The Charlie Alliston case: the real story

Over the last week there has been front page coverage of the case of one Charlie Alliston, who hit pedestrian Kim Briggs in central London in a collision resulting in her death. . Naturally it is unlawful and wrong to cycle with one rather than two effective braking systems, and we will accept the verdict of the court when it comes later today. But for me the real story here is not what happened on a central London street in February 2016.


The Karol Michta case

The week before the front page coverage I was reading page 11 of a local paper, the Ealing Gazette (July 21st 2017), to see “Driver spared jail despite killing man while speeding”. Here we learn:

A student who hit a pedestrian so hard with his sports car that the man was thrown 150 feet has been spared jail after the court was told he was suffering “survivor’s guilt”.

In this case:
• Student Karol Michta had pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving while travelling at 61 mph within a 40 mph speed limit.
• His sentencing was adjourned for five months so that he could complete his degree.
• A psychiatrist had diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and moderate depression, described by his solicitor as “survivor’s guilt”.
• Michta had swerved into the middle lane from the fast lane , recorded travelling at 61 mph, trying to keep up with another car, with one witness saying at the time: “look how fast he’s driving: idiot”.
• The judge stated that Michta did not see Henrik Luszcz until just before the point of impact: if he had been travelling within the speed limit he would have been able to brake and take evasive action earlier.
Judge Anthony Morris gave Michta a suspended prison sentence (along with 250 hours unpaid work and a “20-day rehabilitation activity” and a fine)because of his age, his psychiatric problems (brought on by him having killed Luszcz) and “the circumstances of the accident”.

You may wish to consider whether “accident” in this case is an appropriate term. What the judge meant by this phrase was apparently that he thought the road layout was not ideal. “Mr Luscz cannot be criticised for doing so, but this was not a safe place to cross such a major road and some sort of steps ought to be taken to at least move the bus stop nearer the lights”.

I would make the following points about this case:
1. It receives coverage in a local newspaper as opposed to the front page national coverage in the Alliston case.
2. The charge relating to car driven at 61 mph in a 40 mph limit, as opposed to a bicycle at about 18 mph, is “causing death by dangerous driving” as opposed to manslaughter.
3. The behaviour involved – speeding – is commonplace, with about 40 – 50% of drivers breaking the 30 mph limit when conditions allow, and a majority admitting breaking the limit. Press coverage in the tabloids tends to be critical of measures to control speeds, particularly speed cameras, whereas cyclists – as a group with anybody who ever cycles included – will be subject to criticism.
4. The killer driver was excused custody because of:
(a) His age – although his age is that of a high risk driver group, namely the under 25s.
(b) His mental state, which was brought on by him having been responsible for the incident in the first place. You may wish to note the phrase “survivor’s guilt” used by his barrister. Historically this has been used for the survivors of disasters and wars. Here it is used to refer to someone traumatised by having killed someone through his violent behaviour .
(c) The road layout and the victim’s behaviour is highlighted. Although the judge states that “Mr Luszcz cannot be criticised”, in effect that is what happens – or at least the perpetrator has his responsibility further reduced.
5. The key issue for us is reducing danger on the roads, which means reducing the instances of driver behaviour such as that described in the case, essentially feeling the need to keep up with another speeding driver. Nothing is said about the other speeding driver in this case. Indeed, speeding behaviour can be seen on the roads as a matter of course. As pointed out above, it is illegal behaviour which has become largely – although not by all of us – socially acceptable. It could be controlled by cameras and/or on-board speed governors. It could be prevented, but it is not.

This is not a particularly unusual case. Above all, apart from what many of us would think was lenience towards the driver; we have the issue of lack of media concern compared to the Alliston case.

Let’s look briefly at two other recent court cases where the lesser charge of causing death through careless driving (never mind manslaughter) was brought.

 

Two other pedestrian deaths

Farnham, Surrey .
In this case the driver said that he only saw a person’s head above a line of parked cars (along Lower Weybourne Lane) but that it had never occurred to him that the individual would step out into the road in front of his vehicle.

Norwich In this case the driver commented “In the city people cross in front of you all the time. And 99 times out of 100 if they don’t have enough time they will stop.”

I find the stated views of the drivers (both driving for a living) interesting. In the first “it had never occurred” to the driver that someone on the pavement would want to cross the road. In the second case the minority of pedestrians (calculated at 1 in a 100) that don’t stop presumably deserve to be hit.

In both cases the drivers were found not guilty. So even with a much lesser charge, and potential penalties, than manslaughter, there are still issues about getting a guilty verdict.
These are two recent cases taken at random from the local press where they have received a small amount of coverage. They are not scientifically gathered, but do illustrate the relative lack of public concern with pedestrian deaths normally compared to the Alliston case.

One could go further. For example, last week I heard the case of a pedestrian death at inquest where my colleague assessed legal fault as likely to be with the driver of a motor vehicle – however the police had decided not to pass the papers on to the Crown Prosecution Service and bring the case to trial. Many cases do not involve a trial, even for the lowest charges, despite evidence to suggest at least an element of driver guilt.

With regard to the Metropolitan Police Service, we had the high profile case of the death of Michael Mason, where the MPS failed to pass papers on to the Crown prosecution Service despite the judge in the ensuing private prosecution saying that there was a case to be answered. Again, compare with the Alliston case.

Let’s get more scientific by looking at the overarching issue: what other road users are involved in collisions where pedestrians die?

 

How do pedestrians die?

Here I am indebted to Bez of Beyond the Kerb  for his analysis of the last eleven years for which we have figures. From 2005 to 2015 5525 pedestrians died on Britain’s roads in “road traffic collisions”. In these cases, where the sole other vehicle involved was a bicycle, 31 died:  0.561% of the total. These are the figures as officially collected. For example, if the pedestrian dies after one month, as is often the case, the death counts as “Serious Injury” instead. I have no reason to assume that cases where cyclists are involved are more or less likely to fall into this category. The figures on deaths are about the most reliable of all road traffic collision casualty figures, so I’ll go with them.

Now, it may be argued that in cases where bicyclists are involved, the cyclist is more likely to be legally responsible than the driver of a motor vehicle. The best way we can assess this is to look at in-depth analysis of court cases and verdicts. However these seem to have a great degree of variation in how verdicts are reached and certainly with severity of sentencing. We can look at Contributory Factors (CFs) listed by police attending the scene, which imply a degree of fault. In the cases of pedestrian deaths over the time period studies, we have 25/45 CFs (55%) being pedestrian fault. This analysis, although open to criticism, does not indicate that cyclists are more likely than drivers to be responsible for collisions where they are involved in hitting pedestrian who dies.

 

So – why…?

This has been a weird time for professionals working in the area of road safety. We find ourselves concerned with a daily toll of people killed on the roads with court cases receiving minor coverage in the press, particularly with pedestrians killed in typical road crashes. Of course, this is highly variable, with some of the more extreme cases – such as those with multiple deaths and extreme bad driving – gaining coverage. And some local papers such as the London Evening Standard have been covering road crashes more often.

But the dominant fact is that when drivers kill pedestrians in “normal” circumstances, we are presented with little coverage. We also see charges far lower than manslaughter (or none at all); we see acquittal often on spurious grounds; and we see low penalties when conviction is secured. But when a CYCLIST is involved…

And that for us is the real story behind the Alliston case. When we finally get public concern and outrage from the media it is for something which – whatever its specific circumstances and severity – is above all NOT what is involved in 99.4% of cases where pedestrians die in road crashes.

 

…and does it matter?

