A cyclist who was seriously injured when he was struck by a motorist, who pulled sharply across the road without looking “to speak with her daughter on the phone”, has criticised the decision to send her on a driver awareness course – a punishment he described as a “slap on the wrist” – after Warwickshire Police concluded that “a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits”.
Paul Barfoot was riding on Kenilworth’s Priory Road in July when he was hit by a driver who pulled across the road and into his path, leaving him with ankle, foot, and shoulder injuries, as well as a broken bike, Warwickshire World reports.
Following the incident, the Traffic Process Unit at Warwickshire Police told Mr Barfoot that officers had concluded that the motorist was “sufficiently blameworthy to justify further police action”.
However, in a letter sent to the cyclist, Warwickshire Police confirmed that the motorist would not face a fine or any penalty points, but instead be made to attend a driver awareness course.
The letter said: “While there is sufficient evidence in this case to justify a prosecution, there is no provision in law for a Magistrate to order such retraining and the imposition of a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits.”
Speaking to Warwickshire World, the cyclist criticised the motorist’s “inadequate” punishment, noting that he is still recovering from the injuries “caused by this careless driving”.
“The driver told me the reason they quickly pulled from one side of the road to the other – in front of my path without looking – was to speak with her daughter on the phone,” he said.
“I suffered serious injuries which I am still recovering from. For several weeks I was unable to walk properly or climb the stairs. I had my arm in a sling. My foot and ankle swelled, my elbow and ankle badly sprained, not to mention the muscle and tissue damage I suffered.
He continued: “I still have issues with my ankle, elbow, and cannot lift my arm above my shoulder, not to mention the anxiety I get when I travel on any road now.
“I am having to pay for private consultants, MRIs, and am under a physio to try and recover from the injuries caused by this careless driving.
“Since the incident, I have had to spend hours submitting reams of information to my home insurance in order to claim for my £10,000 bike which was written off. I am still waiting for the bike insurance money to be paid – and all she gets is a slap on the wrist.”
Mr Barfoot also claimed that he had to “push the police to investigate the accident to the extent they did, with me getting tearful several times with the traffic officer explaining how it had impacted my life.
“I spoke to the sergeant involved in making the decision and told him I was very unhappy with the outcome.”
Responding to the cyclist’s criticism, a spokesperson for Warwickshire Police said: “Following direction from officers, the driver has agreed to do a safety course as a result of this incident, which is due to take place in October.
“At the moment, until that course has been completed, this incident is still technically under investigation for driving without due care and attention (as, for example, if the driver didn’t turn up for the course, they could find themselves in court, so this is still being treated as an active case).
“We feel that the result of this case was proportionate given the circumstances.”
Earlier this year, police in Scotland also came in for criticism from a cyclist, who blasted their “appalling” inaction that enabled a motorist to escape punishment for an alleged hit-and-run, which the rider claims left him with a broken bike and “unable to sit down for a week”.
Cyclist Alan Myles toad road.cc in February that, despite contacting East Dunbartonshire Police around 30 times in relation to the incident, he only received two responses – with one officer even taking over six months to reply to an email containing the crash footage.
Myles also claimed that those investigating the apparent collision failed to contact two witnesses, and that an officer told him that, due to the lengthy delay in tracking down the motorist, the offence had been downgraded from dangerous to careless driving because “the driver couldn’t remember the incident”.
The cyclist added that he only discovered that the case had been thrown out after contacting the Procurator Fiscal, who dismissed the police’s report as time-barred – over a year after the alleged hit-and-run took place.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.