Tuesday 21 April 2015

The Law is an Ass.

Today I went to court.

Well, I say I went to court, I actually didn't make it into court. I only made it as far as the witness room. There, I was waiting to go into court to testify against a driver who was charged with dangerous driving.

This is the incident for which the driver was charged.

As suggested in the video, I never got into the court room because the charge was dismissed. Let me explain what happened...

(Please note that what follows is either fact or my honest opinion. The driver is of course innocent until proven guilty....)

So I arrive at Dumbarton Sheriff court and find my way to the witness room. I am soon joined by another gentleman in a suit (yes I was wearing a suit!) and a police officer. Straight away I recognise the police officer as the one I reported the incident to and he is talking to the other gent in the suit. Very quickly I work out that the suited gent is in fact the driver of the oncoming car that had to brake in my video. We strike up conversation...

It turns out that the gent (let's call him Jim)...that Jim was not only a driver, but a cyclist to. Jim and I had a good long chat about cycling in general, about training, sportives, bad drivers etc. We obviously mentioned the incident itself, and I asked what his recollection of it was.

All I saw was a car coming quickly towards me in my lane!

Jim told me he was shocked by it and told people at work when he got there. Despite the police not catching up with him for a month or so (holidays), he remembered the incident and was able to give a statement.

We were both surprised that the case had got as far as court, as we agreed the driving (in our opinion's) had be terrible.

We also chatted to the police officer, who seemed a friendly chap. The officer pointed out that the driver might be defending himself as, and I didn't know this, driving charges don't qualify for legal aid. I wasn't sure I wanted to get cross-examined by the driver, but...it had to be done.

We later discovered via the court clerk that he was represented by a lawyer after all and that there was a legal 'issue' that was being discussed.

A while later, the clerk came in and informed us that the case was dismissed. He couldn't say why, though it was suggested it was a 'procedural issue' and I might be able to find out more tomorrow by phoning the Procurator Fiscal. I will of course do that.

That was that.

The driver walked away without charge.

I am not happy (to put it mildly).

Again, I stress this is my educated opinion.....but that driving was dangerous. End of. Pure and simple. I had to brake sharply. The oncoming driver had to brake sharply. Had either of us not reacted in time.....I dread to think what would have happened.

The driver in this video is free to continue driving, charge free.

This ladies and gentleman is....no, no...,....I'm not going to swear. He isn't worth it.

What I will say is this.... You cannot depend on the legal system protecting you. If the driver can hire a good lawyer, and if there is the slightest, tiniest gap in what the police or PF has done, they will get off. Don't believe me? Just read here.

I am not saying we shouldn't report these drivers to the police. Quite the opposite, I will continue to do so, and hopefully the police and PF will learn whatever lessons are needed to get the prosecutions. I have more cases to come over the next couple of months and I will of course keep you informed of my progress.

However, if we really want the roads safe for cycling, we cannot depend on the law to protect us. I also firmly believe that we cannot depend on education.

What can and will bring safe, mass cycling is investment in infrastructure. It is the only modification that has been demonstrated time and time again, in place after place, to make a difference. So we know the answer, and we know that we want more cycling and that we want it to be safe. How do we get there?

I cannot stress enough how much of a difference POP is already making and will continue to make, but we only have the clout that YOU give us. Let's turn out in our thousands and send a strong message that, enough is enough.

Let's make Scotland a cycle friendly nation!!


  1. All the more reason that we need a Driver Risk Score system which does not require tying up courts etc.

    Dangerous driving, less serious motoring offences which get FPN's etc clock up a risk score. Insurance companies check risk scores and give weighting/discount for red/amber/green banding, Police use risk scores and patterns of bad driving to target enforcement to places where it will have greatest effect.

    They have it for trucks & buses so let's just extend it to all drivers?

  2. The people responsible for letting that guy off...I don't know how they sleep at night. Law? Justice? Nuts.