In the aftermath of the high-profile trial of Charlie Alliston for causing the death of Kim Briggs, there have been calls from various quarters to create new legislation around the use of pedal cycles.
This is all about an incident. One that I’ve read about before, but which last week was finally legally resolved. Now, I’m working from media reports rather than court notes so—caveat emptor—there’s a risk I’m dealing with inaccurate information, but… well, given the CPS’s keenness to pursue a charge of dangerous driving in the absence of serious injury, I’m going to infer that even if there are minor inaccuracies then this was nonetheless a case of truly appalling driving.
This week at the House of Lords the Road Danger Reduction Forum presented an award to West Midlands Police—in particular Pc Mark Hodson and Pc Stephen Hudson—for their Operation Close Pass initiative, which targets drivers who pass too close to people cycling when overtaking them. I was invited along to see them receive the well-deserved award and hear more about the details of the operation, as well as about how it has been adapted for use in Camden.
Many people reading this will be familiar with the trial that concerned the death of Daniel Squire, who was killed when he was hit from behind by van driven by Philip Sinden. In case you’re not, I’ll give you a brief recap.
You read that right. A day without a road death anywhere in Europe (which sees on average around 70 deaths per day) just somehow… happening.
A while ago I was asked to take a look at a video, recorded on a rear-facing camera, of a close pass by a lorry driver to see if I could estimate how close the lorry came to the bike and its rider. I’ve done this a couple of times before and I figured it might be worth writing up the process. Continue reading
It’s hardly uncommon for a phrase to transform into a policy statement purely by virtue of being glib, but perhaps nowhere is this more so than in the road safety industry. Indeed, “road safety” is itself such a phrase: it’s more snappy than “road danger reduction”, so once in use it acquires a great deal of inertia. But the difference between the two is significant, and is exemplified by everything that I’m about to discuss in relation to one specific phrase: “share the road”.
On 21 July 2016, John Toon was struck and killed while using a cycle crossing on the Strategic Road Network, which is managed by Highways England. The precise details of events remain unknown at this stage, but a mere glance at the crossing itself is enough to make it obvious that the design of the crossing is homicidally flawed. And it’s just one of many outrageously dangerous pieces of infrastructure under Highways England’s control.
If you juxtapose the phrases “Highway Code” and “cyclists” and then drop them into the media, the initial reaction from the more vocal parts of the general public is going to be somewhat predictable. I could write you out a bingo card and you’ll have called “house” by the time you’ve reached the end of the comments underneath the first article.
This isn’t the first time I’ve quoted David Allen Green’s article “Should We Ban Banning Things?”
“The legalistic prose in a solemn document is not some magic spell which banishes horrors by invocation. To say there should be a law against a thing is often no more than saying there should be a spell against it. In fact, “banning” things often creates new problems.”
This précis is rarely more applicable than to Motion 14 of this year’s CTC/Cycling UK annual general meeting. CTC council opposes the motion, and—as I’m sure you might already suspect—so do I, although for largely different reasons.
Late last year I accidentally ended up with a new cyclocross bike; something I’ve had before in a couple of different forms but have been missing for a while. It’s ideal for mixing bridleways with rural backroads, and when I use it for the ride to work it’s a good way of dodging several parts of my normal route where drivers pose particular risk.
But it’s interesting that I need a specific bike to do this.
I find Jeremy Vine’s cycling-related tweets sporadically rather interesting, for one simple reason: since his audience is in no small part derived from his radio talk show, they provide a way of dipping real-world cycling experiences into the world of the sort of person who listens to radio talk shows. (I suppose I could gain the same insight by listening, but—sorry, Jeremy—I can’t stand the show or any of its ilk.)
Earlier this month, Aslan Kayardi appeared at Isleworth Crown Court to defend a charge of dangerous driving. The prosecution was a little unusual in that it was brought privately: the Metropolitan Police had declined to prosecute; however, reportedly, the CPS refused the defendant’s request to effectively veto the case on the grounds of insufficient evidence or lack of public interest: the CPS quite clearly considered the prosecution valid and worthwhile.
“The idiots are self-regarding lycra renegades, oblivious to the paradox of their uniform retro-cool originality. They sculpt their facial hair to casual perfection. They wear their shorts tight round their balls. They babble into handheld dictaphones about that cool video of the bloke without facial hair going under a bus. Their cool friend made it. He’s an idiot, too. Welcome to the age of bigotry. Hail The Rise of The Idiots.”
It’s a rare day indeed that I see a video about “road safety” or road-related attitudes which imparts a good, balanced message that understands the facts that people are the same but vehicles, and the consequences of using and misusing different types of vehicles, are very different.
Today is not one of those days.
Let’s imagine this scenario.
A man does something that inconveniences some other people, but these people are not so inconvenienced as to ask the man if he could be more accommodating.
Not exactly headline news, is it?
At around 7:30am on New Year’s Day 2015, James Stephenson was killed on the A3 near Bramshott in Hampshire. One man was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving, but Hampshire Police took no further action. Naturally, I wondered why. I finally managed to track down a report of the inquest, published in the Haslemere Herald in May 2015, and—perhaps unsurprisingly—it doesn’t really resolve that question.