph on suburban roads
• Cycling should be taught to all children
• Provision for cyclists in all major planning applications
Battle for the streets
The move is seen as the latest instalment in what many regard as a battle between motorists and cyclists for control of the streets.
The Government is spending 1 million on cycle routes in 18 'pilot' towns across the UK, but many councils have experienced anti-cycling demonstrations as roads and parking spaces are given over to cyclists.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said it was wrong and simplistic to pigeonhole cyclists and motorists as opposing groups. 'Many cyclists are motorists, and many motorists are cyclists,' he said.
'Simple changes in the law that assume one party is in the wrong because of what they drive will not help harmony on the roads.'