I think this matters a great deal. Some colleagues have simply argued that it would be good if we could get this kind of coverage for more typical crashes. As our colleagues in West Midlands Police tweeted:

 If only every road death had this much media coverage….our roads might be safer as a result.

I think there is a deep and important issue here. One commenter on social media has suggested that this is simply a “man bites dog” story: it is just a case of something so unusual that it merits unusual attention.

I don’t think it is. I think it is a case of a persistent and profound refusal of this society to take road danger seriously, and specifically to exonerate and accept danger from motor vehicles and those responsible for how they are used. While this road danger can and does involve engineers of highways and motor vehicles, and a transport industry and politicians responsible for how we get about in the first place, it necessarily involves – at least largely – the responsibilities of motor vehicle drivers.

So for the road danger reduction movement the media coverage of this case is a matter of deep interest and concern.

In the first instance there is all the negative stereotyping of cyclists beloved by all too many commentators. Focusing on one errant cyclist is a key to tarring all cyclists with a brush of danger. In a context where it can be easy for a typical, let alone a particularly bad, driver to endanger a cyclist, I think that such negative ideas have an all too destructive potential. (On this point you can read the chapter on cyclist hatred in Peter Walker’s book .)

More importantly, this is a manifestation of a culture where motor danger is simply not seen as the problem we in the road danger reduction movement think it is. We’ll comment further when the verdict is given. But for now the indicators from this episode for road danger reduction, and the prospects for a civilised society which takes road danger seriously, are not good.

POSTSCRIPT Tuesday 22nd August.

While waiting for the verdict in the Alliston case, I picked this up from the excellent Martin Porter QC:   In a nearby court in the Old Bailey, with minimal press coverage, we read this story 

We have, again, the death of a completely innocent pedestrian killed by someone in charge of a motor vehicle going well in excess of the speed limit. The charge is not manslaughter, or even causing death through dangerous driving, but death through careless driving. The defendant was spared jail.

81 thoughts on “The Charlie Alliston case: the real story

  1. Malin Dixon

    One of the sites at work has banned cycling, supposedly for safety. To get to the bike shed, cyclists are supposed to walk through the car park. Motorists and motorcyclists are, of course, still allowed to drive as normal.
    It is another symptom of the same mindset.

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      Interesting Malin. Might be worth getting on to CyclingUK or your local cycle campaign group about this.

      Reply
      1. rdrf Post author

        I presume you’re referring to the efforts made by Cycling UK and others to have the Government’s promise to review penalties for road traffic offences carried out as soon as possible after numerous delays. If you think that is “a pedantic cause” I have contempt for you.

      2. Dr K Havisham

        Er, the comment was about a private car parking site, was it not? It seems that you might have expressed contempt without having bothered to read the post.

    2. paulc

      ” Motorists and motorcyclists are, of course, still allowed to drive as normal.”

      and no doubt they then become pedestrians when they get out of their cars to walk to the entrance…

      madness…

      Reply
      1. Robert Shriner

        Makes a lot of sense. Motorists cannot get out and push, whereas cyclists can get off and push. Motor vehicles make a noise which alerts people to their presence in a car park, whereas cyclists make no noise, unless they break wind, which quite a few do when facing common sense provisions like this.

        The health and safety officer has probably observed cyclists riding recklessly within the site, which reflects their behaviour at large.

      2. Jonathan Private

        Those who don’t know if the comment is being sarcastic or not tend to exemplify the common sense deficit and selective deafness which is prevalent among those who perambulate with their backsides high in the air.

      3. Simon

        I’ve no idea if Private Jonathan is being sarcastic or not. I’m guessing Robert Shriner was being sarcastic.

  2. toby josham

    Last Wednesday I was cycling home following the same route I’ve ridden for the last 11 years. There’s one particular street near the centre where pedestrians just walk out into the road without looking. As I’m approaching the left turn into this street there are 2 WPC’s about to step out into the road. They are so busy chatting that neither looked round and I had to brake as hard as I could to stop in time.
    People walk out into the road, even the police walk out into the road without looking and the only reason there wasn’t serious injury on this occasion is I was turning left at a junction and not moving fast. If this had happened further down the street I would have been traveling a lot faster and wouldn’t have been able to stop in time.

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      In RDRF we tend to have different views on this.
      We do all point out that the person with greater kinetic energy potentially dispersable on impact should have the main responsibility. You should cycle in a way which will take account of how pedestrians, particularly the very young and old, may behave.
      However, it may be worth pointing out – if we are going to spend time on the details – that there are issues about how pedestrians can be inconsiderate and endanger those on two wheels. But the main issue will always be the use of motor vehicles because of their greater mass and velocity, which is what the post was about.

      Reply
      1. toby josham

        Always try to but if someone steps off the pavement without looking 3 feet in front of you, who’s fault is it?

        But back on point, the fact that drivers don’t get lengthy prison sentences for killing people through bad or dangerous driving makes me seriously angry. The Courts increase the maximum sentence but does someone have the figure for what the average sentence given actually is?

        I get that they had to introduce the alternative charge of death by dangerous driving as juries wouldn’t convict for manslaughter (probably as they were putting themselves in the shoes of the motorist rather than the victim) but what’s the point of a 14 year max if convictions are only getting suspended sentences?

      2. rdrf Post author

        I’m personally not so worried about the absence of LONG prison sentences. I am worried about the cases (written up in the post) where there is no custodial sentence at all.
        I think we have to focus on letting people (of all road user types) be aware that something unpleasant may happen to them – such as a driving ban – if they endanger others. And despite what some other commenters have said, although that means all of us, it’s basically going to be the motorised that we have to be concerned about.

      1. toby josham

        I did, that’s why I didn’t hit anyone….not because of other people paying attention to what they were doing, but because I was paying attention

      1. RamberKabir

        Correct. But how many drivers do this? Almost none. Unfortunately most pedestrians don’t know they have priority over motor vehicles when crossing a side road junction; they just behave subservient to people in cars and the car drivers bully them into submission, because we all know who would come off worse in a collision.

    2. ferka

      My personal approach is that whenever there are pedestrians looking a bit dodgy at the side of the road, I either move into traffic, or slow down. I believe it’s part of our responsibility to try and predict the future and make adjustments (it’s what our brains are hardwired to do anyway).

      Reply
  3. Andrew Bonwick

    The overall points that you make are good ones (in particular re. media interest/ coverage), but not all the examples you cite are on point:

    – In the Michta case, the driver was charged and convicted with causing death by dangerous driving. The issue is the ‘light’ sentence, not the charge – which can carry a higher sentence than manslaughter.

    – There may be (probably is) an issue with charging people with death by careless vs. death by dangerous driving. I expect ‘careless’ is easier to prove, and also more jury friendly as many jury members will be able to empathise with drivers as they drive themselves. However, it is not relevant to this case. The charge of manslaughter was made (rightly or wrongly) in this case as there is are no equivalent offences for cyclists. Not sure that you would want to encourage the Law Commission to look at equivalent offences, as it would give undue prominence to an issue which (you correctly point out) is de minimis (i.e. cyclists killing pedestrians).

    – There definitely is an issue with drivers not being charged at all.

    – There is also definitely an issue with media reporting… not least because public perception is likely to fee into the perception of juries… and thus the conviction rate… and thus the decision of the CPS to prosecute or not.

