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OPINION

“There are no winners” says injured cyclist after driver convicted (+ video)

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“One of us has some minor permanent scarring, one of us now has no driving licence for 6 months and is significantly poorer this Christmas”

“There are no winners” says a road.cc reader who was left with permanent scarring on his arm after a van driver deliberately knocked him off his bike in a hit and run incident – with the motorist receiving a six-month ban from driving and a hefty fine just in time for Christmas. In this guest blog post John, the cyclist involved, recounts the incident and its aftermath, which he also filmed in this video. 

I’m presenting this story here in the hope that the message eventually gets out to drivers that cyclists are dangerous, that they carry cameras and are not afraid to submit footage to the authorities, and that sometimes the authorities actually do take action and that the consequences can be costly. 

This incident occurred in July 2018 and concluded with a court appearance and guilty plea by the driver last week.

I feel awful for the guy, no licence, possibly leading to loss of his job and a considerable fine issued by the magistrates at a time when finding a new job and spare cash is not exactly easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m satisfied that the incident was handled by the police and that due process has now been served.

For what it’s worth, and I appreciate that some may accuse me of letting the side down, I did ask the barrister for the prosecution at court that if possible I would be happy without a driving ban being imposed, she thought he would be lucky not to receive a custodial sentence. All for a few moments of uncontrolled anger and stupidity. 

It happened on my afternoon commute home and came quite out of the blue. At the time I only carried a rear facing Fly6 but the back facing video pretty much speaks for itself.

There was no previous interaction with the driver, I was consistently riding secondary position and there is no issue with visibility. The road here is quite wide enough for safe overtaking and is a 30mph zone despite being designated as an A road, I’ve ridden this same route pretty much daily for over 20 years.

The incident should have been no more than your standard No-vertake, approaching a pedestrian crossing at red with cars waiting for the lights to change.

Initially the van starts with a decent wide overtake but then starts pulling in towards me, pushing me towards the curb and the side road, which was not an option due to a car coming from the left.

The van got to within a few inches of my bar end and was still angling into the curb so the rear panel got a single open handed slap, which you can hear on the video. We were both going pretty slow at that point due to the stationary traffic at the lights ahead and the situation was not particularly threatening.

The van stopped and as I passed I muttered “Bit close, Matey”, again you can hear this on the video, no expletives, no verbal interaction with the driver, I didn’t even give him a glance.

As I go ahead of the van, you can see how close to the curb it is. My line is just to the right of the points on the zig zag lines, an old motorcyclist habit to avoid white lines and the van door/wing mirror is well inside that line with the van still angling somewhat into the kerb. 

Thinking no more of it and with the lights having turned green I moved off following the cars ahead - at which point the van comes up alongside me and is then deliberately driven into me, catching the bar end and causing me to fall towards the side of the van and into the road where I picked up some reasonably photogenic road rash to my elbow and knee. 

A little up the road, the van came to a stop before accelerating away at speed. The passenger of a following car came to my assistance and provided a witness statement that I recorded on my phone. 

Police were pretty good about it, came to my house for a statement a few days later and took a copy of the video. Not super prompt, but they had been dealing with a fatal RTC on the other side of town that same afternoon so I was small potatoes in the grand scheme of people having a bad day on that particular day.

The police interviewed the registered keeper of the van and he admitted being the driver that day, claiming that there was a verbal altercation but backtracking when he was shown the video. 

The legal process ground on, Covid came and delayed everything but eventually a court date was set.

The driver initially pleaded Not Guilty which meant I had to attend St Albans Magistrates' Court which I was not particularly looking forward to - but on the day he changed his plea and I ended up spending a rather dull afternoon in the witness room without ever having to actually go into the courtroom. 

I wouldn't really hold that against him particularly. The law seems to be more of a game and victims, witnesses and accused are the playing pieces. I expect his lawyer recommended that he plead not guilty up to the day just in case the witnesses decided not to turn up, but then change his plea once we did and still get the benefit of doing so in the sentencing. Maybe they also made a deal with the prosecution over the two dismissed charges?

The defendant pleaded guilty to the following charge:

  • Drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road/in a public place without due care and attention

The following two charges had no evidence offered and were dismissed:

  • Driver of a vehicle fail to stop after a road accident
  • Driver of a vehicle involved in a road accident fail to report that accident

The sentence was as follows:

  • Fined £180
  • Court costs £620

Disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for 6 months. Discretionary disqualification. Driving record endorsed. Section 34(2) Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Thanks to: PC Alex Wheeler - Hertfordshire Constabulary

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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