A cyclist was jailed for seven months yesterday at Dorchester Crown Court for the offence of “wanton furious riding causing bodily harm”, an obscure piece of legislation dating back to the 19th Century. They were also banned from driving for twelve months.
Rather than stop at a red light, the cyclist had mounted the pavement, hurtled round a blind corner “like a bat out of hell” and struck and elderly man who fell into the road and sustained head injuries from which he subsequently died.
The sentence is a step in the right direction but it is incredible that there is no legislation available to the judiciary for the specific offence of causing death by dangerous cycling. The CPS was forced to fall back on the obscure 19th Century Offences against the Person act of 1861.
Needless to say cyclist organisation CTC wasted no time in saying that this proved that the law did not need to be changed before bleating on about how many more cyclists are killed by motorists than pedestrians by cyclists. Unless the CTC spokesperson believes that two wrongs somehow make a right, I fail to see the relevance of their last remark. I also suspect that fatalities among cyclists would be significantly reduced if they realised that red lights do actually apply to them as well as motorists.
It is patently obvious that the law does need to be changed as the problem with cyclists on the pavement, certainly in London, is endemic. Walk down Holloway Road in North London and within a few minutes I guarantee you will see a cyclist on the pavement. A couple of weeks ago a cyclist travelling on the pavement at least 20mph missed me by about two inches, nearly hit a woman pushing a pram and then, without making the slightest attempt to check his speed, veered around several pedestrians before disappearing down a side street. This is hardly an unusual occurrence. Barely a month goes by without my being involved in a near-miss with one of these lunatics. I have lost track of the number of verbal altercations I have had with them - even mild remonstrations are invariably met with a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse.
Certainly in London cyclists seem to regard themselves as above the law. Unfortunately there is so much buy-in to the "two wheels good four wheels bad" nonsense that there is no will to make the streets safe from cyclists.
There is a clear need for tough legislation to deal with the problem with specific offences of dangerous cycling and causing death by dangerous cycling, with cycling on the pavement being classed as dangerous cycling. Dangerous cycling should carry an automatic minimum driving ban of twelve months and causing death by dangerous cycling an automatic jail sentence.
© Christopher Seddon 2009