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      Andrew,
      1. I agree issue is light sentence. Personally I am not in favour of manslaughter being brought for offences resulting in road traffic collisions, apart from very exceptional cases.
      2. I am also OK with most cases being for “careless” if there is more chance of conviction. You are right about the issue re-cyclists: in principle there should be some sort of equivalent offence, although I’m not sure what the cycling equivalent of being banned from driving would be. In principle again, there should be a look at cyclist offences, but as you say it does relate to very unusual incidents. We DO think, with CyclingUK and others, that it is time to review road traffic law in order to clear up the existing mess.
      3 and 4. Glad you agree

      Reply
  4. atk0309

    Maybe i am dumb … probably you folks will convince me i am. But what has ALL of that has to do with the Charlie Alliston case ?

    What i see is a murderer, that is completely unapologetic, blamed his victim for her own death because he was driving with reckless speed with no adequate breaking system, that will go free in 2 years time and some fine.
    What does how many people drivers, singers, pole dancers, etc. have killed has to do with that case ?
    In the end of the day someone has to go to her 2 kids and tell them that their mommy’s life was worth 2 years jail for her murderer. I don’t think they will care if some driver killed someone else somewhere else. They will care how THEIR mom’s killer got away with murder basically.
    Also what does it matter that this is ” de minimis (i.e. cyclists killing pedestrians).” ? Honestly what does all of your arguments matter ?
    In the end of the day facts are:
    1. He took a life, due to his own carelessness and he doesn’t show a single bit of remorse and blamed his victim.
    2. He will AT WORST go to jail for 2 years ( if i have understood the bbc news report correctly)

    Its all very fun to make rhetoric and talk statistics and come up with great arguments but I wish the author would go and explain all of this to the family and explain to them why the 2 year jail sentence is absolutely reasonable for their mother/wife’s murderer. Maybe if the author has to do that he will accept that it actually is a REAL Story… or maybe not.

    No idea why i am even here… used be able to ignore stuff like this… but now having a very young child … just thinking of some self entitled asshat killing her mother cause he feels like a superman makes me loose my cool.

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      atk0309,
      You didn’t read the article. The RDRF and our supporters are passionately concerned about danger on the road and the safety of all road users. We try desperately to get the danger posed to others, and the deaths and injuries it can produce, recognised as a serious social problem.

      When 99.4% of pedestrian deaths NOT involving cyclists get barely mentioned in the press, lower charges than manslaughter, significant chances of acquittal, and then lenient sentences, we are angry and upset. If the exceptional , almost off the scale minority involving cyclists gets: attention, a severe charge, a (partial) guilty verdict and possibly a more severe penalty than those in the vast majority, then we need to ask – Why?

      Our view is that society is unwilling to take the danger to pedestrians and others seriously. Some of us simply wish that these other cases could be taken as seriously. Some of us think that they are not PRECISELY BECAUSE attention is drawn to the minuscule proportion that are not motorists.

      That’s what we think the real story is. That should be clear. If it isn’t, take a look at the case in the Old Bailey that ends the post above. No prison sentence for someone in charge of a motor vehicle going at over 40 mph in a 30 mph zone, driving at least carelessly and killing – nothing in the press.

      (By the way, if you read the report and my post above, he was NOT travelling at “reckless speed” – it was under 20 mph. Most motorists break this speed as a matter of course with no response by the law). there is an issue of an apparent lack of remorse, but I suggest that is a lot less important than the acts involved, whether by Alliston or the vast majority of people who kill on the road.

      Reply
      1. david

        quite happy to exploit this case for your own purposes but not once have you expressed any sympathy for the briggs family. how cynical.
        whenever a cyclist is killed up goes the cry don’t blame the victim. strangely it does not seem to apply in this case.
        fact is 99% of cyclists dont give a fig about the safety of pedestrians too concerned with their own self importance.

      2. rdrf Post author

        david:
        You are quite wrong.
        1. “Our own purposes” are the safety of all road users, particularly pedestrians. If you had bothered to read the post you would see our outrage at lenient results of prosecutions involving people who had killed pedestrians.
        2. At no stage was the pedestrian here blamed at all.
        3. I have spent many years giving sympathy to the loved one’s of people killed (as all types of road user). For anyone too lazy to read the post they want to comment on, I am obviously in sympathy to all the loved ones and friends of the deceased, as I am in all cases like this.
        4. Stupid generalisations like “99%” are not helpful.
        5. Cars are inanimate objects, unlike the drivers charged with their use. In terms of any objective measure their use is NOT as bad as abuse of the rules and law by cyclists. It is a simple matter of physics that motorised road users pose more of a threat – we wanted to draw attention to that without in any way exonerating cyclists in general or the person who killed in this case.
        Despite your bigoted generalisations and refusal to read a post you comment on, I have tried to be polite in response.
        Sometimes I don’t know why I bother.

      3. Foogirl

        “Passionate” about road safety, and yet want to berate anyone who is raising the safety of cyclists as a problem. Are there lots of different road users who need to be more safe? Of course there are and that IS dealt with. Is there a problem with careless or dangerous cyclists? Yes, and it needs to be addressed. I don’t know which newspapers you read, but there are countless stories in the media about people in cars who kill people on roads. This case made the national news because it was unusual. Plain and simple. If cyclists want to pretend there is some kind of media agenda with it then I’d suggest you remember, just because they are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are out to get you.

        If you are passionate about road safety, surely you would agree better training, equipment, visibility for cyclists is a brilliant thing to push for? This case is an excellent catalyst, a good opportunity to remind cyclists that there are things they can do to be safer. Making sure these are in place doesn’t mean we are blaming cyclists for everything, it means as a part of a series of road safety measures, we want to ensure cyclists are safe too. You wearing a high vis vest is more for your safety than mine. You being well trained is more for your safety than mine.

        In no other area do we see this massive outcry whenever there is a suggestion that a single group could do something better. We introduced more stringent training and testing for new car drivers, for LGV and PCV drivers, for motorcyclists and there was no suggestion they were being persecuted. Whenever we suggest cyclists could do with training, immediately it reverts to “cars are bad, pedestrians are bad, roads are bad”. In this particular case, the amount of victim shaming is shocking. As someone else has pointed out, the Highway Code is clear, pedestrians have right of way on the road. As a driver, I understand that, and accept it, and keep my wits about me in town. Sometimes there are foolish pedestrians, but I’ve managed 25 years as a driver without hittiing one. There is not a massive problem with “dangerous” pedestrians. The person “not paying attention” may be autistic, or deaf, or having a really really bad day – and even if they are just not paying attention, the punishment of that surely shouldn’t be death? And just like when a cyclist pops off a pavement and I’m not properly paying attention, if I hit them I will be held accountable for that. And if my vehicle is unroadworthy or illegal, the penalty is higher. Those are the rules and as a road user I agree to them everything I get in my car.

        Working as a team for the safety of all should be the goal. That means looking at our own behaviour before we have a go at everyone else.

      4. rdrf Post author

        I disagree that it made the news simply because it was unusual. It was not a “man bites dog” or silly season issue. It happened because there is a general relucatnce to address danger at source, and this runs throughout our culture.

        As explained in another reply, we are passionate about safety on the roads, which is not the same as “road safety”. You can see this in numerous posts on http://www.rdrf.org.uk On hi-viz, see numerous posts under “Conspicuity”.

        As also mentioned, RDRF Committee members have been pioneers in National Standards (now “Bikeability”) cycle training.

        “Stringent testing”. there was no suggestion that this “stringent testing” (which we don’t think is stringent) was regarded as persecution because it was about enabling and empowering the members of this group. if it had genuinely stopped bad behaviour it wouldn’t have been introduced.

        We should look at our own behaviour as it endnagers others. Which means spending most of our time looking at our driving and motorcycling.

        Oh yes, I almost forgot: “. Are there lots of different road users who need to be more safe? Of course there are and that IS dealt with.No it isn’t. It really isn’t. NO.

