Friday, 3 May 2013

What Chance Have We Got?

Seriously. What chance as a cyclist do we actually have? What chance do we have when the law is very heavily stacked against us. Very heavily.

After work I had a quick look at the news and came across this article. Beware it may, if you have any sense of proportion or fairness, make you very angry.

Let me summarise the facts. Not hearsay, but the facts.

Driver is driving badly.

Cyclist is cycling in a perfectly reasonable manner.

Driver hits cyclist and kills them.

Driver has killed a cyclist due to bad driving before.

Driver claims the accident happened due to being 'momentarily' distracted for some reason.

Cyclist must take some blame because they weren't wearing a helmet.

First off, let me be perfectly clear. Momentary distraction is absolutely no excuse for killing a cyclist. None whatsoever. In fact I covered this very issue in a recent blog on a different case. If you are driving in such a way that being distracted for a moment causes you to hit another road user then, I'm sorry, but you are not driving safely at all. What ever happened to driving within the conditions and forward planning? Are these not important skills for a driver these days?

But it gets worse. Much worse. The judge suggests, and I quote,

"Mrs Fyffe wasn't to blame in any way for the accident. However, she was not wearing a safety helmet and that in my view contributed to her death."

No. I'm sorry. Whether this lady was wearing or not wearing a completely ineffectual (for anything above a 12mph impact) piece of polystyrene, it did not contribute to her death. The evidence, and here I am talking about scientific evidence, in no way suggests that wearing or not wearing a helmet will make any difference to your likelihood to die if you are hit by a car. In fact, there are realistic situations where wearing one could indeed contribute to your risk of dying.

It is very obvious that the judge took absolutely no account of the fact that the cyclist is the vulnerable person here. The driver, by the very fact that he is driving a potentially dangerous weapon has a duty of care for more vulnerable road users. Instead the judge has  sent a very strong message out to cyclists and potential cyclists.

Don't expect the law to provide you with any protection. Your only protection is a couple of centimetres of polystyrene. 

So to any of my readers who dislike cyclists; if you want to kill a cyclist and you want to get away with the lightest punishment possible, and you want to cause further pain to the cyclists relatives by burdening them with the thought that their loved one was, in some way, also to blame, even when they weren't......

Aim for cyclists without helmets on.

To the vast majority of my readers who want roads that are safe for all, a law system that actually protects vulnerable road users, and who want to send a message to judges such as the one in this case that we will not stand for outcomes like this, join us on the 19th May at 3pm at the Meadows for Pedal on Parliament (POP) 2. POP whilst fighting for money for cycle infrastructure spending also calls for Sensible road traffic law and enforcement in our manifesto.

Together we can make tragedies like this and miscarriages of justice like this a thing of the past.


  1. Set blood temperature to "Boil"


    Really W-T-F?

    Surely killing TWICE is evidence of some basic flaw in this person, a flaw serious enough to REMOVE them from the task that means this flaw CANNOT harm or endanger others?

    Mind you when the judge makes comments like that I'm actually surprised they banned him for so is an utter disgrace.

  2. I wasn't in court but the judge surely gave the game away when he said "in my view" because that indicates that he did not actually have evidence for his "view". I suspect he had no actual evidence to support this view at all as this was a sentencing hearing.

  3. I believe that cyclist are more alert than any other road users. We (because I cyclist too) are more aware of what is happening in the road, from the pothole on the left to the astonishing overtake of the car infront. When we are in the bike, we capture almost everything. However, it is shocking to realise that our lives are at risk because of a momentary distraction of a car driver. Simply, shocking.

  4. Brace yourself for getting even more angry - he has previous with regards to letting drivers off after they smash into innocent cyclists:

    1. I saw that but wanted to focus on this case alone. I think it's shocking enough! I think it goes beyond one judge. It's a sign of how much weight our justice system places on vulnerable road users, i.e. virtual none.

  5. I'd seen something about that pedal on parliament thing before and thought "meh". But this reminds me of how much it matters. So there will be at least 4 more people there on the 19th because of the decision of this Sheriff.

    We need to make noise, because as it turns out, cycling on roads is still political.

    1. Gordon, it will be great to see you there. It really is worth coming along. In big numbers it is harder to ignore us.

  6. The Sheriff's statement "in my view" say's it all. The motive for his statement was the same reason you would believe the earth was flat: ignorance of evidence to the contrary.

    Why didn't he mention getting out of bed as contributory? After all if the victim hadn't done that the crash would never happened at all so it played a bigger roll than no helmet.

  7. Great post... I commented on this too (but your anger comes across better!)