Like many cyclists I’ve been knocked off my bike a couple of times by poor drivers, but fortunately I’ve never been hurt seriously. Yesterday we saw that the UK justice system does not protect cyclists.
Last year, Sam Harding was killed as he cycled his bike in Holloway. He was riding in Holloway Road when Kenan Aydodgu opened his car door. Sam fell into the road and was crushed to death by the bus that was behind him.
Mr Aydogdu, says the BBC “had the windows of his car coated with a dark plastic film which reduced visibility in and out of the car to 17%”. I understand that it is not legal to apply this sort of window tinting to your car. But, Aydodgu was found ‘not guilty of manslaughter‘ – I just can’t get my head around this – he broke the law, but was not responsible then when he killed someone.
Also in the news was the Mary Bowers case, she was a journalist at The Times. Mary was knocked from her bike by a HGV in Wapping last year. She has since been in a coma. The Times have since led a campaign to improve safety for cyclists. But yesterday, the lorry driver, who has previously admitted a series of tachograph offences, including driving a lorry for 20 hours in one day when the maximum is 9 hours” was “engrossed” on his hands-free mobile phone at the time of the collision.
“The court had been told that Ms Bowers placed herself alongside another cyclist in an advanced cyclists’ box in front of the lorry as they waited at traffic lights in Dock Street.
Beiu was giving directions on a hands-free phone to a colleague and failed to spot Ms Bowers despite her being “in direct sight” through his windscreen for at least 10 seconds before pulling away and turning left across her path.
He jumped from his cab after hearing “bloodcurdling” screams but forgot to apply the handbrake allowing the lorry to continue rolling over Ms Bowers. He even failed to realise there was a cycle lane on his near side, the court was told. Beiu also lied to the police by claiming he had not been on the phone at the time of the collision.”
A jury decided to convict the lorry driver of “careless” driving. As Ross Lydall points out on twitter: “Jury never saw pictures of Mary Bowers or heard her family’s victim statement. Case centred on lorry driver not Mary’s appalling injuries“.
As British Cycling points out, many people feel there has been a downgrading of charges around careless and dangerous driving. It has called for a review of the law. This is why: The concept of causing death by “careless driving” was introduced in 2008. In 2008, only six people were charged with causing death by ‘careless driving’ and 715 of causing death by ‘dangerous driving’. The numbers of people being charged with ‘causing death by careless driving’ have since risen dramatically, despite the numbers of people killed on the road decreasing, and the numbers of people charged with ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ have dropped in that time as well. As British Cycling points out, this suggests there is confusion over the appropriate charges and ‘causing death by careless driving’ is being used far more than was originally intended.