      5. Mark Williams

        Foogirl’s attempted revisionism ‘no suggestion [motorists] were being persecuted’ does not bear much scrutiny, either. History books such as Roads Were Not Built For Cars are replete with evidence to the contrary. Every single intervention seeking to temper the carnage wrought by motoring was met with preemptive counter-campaigning including actual horrific victim-blaming, howls of outrage when they were debated, cries of unfairness when they were introduced, years of relentless lobbying to get them reversed and constant undermining ever since. Mainly by politicians, the judiciary, aristocrats, top brass in highway authorities & police forces, newspaper/ magazine barons (most of each group were motorists) and even the hoi polloi (most of whom weren’t motorists, but enjoyed aping their betters). True of compulsory third-party motoring insurance, true of MOT motor vehicle inspections, true of VED levying, true of decidedly-non-‘stringent’ motoring tests, etc.

        Death On The Streets describes ruefully how successful the propaganda has been since the 1930s and into modern times in reversing the perceived burden of responsibility. Still very much ongoing, as seen from the anonymous (and fake name) trolls in here. Foogirl is less subtle than most, with her ever-ready suggestions that the onus is on ‘other’ road users to ameliorate the danger imposed on them by bringing ‘equipment’ (presumably some armoured, mechanically propelled, weaponry?), ‘high-viz’ (assuming those providing the danger can be bothered to look), ‘knowledge’ of the Highway Code (pretty low bar if they’ve only got to know it as badly as most motorists) and the faux concern for their well-being. But my favourite has to be the ‘training’ trope. Barely a week passes without some have-a-go-motorist trying to bully me off the road—‘more for my “safety” than theirs’, no doubt—it’s almost as if they don’t realise how much training I’ve had 😲!

    2. Gary

      How would your argument stack up if it had been the cyclist that had died in the collision, which could easily have been the case.
      His comments are very ill thought out I admit. She was a pedestrian, he was on the road and travelling well within the speed limit.
      Calling him a murderer is utterly ridiculous.
      Read the article and get some perspective

      Reply
  5. Brian

    atk0309 THANK YOU! It’s like the point of this article is “some people get away with murder, so we should let everyone get away with murder especially cyclists because it’s not fair”
    I live in central London and the cars and bikes are just as bad as each other. Both drive through orange lights & red lights, cyclists go on pavements, and all of them want to stop and shout at you for having the temerity to cross a road when the light goes green… being a pedestrian in London is very dangerous.

    It doesn’t matter if I am doing 20 in a 40 zone – if I see a person in the road, shout for them to get out of the way twice, don’t stop and drive into them, killing them, then I’m at fault. I am aware that an accident will happen and I continue regardless. It’s not acceptable to blame the person who died when you don’t even have proper brakes.

    1. How is that not a terrible thing?
    2. Does that not deserve dangerous driving/custodial sentence?
    3. So if a kid ran out into the road and I ran them over, would you say “ah it’s OK he wasn’t speeding and he had right of way”
    4. This little p*** is not remotely remorseful. It wasn’t a mistake, he thought “nah I cba to stop” and because of that someone is dead. A human life was judged as less valuable than 30 seconds of his time.
    5.

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      It’s like the point of this article is “some people get away with murder, so we should let everyone get away with murder especially cyclists because it’s not fair”. No it is not the point of the article. That is a crassly stupid thing to say. The point of the article should have been obvious to anybody not stupid and/or bigoted.

      I pointed out the lack of concern towards danger hurting/killing people. When 0.6% of cases get special attention, it is entirely reasonable (and I would say necessary) to question this bias. And the problem with this bias is not that it is “unfair”, but that it leads to continuation of the neglect of the problem of danger on the road.

      As mentioned in another response, danger from cars is NOT in anyway as bad as that from bicycles, partly because of the greater numbers, but also because of the basic physics of greater mass and speed. And no, that doesn’t excuse bad cycling, it’s just a statement of fact.

      To answer your points, given the judgement of the court (which had not happened when the article was written)
      1. Yes, what you describe is wrong and deserving of punishment. If it is terrible – as it indeed is – I would like to know what you think of the other cases mentioned. Are you spending a lot of time complaining in the media and elsewhere about the lenience in cases which involved far more serious law breaking? Do let us know how you get on.
      2. It can’t be “driving” because that refers to motor vehicles. We are happy to see a review of the law which would allow for a charge which could be given to a cyclist.(I said so in my interview on BBC Radio London this morning 24th August) There are charges of “careless” and “dangerous” given to drivers. In the last case mentioned in the post the charge was of causing death through CARELESS driving”. I don’t know why Alliston should have been charged with a more serious offence than the killer driver in that case was.
      3. Nothing I said could lead to that conclusion. If it worries you that people who get run over in that way have the people responsible given lenient or no punishment (and it should) why are you not complaining about it? No, only in response to an article which points out the lack of attention to the (9.4% of cases where pedestrians are killed. That’s what I mean by bias.
      4. He doesn’t seem remorseful (although you do not know what he thought). It’s a fair point, and remorse when guilty is a good thing, but I’m actually more interested in what people actually do rather than how they feel about it afterwards. So, to take the case of Jessica Wells killing Ian Rose (the last case in the post), she may well have been remorseful. But I’m more interested in the fact she was using a motor vehicle at 44 mph in a 30 mph zone, undertook two careless manoeuvres and then killed someone. She didn’t get the attention Alliston did, despite being in the Old Bailey at the same time, doing far more dangerous manoeuvres and killing someone, and she got no custodial sentence. I’m after some kind of equitable approach here, because we need it if we are going to address the problem of danger on the road.

      I just don’t think you are interested in doing this – I think we would have heard of you if you were genuinely interested in tackling danger on the road from numerous comments, articles, activism etc. by yourself. But no, we only read about it when you object to a post noting the bias towards incidents involving cyclists.

      Reply
    2. Dave

      It highlights double standards, but instead of “some people get away with murder, so we should let everyone get away with murder especially cyclists because it’s not fair”
      I read it as
      “perpetrators of crimes with certain vehicles get away with murder and that’s not fair”.

      Big difference. If you think that justice has been served here (maybe wait til sentencing), how can you be satisfied with the many drivers that get away with a relative slap on the wrist?

      Reply
      1. Simon

        Thanks you. Many posters seem intent on almost wilfully misunderstanding this post.

        It’s not that we think Charlie Alliston should “get away” with dangerous bicycle riding, it’s that we do not think that all the car drivers who currently get away with killing others (pedestrians, cyclists and, yes, other car drivers) should get away with it.

      2. rdrf Post author

        Another commenter gets it! Along with futerko and a few others, you must have actually read what was written!

  6. A Salter

    I am willing to believe the article was written with good intentions. But I have to say I find it condescending and ignorant.
    Condescending in that it assumes people are not well aware of the many more deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicles. Anyone who lives in London is only too well aware of eg the deaths of cyclists because they are given so much publicity. And because of the £millions which have been spent on cycle paths (often at the expense of pedestrians).
    Ignorant in that it does not even acknowledge the vast number of low level crimes committed by cyclists every day which at the minimum cause inconvenience and distress to pedestrians, if not risk of physical harm. Put simply, I cannot recall the last time I felt threatened by a motor vehicle in London. I can recall very clearly the 3 times a cyclist has ridden into me in the last 2 years. And I’d say on average my 2 mile walk to the shops and back involves on average half a dozen cyclists not stopping at crossings or lights, or riding on pavements on the assumption that pedestrians will get out of their way.
    So I submit that a large part of the reaction to the Charlie Alliston case is from pedestrians thinking “at last one of them is going to have to face the music”.
    Finally, while trotting out the usual statistics, it’s a pity you didn’t even nod to the fact that:
    a. other cyclists have killed pedestrians and them just walked (or ridden) away. see eg https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/11/cyclist-sought-police-pedestrian-death-london
    b. the number of pedestrians killed in collisions with cyclists is small but increasing
    c. pedestrian deaths as a result of collisions with cyclists and motor vehicles are about the same per mile travelled

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      A Salter:

        Condescending:

      People may be aware of many more deaths and injuries, but they are not given the same kind of coverage or attention as this case. That is part of the double standards the post was about. Deaths of cyclists are generally only referred to where HGVs are involved, not the vast majority of cyclist casualties, as these involve cars, then van and buses.

