A bad decision

Published: Tuesday, 25 June 2019

This [the cyclist clobbered for over £100,000] is a bad decision by the judge, writes Kelvin Alexander-Duggan.

Everyone is responsible for themselves and she [the woman bringing the case] should be prosecuted. The cyclist cannot be held responsible for the negligence of others. Incidentally If you have house insurance you usually have public liability insurance included.

A dodgy precedent

That is a very dodgy precedent to set as there seems to be clear proof that the pedestrian wasn't looking where she was going. Whatever happened to contributory negligence? The highway code stipulates if you have to step into the road you must look both ways first and show due care and consideration for other road users. So she should be done for undue care and consideration then. As she stepped out in front on him, looking down at her phone, when the crossing light was red, and then she panicked and ran straight into his path that he'd swerved to avoid her. A fact that multiple witnesses confirm, She is totally to blame.

 He was not forcing his way through as was stated. She was the only one to walk on to the crossing after the crossing light turned red. A fact that multiple witnesses confirmed, there was no crowd on the crossing The people who had been on the crossing were just stepping on to the pavement when she walked out into the road on her own.

Cyclist could not avoid her

Mr Hazeldean said in the witness box that as he approached the spot where people were crossing, there was a large patch of clear road, although some people were still on the extreme left hand side of the carriageway about to step onto the pavement. 'Three witnesses said she stepped out and that the cyclist could not avoid her

 Summing up the case Judge Shanti Mauger stated:

"When I stand back and ask 'how did the accident happen?' it seems to me that Mr Hazeldean owed a duty to other road users to drive with reasonable care and skill. Mr Hazeldean did fall below the level to be expected of a reasonably competent cyclist in that he did proceed when the road was not completely clear."

Except that the Judge did not state how he could do more? Other than sounding a horn, shouting, braking and steering away which he was already doing. What else could he have done? As she stepped out in front on him, looking down at her phone, when the crossing light was red, and then she panicked and ran straight into his path that he'd swerved to avoid her. A fact that multiple witnesses confirm. Are we required to be mind readers now.

Less than 20 feet away

As to claims by some people that he should have braked. The cyclist was less than 20 ft away from her when she walked out. The stopping distance for a well maintained bike with an alert rider on a dry road travelling at 15mph is 26ft of which 15ft is thinking distance while the braking distance is 11ft. Obviously actual stopping distances will vary considerably depending on condition of the road (It was a damp day) and the cycle as well as the alertness of the rider. At 20mph it is 40ft. There is limit to how hard you brake before Newton's laws of momentum come into a effect. The rider has momentum. Newton's first law tells you that an object wants to keep going in a straight line until acted on by an external force.

 The difference between a car and a bike is that a bike has the centre of mass compared to the base higher than that of a car (a man is much heavier than the bike itself). So if you brake the front wheel of a bike, the braking force is much stronger than the back wheel. High centre of mass also explains for the fact that one can easily fly over the handlebar when he/she used the front brake. It creates a torque with the point that the front wheel contacts with the road as the pivot. Then, all your momentum is transferred into a rotational movement about the wheel, the centre of the virtual circle would be the point where the wheel contacts the ground.

Not barging through

If the cyclist is only thrown off and the bike is stationary and remains so, then mass (of combined bike and human)  velocity = mass of human new velocity. As in most cases the cyclist had only two choices go in front or behind as the braking distance was too short. The normal thing to do is go behind, yet in this case she turned round and ran straight into his path that he'd swerved to avoid her. He was not barging though as claimed.

This is why shared pavements so beloved of Sustrans and council highway departments are so dangerous to use. Councils love them as they are cheap to make as all it needs is a sign. It is not done for the benefit of cyclists but to impress voters, in this case the pavement rider and the car driver. Message being to pavement rider being vote for me, you can ride on this pavement now and to the car driver vote for me I got these cyclists off your road.

Poorly designed

Most cycle paths are poorly built and badly designed as well. These shared paths are dangerous at any speed above 5mph. Councils decline to listen to reason when it comes to these paths. CaRT is just as bad with shared towpaths. It listens to the pavement riders' groups like CamCycle, Sustrans, who like shared pavements and support the building of them, Yet not to groups like the BCF and the CTC who reject them for what they are .

Our judiciary seem to be totally arbitrary when it comes to handing down judgements. I remember there was a case a year or so ago where a person was knocked down on a crossing by a motorist in Dorset. The motorist was exonerated on the basis that the person crossing should have looked first to make sure that approaching motorists recognised that the person was about to use the crossing and that they had slowed accordingly indicating acknowledgement that the person was there. I cannot therefore reconcile these two cases. Why should a cyclist be expected to 'be prepared for people to behave unexpectedly' when a motorist is not?

The only winners here are ambulance chasing lawyers, from now on you have to expect compo-hunters taking a dive in front of you.

(Sent from the floating office of Kelvin Alexander-Duggan.)