      I don’t see how cycle paths (which have a small part of general transport expenditure) are “at the expense of the pedestrian”. Engineering like Walthamstow’s “mini-Holland” has big advantages in terms of motor traffic reduction for pedestrians.

        Ignorant:

      You’re right to talk about rule and law breaking in general as well as that which results in death. Law breaking by drivers is endemic: the most obvious example being speeding which is done by c.40% when they are able in 30 mph zones, and 60% admit to it at some time. In 20 mph areas this rises to c.80%. Maybe motor traffic is always congested where you walk. Or you’re just not worried by it. Or you’re prepared to jump out of the way of errant drivers, but not errant cyclists. You may not feel you are the victim of “low-level crimes” by drivers, but the rule and law breaking is there just as much as from rule/law-breaking cyclists. In fact the %ages on speeding indicate drivers being worse.

      Of course, some pedestrians might want to punish all cyclists because of the actions of some that they have noticed, but that doesn’t mean that cyclists are (as a group) as much of a threat as drivers for the reasons I have given. These pedestrians are, I submit, very often picking on the errant cyclists because they have got used to the fact of driver misbehaviour, rule and law breaking as “normal” and acceptable. That’s the point of the article – it’s not defending cyclist misbehaviour, simply arguing against double standards which diminish the importance of, and excuse, the greater problem. It really is that simple.

      On statistics: (b) I can’t see evidence for this – particularly in the context of increasing cycling in London one would have expected a big increase – but it doesn’t seem to be there, certainly not given the increase in cycling. (c) What do you mean “miles travelled”: by cyclists, pedestrians, or motor vehicles? Actually, the proportion of pedestrian deaths in which cyclists are involved is lower than the share of traffic that is cyclists. Cyclists are less likely to be involved in a pedestrian fatality than a driver. Two points: 1. Pedestrians aren’t actually worried about that – it’s the overall chances, and there the %age of cyclist involvement is tiny. 2. If you talk o anybody who cycles and drives as well, they will tell you that pedestrians are far more attentive to drivers (because they know motor vehicles pose more of a threat). If you factor that in, you see that an average cyclist poses even less of a threat compared to the average driver – quite apart from the overall %age argument.

      Still, at least you recognise I have good intentions

      Reply
      1. A Salter

        Just 3 brief points:
        1. If you do not accept that cycle paths have often been introduced at the expense of pedestrians then I invite you to look eg at the many places pavements have been made narrower, at dual use (especially at junctions), and at island bus stops.

        2. I comment that you do “not even acknowledge the vast number of low level crimes committed by cyclists every day” and you respond by banging on about the crimes committed by drivers. And with what I consider condescending comments about my behaviour.

        3. On the statistics, am I wrong that the Reported Road Casualties Great Britain show an average of 2.2 pedestrian deaths p.a. over 2005-09 and 3.7 over 2010-15? As for the “miles travelled” I meant the ratio of pedestrian deaths per mile travelled by (a) cars or (b) cycles.

        While I still do not doubt your good intentions, I am sorry to say the overall message I am getting is “2 wheels good, 4 wheels bad”, and those who do not see that need re-education.

        REPLYING: (sorry seem to have to do this in your comment):
        1. “Shared use” is now generally recognised as a sub-standard facility. Space, where taken for cyclists, should come from motor vehicular traffic except when there is plenty of under used pedestrian space.
        2. I do indeed “bang on” about low and high level crimes committed by drivers, because they are the ones that are mainly (no, not ALL) responsible for hurting, or killing others. Unfortunately a lot of these acts of law breaking are so commonplace they are not noticed by many who claim to speak for pedestrians. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m sorry if that seems to be seen as wanting to “re-educate” – it’s just telling the truth! It’s a simple point: if almost all of the problem is from the motorised – simply because of their numbers, speed and mass – then we should be spending our time and resources on them.
        3. The figures are 31/5525 pedestrian deaths over 2005 – 2015 had a bicycle as the main other vehicle. Or 0.6% of all pedestrian deaths. Re-miles travelled by car and bicycle, you have to remember that a much larger proportion of car miles compared to cycle miles are made in non-urban and other highway environments where they are far less likely to be in conflict with a pedestrian. Also, as any person who uses both modes will testify, pedestrians are far more wary of motor vehicles than of bicycles. The bottom line is that a bicycle user poses far less of a threat than a motorist or motorcyclist does – and that should be considered as an important basis for a framework where we consider danger to all road users and how to combat it.
        Finally, we all have a responsibility towards crating a world with less car dependence. How are you going to achieve this ina healthy and environmentally friendly way without doing what similar European countries do, namely to support cycling?

        I don’t doubt your sincerity, but you must appreciate our anger at people with a softly-softly attitude towards driver crime who have hypocritically suddenly “discovered” pedestrian safety with the Alliston case.

        And if you are endlessly going to point out the rule and law breaking of cyclists, supposedly on behalf of pedestrians, one might at some stage point out that pedestrians can and do break rules. RDRF makes it clear that the onus lies with the vehicle (including bicycle) user, but a wide ranging discussion on road user rights and responsibilities might have to refer to those of pedestrians. You don’t mention that matter. For what it’s worth, I don’t “bang on” about it either, because it’s a small part of the problem. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, just that it a small part in a world where we have to prioritise. And the same goes for cycling and cyclist misdemeanours.

  7. Mark

    As a person who cycles to work everyday, I find this article simply disgusting. The actions of this cyclist is nothing short of disgraceful, and not once do I find you condemning his actions in anything like the strength they deserve. Instead of dealing with the issues this tragic case raises you seek to transfer the attention to other road users. You coward.

    There is a real problem of aggressive cyclists travelling at excess speed, weaving in and out of traffic, and being abusive to any who impede their journey. Instead of using this as an opportunity to remind cyclists of the need to make sure their bikes are legal, to be courteous and not mistake roads are a velodrome you ignore them like a perverse ostrich.

    I now believe that the law needs to be changed to allow us cyclists to be dealt with under the road traffic act for offenses such as dangerous or reckless cycling.

    The vast majority of cyclists are like me law abiding people who cycle responsibly, and are abhorred by this cyclist and your mealy mouthed article on this subject. You do not speak for us.

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      Mark: I have accepted your rude and unfounded comments for publication, but they are clearly outrageously wrong and completely misrepresent what I said.

      At no point did anything I say attempt to justify, condone, accept, tolerate or support the actions of the cyclist. It was actually written BEFORE the verdict came out, so nothing could legally be said about his actions, “disgraceful” or otherwise. That’s the law Mr Mark!

      Re-allowing cyclists to be dealt with under the Road Traffic Act , that’s what I suggested should be happening in my comments on BBC Radio London this morning.

      RE – cowardice. I can’t be the judge. But I would say that 30 years of campaigning, working as an academic, local authority transport practitioner, writer and broadcaster has brought me a lot of flak for opposing danger on the roads. Taking at a pop at law breaking cyclists (which I do anyway, but only in the context of massively greater rule and law breaking by the motorised) would have been the easy (cowardly?) thing to do. Questioning what motorists get up to, and particularly the ways in which the official “road safety” industry accommodates, colludes and connives with bad driving has been pretty hard , certainly in career terms. I can’t say I’m brave, but coming up against car culture can be pretty hard!

      Incidentally, my work since the late 1990s in promoting good quality on-road cycle training in local government has probably reduced law breaking such as pavement cycling amongst trained cyclists. I’ve done more than most to create law abiding cyclists. But then I guess you’re not interested in actually making things better. Or the facts of what RDRF actually does.

      There has been quite massive interest in this post and substantial support for what it says here and on Twitter. Evidently it does speak for many concerned about reducing danger on the road, whether they are cyclists or just people who want a civilised approach to the issue.

      Reply
  8. Mark

    I did not say you condoned, or excused his actions, what I said was that your condemnation of his behaviour is shockingly mild.

    My central point is that there is a growing minority of aggressive cyclists who seem to think the roads, and pavements are their sole domain. I say this as a cyclist.

    Their behaviour includes travelling at dangerously high speed, weaving in and out of traffic, and reckless overtaking. Do you agree with that?

    This tragedy is an opportunity for the cycling community to look at itself and say the above behaviour and attitude is not acceptable. Do you agree with that?

    This tragedy is an opportunity to educate the cycling community to make sure that they know the laws pertaining to cycling, re front and rear breaks etc. Do you agree with that?

    I am glad you agree that the road traffic act should be changed to incorporate cyclists.

    Yes the work you and others have done and continue to do, to improve road safety for cyclists is much appreciated and must continue. I thank you for that. But now, on this occasion we need to tackle a problem where some cyclists are the issue. We must use this to challenge and change the behaviour of this minority who are dangerous and give the rest of us a bad name.

    I accept that far too many cyclists are injured and killed every year, but we must acknowledge that people die every year because of dangerous cycling. I believe it’s about 1 to 2 a year, of course there are many more who are injured. Far fewer than the number of cyclists, but at what number of deaths or injuries of pedestrians do we sit up and take action.

    The disgraceful and oh so disappointing part of your article is that instead of acknowledging this and using your role to start a discussion, on how we deal with it, you duck the issue.

    Reply
    1. Leigh

      Could only find this from a 2014 article,
      “One pedestrian was killed by a cyclist and 78 were seriously injured in 2012. At the same time, 253 pedestrians were killed by drivers in urban areas and 4,426 were seriously injured”.
      So yeah let’s all start a discussion about the menace of the cyclist on our roads. Or as this article suggests, about road safety as a whole pedestrian, cyclist, and drivers equally.

      Reply
      1. A Salter

        The numbers of pedestrians killed or seriously injured in collisions with pedal cycles are regularly much greater than those in collision with motorcycles 50cc and under*. So would you be happy to see those motorcycles on the road without insurance and registration, without licences for riders, and with education rather than enforcement for traffic violations?

        * in RRCGB 2015: pedal cycles 2 fatal, 100 serious; motorcycles <=50cc 0 fatal, 22 serious

      2. rdrf Post author

        In reply to A Salter.

        Motorcycles as a whole are FAR more likely to be involved in collisions with pedestrians than bicycles are.

        It’s possible to ride a motorbike with just an L -plate but – so what? – that is absolutely not the point.

        Users of motor vehicles have, as they drearily and persistently point out, passed a test, got insurance, MOTs etc. – and they are still far more of a menace to road users in general and pedestrians in particular.

        I do find it fascinating that supposed defenders of pedestrians only appear when it’s cyclists being the problem. As a long term advocate of pedestrians’ rights I’m appalled by this revolting hypocrisy.

      3. Martin

        Cyclists have to share the same space as pedestrians on the many combined pedestrian / cycle paths, 50cc don’t, so of course fewer accidents. Thought that was obvious. So as 50cc have to share with traffic, I wonder how many are killed by other vehicles? More than 2 I would think. As an observation, proportionately there are very many more cyclists than 50cc mopeds, or (under???) that era has gone. Just remember the Dutch model. Most motorists there cycle, also no helmets but lower head injuries than uk. Pedestrians amd cyclists treated as vunerable and have priority. Oh, and their healthier.

      4. rdrf Post author

        Reply to Mark.
        Leigh can answer for himself. I have referred to this in the next post – I couldn’t on this because the verdict had not come in.
        If we have a framework for road users of all types who pose a threat to others (thy don’t have to be “reckless” or “aggressive”) then cyclists would fit into it. The point is we don’t.
        Like the great motoring public, you don’t seem to want to recognise that.

    2. Peter S

      Mark,

      The point of the article is very simple: the number of people killed by cyclists is a tiny fraction of those killed by motorists. It is therefore wrong that the media gives so much attention to these cases while those killed by motorists are forgotten. Even worse is the atrocious record that the judicial system has in ensuring those motorists who kill people are punished appropriately. .

      Of course the actions of Mr Alliston were very wrong (although there were a few aspects of the way the case was prosecuted that were certainly questionable). And no decent cyclist wants other cyclists to break the law – as a law abiding cyclist I continue to remonstrate with those who jump red lights or turn without indicating, just as I ask motorists to show me the courtesy of not endangering my life because they spy an opportunity to get to the obstruction 50 metres down the road five seconds earlier. But public money is a scarce resource and must be spent where the return on the desired policy is greatest. The statistics show that motorists are responsible for almost all deaths on UK roads each year. If the desired policy thus is to protect lives – which it should be, as the state’s first priority is the protection of its citizens – then logically public money should be directed at measures that stop motorists from killing others, not at measures that stop other road users from killing others. Again, that is because motorists are responsible for almost all fatalities on the roads, not other road users.

      Doubtless you will suggest that this is not an ‘either or’ situation and that some money can still be spent on ensuring cyclists do not present a risk to others. And I think that’s fair enough, though in line with the risk/return principle already stated, meaning the vast majority of public funding available would be spent on preventing motorists from killing people. I defer to the impartial experts such as RDRF as to how a reduction of the risk posed by cyclists might be best achieved, though my preference would be for segregated cycle paths that take road space away from cars rather than pavement space away from pedestrians. My reasoning is that shared cyclist-pedestrian spaces are inefficient at best and collisions waiting to happen at worst, while cars are inherently space-inefficient given that most of them only have one passenger, the driver. Accountability is important too, and the RDRF’s support for an overhaul of traffic laws and the Highway Code seems eminently sensible. But as I say, I shall defer to them and other experts on this.

      Reply
    3. rdrf Post author

      I wasn’t in a position to comment before the verdict. If you read the next post you’ll see that we accept the verdict.

      I deal with the points you make in the next post and in other replies, but I will make some sort of a response (again).

      “The cycling community”. There is not one, certainly not one which should blame itself for the behaviour of some people who ride bicycles. Do motorists self-flagellate over the behaviour of all too many motorists because they “give motorists a bad name”? If any group SHOULD accept collective guilt, is indeed the “motoring community”, because as drivers maybe they are implicated in how their vehicles may be used?

      Actually, I don’t think bad driving should be castigated by members of “the motoring community” – it should be by all of us, whatever modes of transport we use. A lot has been written about the absurdity of cyclist collective responsibility (by As Easy As Riding A Bike” blog, for example. The crucial point is this internalisation of self blame with the “give us a bad name” mentality. It just reinforces the status of cyclists as a stigmatised out group that somehow has to justify the existence of cycling, whereas drivers – if anything, more suitable to blameworthy group – do not.

      I don’t duck the issue. I state the issue. It is endangering other people, and the fact that almost all of it is treated with a lack of interest, low level enforcement,and all too trivial penalties in the rare cases where there is “punishment” is given out. Cyclists can and do break the rules, as all road users do, and that should be addressed. The only civilised way to do so is within a framework where we are actually going to be spending almost all our time and resources on what drivers get up to. That’s because of their greater numbers, mass and velocity. That’s not my fault. I really would rather have a world where the only (or even major) problems were from cyclists and we could concentrate on that.

      Reply
  9. Mark

    Sorry forgot to say you can discuss the issues the case highlights without breaching court reporting conditions. You could also of updated the article after the verdict. Lastly I think the title of the article “The Charlie Williston case – the real story” indicates your desire not to discuss the issues I have raised.

    Why don’t you prove me wrong and write an article on bad and dangerous behaviour of some cyclists and how we tackle it?

    Reply
    1. A Salter

      Hear, hear.

      And it would be nice if there were rather more regard to what pedestrians think rather than what they ought to think. I still accept a role for experts, but I wonder how many experts who have spent years campaigning for more cycling, and more provision for cycling, are willing to accept that it may not be ignorance and hysteria which makes so many pedestrians and drivers despair at the behaviour of so many cyclists?

      Cyclists in London at least have been encouraged to think they have the moral right to take priority by Mayoral campaigns and by pretty well zero enforcement. “The police argue that education is better than enforcment and that “It is entirely possible to ride sensibly on the pavement”. Yeah – right. That’s going to work really well with the ones who aren’t sensible. After all, that’s how they tackle knife crime and dangerous driving… o, hangabout.

      Reply
      1. Leigh

        So to clarify, your position is that it is cyclists that are the greater threat to pedestrian safety, yet the figures point to cars in fact being the real problem for cyclists AND pedestrians alike. Divide and conquer tactics, pit cyclists and pedestrians against each other while distracting from the greater harm caused by motorised vehicles. All the while the courts consistently seem to hand out lenient sentences to the many many many drivers who kill while driving.

      2. rdrf Post author

        Reply to A Salter:
        A couple of points since you’re not willing to listen to facts (what you call “experts”). There is precious little to reverse the tide of motorisation for cyclists or pedestrians. How this adds up to “being encouraged to think they have the moral right…by Mayoral campaigns” is incomprehensible. We are absolutely in favour of enforcement of law breaking, as said in my next post and obvious throughout both posts.

        I did mention motorist law breaking, and we are blindingly obviously pushing for law enforcement, but you wanted to say that motorist law breaking wasn’t that important to you.

    2. rdrf Post author

      3rd reply to Mark. I have discussed the issues after the verdict in the next post. I think the real story is NOT the issues you and the mass media have “raised”. I explain why I think that in detail.

      Reply
  10. Shane Foran

    Hi Mark

    I am not going to presume to answer on behalf of RDRF. However with regret, your questions suggest that you have no idea what the Road Danger Reduction Forum does or of the principles on which it is based. I strongly suggest that you go and read the Road Danger Reduction Charter and take time to have a cup of tea and absorb its meaning. With regret, you are wasting everybody’s time and your own reputation if you come in here posting “questions” to which the answers are well established and already available to you.

    To address a fundamental misconception in your contribution there is no “community” of cyclists any more than there is a “community” of motorists or pedestrians. When a person leaves their dwelling to go to a destination they do not join, by the fact of how they choose to travel, some secret society whose members share a responsibility to police each other. The task of policing has been allocated to particular group of people with lawful authority. In your comments you describe behaviours by road users that constitute road crime and road violence. The issue here is how such behaviours are characterised, debated and discussed in the media and the courts. (This also ties in to how they are policed.) Is road violence treated consistently regardless of source and if not why not?

    Reply
  11. Mark

    Leigh, how many pedestrians have to be killed or injured by aggressive or reckless cyclists before we cyclists take action?

    Reply
    1. rdrf Post author

      In response to Mark:
      As said below, I have spent a lot of time arguing in this and the next post for the need for a comprehensive enforcement and sentencing framework which would address the behaviour of all road users which endangers others. the fact that this would concentrate on what motor vehicle users drivers and riders do is not my fault, it is because of the overwhelming number of motor vehicles, the fact that they have greater mass and speed than cyclists, and that their law/rule breaking is endemic. It’s not excusing bad cycling. Lots of people really don’t want to take that fact on board.

      I won’t go on about that further, but just point out the issue re- “we cyclists”. I am interested in danger reduction because I am member of this society. I don’t sign up to be a member of a “community of cyclists” any more than I signed up to be a member of a “community of pedestrians”. I don’t feel the need as a pedestrian to stop careless walkers. Above all, I don’t feel I have to be accepting of the “give us a bad name ” mentality which cements the status of cyclists in a stigmatised out group.

      Reply
  12. Mark

    I am interested in danger reduction on roads, and you are quite right that the greatest cause of road deaths in the UK are motor vehicles. As I have said the work you and others have and continue to do regarding this is invaluable.

    This is not a zero sum game, we can and must tackle poor and criminal behaviour in all areas, be the motor vehicle / cyclist / or pedestrian.

    The frustrating and sad thing for me is that there is a growing problem with aggressive cyclists who are a danger to other road users. This tragic death is an opportunity to tackle one facet of Improving road safety. Yet there is a reluctance even a reticance to admit that there are cyclists who cause problems.

    So I ask again can you admit there are cyclists who cause danger to other road users.
    Can you as a road safety campaigner say “how can we deal with these cyclists”
    Can you use this website to start that conversation?

    As I said this is not a zero sum game and we must at the same time continue to campaign for safer road safety, improvements in driving behaviour, and better Street and road design .

    If you can’t or won’t do this, then ask yourself is this site nothing more than an echo chamber?

    Reply
    1. Mary Handy

      I don’t know why you bother, Mark.

      The replies which you are receiving (such as they are) is simply a strain of apologism for reckless cycling. That attitude is largely responsible for influencing the behaviour of those who then commit criminal acts like the one which is now under consideration.

      It is a brick wall mentality. To partially adopt your analogy, we do indeed see here an echo chamber. It is one which is lined with these bricks, each one as thick and intransigent as its fellows who no doubt populate self entitled cycling fora up and down the country!

      Reply
      1. rdrf Post author

        I am sorry you think that. I have made it clear ad nauseam that we’re fine with dealing with people cycling and walking in ways which endanger others, in a framework/approach which identifies threats to all road users from all sources, and prioritises accordingly. Why is that apologism?

        And the idea that people pushing for reducing road danger at source are responsible for commission of criminal acts is disgusting

    2. futerko

      some great observations Mark – it is not a zero sum game and there is inconsiderate and sometimes dangerous rule breaking behaviour from all categories of road user – pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers

      the question this brings up here is – why is it so often in regard to cyclists that it is perceived and treated as a zero sum game?

      you almost fall into this yourself when you ask how we can deal with the growing number of aggressive cyclists…

      is it the case that all other road users are obeying the rules and calmly going about their business when these “lycra louts” enter the scene like some band of marauding vikings, or is it an overly reactive response from cyclists who are finding themselves in situations where there is a general atmosphere of aggression and a well established precedent that the law will not protect them in cases where they are seriously injured or killed?

      Reply
      1. toby josham

        Over the years I’ve seen monumentally stupid behavior on all sides, pedestrian, cyclist and motorist…however there seems to be a focus on the reckless cyclists rather than the reckless motorist who is far more likely to cause serious injury or death.

    3. rdrf Post author

      First of all, apologies for late reply + difficulties with moderation system. I hope to post all comments providing they are non-abusive. I ahve missed out on some from the same person saying the same thing.
      “Zero sum game”: It’s an arena (hardly game) where the principal cause of intimidation/threat to others is visible and known, but not recognised as such by the society we live in. Challenging that danger means just that: specifying it and calling it out. It will seem to many that this is excusing bad behaviour by others. It isn’t, although possibly rule infractions of a relatively minor nature will miss out on action while we prioritise the most serious. That’s what I think we have to do.

      The alternative involves endless breast beating about issues such as bad behaviour by pedestrians. Do you want to get diverted into discussions about whether we should criminalise some pedestrian behaviours because they these can result in 2 wheeled people being hurt? I thi nk there is a central problem about not questioning the specific problems caused by (ab) use of motor vehicles, and then the fact that the scale of the problem is massive that we will have to prioritise.

      “Road safety”. Take a look at this web site. We are NOT “road safety” campaigners. We work as professionals and campaigners against road danger, which is quite different.

      “deal with” As said elsewhere, if we have a framework for law and its enforcement which works against those endangering others, we are quite happy to include some forms of cycling behaviour in that. Of course, that will inevitably come down the list of priorities, and it is more than likely that there will still be people behaving badly on bicycles – there will certainly be complaints about them, as there always have been, well behave red light jumping and pavement cycling. Some people are just going to hate people who ride bicycles – period. There is also a very good case for pushing good quality on-road cycle training – members of the RDRF committee have done this since the late 1990s.

      “admit” There are plainly bicyclists, pedestrians and all sorts of people who, ss human beings, will inevitably do things that are not right. Do see the above.

      Reply
  13. A Salter

    I cannot reply to RDRF’s reply to me which ended with the comment:

    “I do find it fascinating that supposed defenders of pedestrians only appear when it’s cyclists being the problem. As a long term advocate of pedestrians’ rights I’m appalled by this revolting hypocrisy.”

    I suppose that since he started with “tu quoque” it would be fitting to let him to end with “ad hominem”.

    But I’m not going to because I am confused and dismayed that someone who devoted to road safety insists that the right response to a conviction of a cyclist following the death of a pedestrian is to insist that cyclists are not a problem we should be looking at. Apart from anything else, do you really think that’s going to win you support? Bearing in mind the ageing population?

    Oh, and I did notice you swerved my question about mopeds. Straight out of the politicians’ manual.

    And did you assume this is my first contribution to the subject just because I don’t agree with you?

    Reply
    1. Robert Shriner

      Many people who comment here find that their remarks disappear when they disagree with RDRF’s point of view, so you can think yourself lucky that yours has been “allowed” through.

      It is pretty obvious what the agenda here is- road safety is not part of this agenda when it comes to cyclists being called to account.

      Reply
      1. rdrf Post author

        I have posted all non-abusive comments, with replies, even from people like you going on about farting cyclists.

        Road danger reduction is quite different from what passes for “road safety”. Try reading the web site articles.

        I have stated a number of times how we think cyclists should be accountable. If I repeated myself even more times it wouldn’t make any difference to people like yourself

      2. Robert Shriner

        This is the problem- oversensitive snowflake syndrome. Farting cyclists? How dreadful. You go wrong when you state that the person was “going on” about this. In fact, it was mentioned once and the vulgar terminology which you used is yours alone.

        I am not sure where the “people like yourself” fits into this. That expression smacks of bigotry and small minded generalisation. It certainly has no place in a public forum which professes to be about road safety.

        It is reassuring to now hear your acknowledgement that cyclists should be held accountable. Credit is due to you for belatedly recognising this.

      3. rdrf Post author

        It is not “belatedly recognising this“. It is what it was about from the beginning. At least some commenters get this.

        This is not a “public forum which professes to be about road safety”. The Road Danger Reduction Forum was formed by transport practitioners and others – some of whom come from an official “road safety” background such as Road Safety Officers – who wanted to promote an approach which is different from traditional “road safety”. If you have the slightest interest, you can read our history and what we stand for through numerous posts, most of which are written by myself, Dr Robert Davis, as Chair of the RDRF

      4. Dr R Johnson

        Yes, I too was encouraged by the eventual aknowledgement that cyclists should be held accountable- this is not at all clear from some of the material put out on this site. It does seem odd to suggest that the, ah, “reduction of danger” is something different to road safety, but I suppose that we must cater for the eccentricities of those who organise these public forums!

    2. rdrf Post author

      Err, you are replying.

      1. The response was not to the conviction.
      2. I have never said we shouldn’t look at potential problems from bad cycling. I explained how we wanted to see this in the right kind of framework with a commitment to avoid the double standards which inevitably avoid looking at the major dangers for pedestrians and others.
      3. We are not here to fit into people’s prejudices, but to push for an approach to death and injury which is decent and civilised. We actually do get support. Of course we don’t get support from many because we challenge the dominant ideology. We are going to upset some people.
      4. Re-the ageing population, we think that problems from elderly drivers (such as they are) should be countered and not accomodated – see https://rdrf.org.uk/2016/07/04/supporting-safe-driving-into-old-age-a-dreadful-report/ – a lot of these elderly people won’t like us because we want a responsible approach to elderly people driving. BTW I am a pensioner myself.
      5. I did answer about mopeds. I think they are more of a danger than bicycles because they are heavier, and the last figures I looked at suggested they were more likely to be involved in RTCs with pedestrians than bicycles. I can’t go into great detail on this one because (a) there are small numbers involved and I don’t think very clear answers will come out and (b) I think it’s pretty much a side issue. What I would say is that a line of potential danger to others – based on potential kinetic energy dispersed on impact – need sto be drawn somewhere, and between mopeds and bicycles seems about right. Most important of all – and don’t tell me this is a politician’s answer – licensing doesn’t seem to be any kind of answer. After all, motorists have licences.
      6. I have to say that I haven’t read sustained contributions to the subject of pedestrian safety from you in the national or transport media, or come across you in campaigning groups working for pedestrian safety.

      Reply
      1. A Salter

        “4. Re-the ageing population, we think that problems from elderly drivers (such as they are) should be countered and not accomodated ”

        I am sorry you read my comment as referring to elderly drivers. I referred only to pedestrians and had in mind the many elderly pedestrians who are scared daily by the behaviour of some cyclists – especially on pavements and crossings. You may well be right that their perceptions of relative risk of KSI are wrong but dismissing their views on, and their loss of utility as a result of, unlawful behaviour seems at the very least impolitic.

          Replying in post:

        So you’re not interested in the danger posed to other road users by drivers. We are. You should be.

  14. futerko

    Some of the logic (I use the term loosely) on the comments of this thread seriously beggar belief – what if we apply this logic across the board…

    Knife crime is almost exclusively carried out by pedestrians – pedestrians need to put their house in order! What are pedestrians proposing to do to curb these aggressive and dangerous pedestrians?

    Recent terror attacks have been exclusively carried out by motorists, they give motorists a bad name! How are motorists proposing to tackle the issue of these reckless drivers who show no regard for human life?

    If this sounds ridiculous and absurd, congratulations, you’ve understood how your logic concerning cyclists comes across.

    Reply
  15. Pingback: Just one year… – Nicer cities, liveable places

  16. Pingback: Considerate, defensive cycling and taking responsibility | River & City

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