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Tougher sentences call for cyclists who cause serious crashes

Victim’s mother wants a change in the law after losing her son to a ‘unique crash’ with a cyclist who also suffered significant life-changing injuries

The mother of a motorcyclist who died following a collision with a cyclist has said that she wants to see tougher sentences for cyclists that are similar to sentences available to drivers of motor vehicles.

Last year, we reported that cyclist Garry Kopanycia-Reynolds was found guilty of riding a cycle on a road carelessly without reasonable consideration for others after colliding with Callum Clements in Poole, Dorset, in December 2021. 

Now, Bournemouth Echo has reported that the 23-year old maintenance gardener's mother is now calling for a change in the law after the court handed the 60-year old cyclist a maximum penalty available of £1,000.

Kopanycia-Reynolds was pulling across the Shah of Persia Crossroads in Poole, Dorset in December 2021, when he collided with Clements, who had a green light.

> Cyclist found guilty of riding carelessly in crash which killed motorcyclist

During a trial in November, the judge ruled that Clements had the right of way and Kopanycia-Reynolds failed to properly check the road was clear at the traffic light junction when he went to turn right. As well as the maximum penalty for his crime, Kopanycia-Reynolds was ordered by Poole magistrates to pay £450 costs and a victim surcharge of £190.

Mr Clements’s mother Fiona is now pressing for similar court sentences to be available for cyclists as those who drive motor vehicles. At present, offences for cyclists who are deemd to be at fault in crashes differ to those driving motor vehicles.

“It just feels to me like Callum has been let down, like his life did not matter,” Miss Clements said.

“My goal is to make sure this does not happen again because the trauma of the whole thing itself and then it is like you are reliving that trauma and to have nothing at the end of it,” she said. “Even if it helps just one other family, it would be worth it.”

> Grant Shapps calls for new ‘death by dangerous cycling’ law

However, Miss Clements also mentioned that her son’s crash was ‘unique’. It was also noted that the cyclist suffered significant life-changing injuries as a result of the crash.

During the ruling, prosecutor Stuart Ellacott told the court that while Mr Clements was riding at 40mph in a 30mph zone at the time of the crash, the excess speed could not be used as part of the cyclist’s defence as the road the motorcyclist was travelling on was visible for 150 metres from the centre of the crossroads.

“Either the defendant failed to see Mr Clements, who was there to be seen over a distance of some 150 metres for a period of some seven seconds, or he saw him and decided to risk making the turn following the vehicle in front of him and not pausing and misjudging his ability to make that turn,” Ellacott said.

When questioned as to why he made the right-hand turn with the motorcyclist approaching, Mr Kopanycia-Reynolds – a keen cyclist who knew that particular road “pretty much off by heart” – replied: “I made that turn because I obviously felt that I had the space and time to make that safe manoeuvre.”

“I would not have attempted it unless I would have made it safely.”

He also told the court that he was “totally” sure that the manoeuvre was safe and that he had seen the motorcyclist’s lights coming from the opposite direction but believed that they “were in the distance”.

Police Constable Leanne Howes, of Dorset Police’s serious collision investigation team, said, “This is a demonstration of the truly awful consequences that can be caused by any road user failing to pay sufficient care and attention.”

Recently, London Mayor Sadiq Khan had pledged to “raise awareness” among London cyclists to stop stop at zebra crossings in accordance with the Highway Code, for improving the safety of floating bus stops.

“We need to not just raise awareness, we need to try and ensure there is enforcement as well,” he said last week at the Mayor Question Time, when asked about how was he planning to improve the pedestrian-cyclists interaction in places like floating bus stops.

He added: “What I am willing to do, and what I think we must do, is look into safety concerns raised by not just those who are visually impaired but others to make sure, in the quest to make cyclists safe, we don’t inadvertently, because a minority of cyclists aren’t following the rules, endanger others.”

Last year, the former Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps called for new ‘death by dangerous cycling’ law, intends to introduce harsher penalties for people on bikes who kill or injure others through “dangerous cycling”. However, such a bill is yet to be put through to the Parliament.

> "Where is the effort being put into dangerous driving which kills, maims and destroys lives?": All the reaction to government plan to introduce death by dangerous cycling law

Adwitiya joined in 2023 after finishing his masters in Journalism from Cardiff University, with a dissertation focusing on active travel. He's currently living in Cardiff and for the most part moans about the abruptly ending cycle lanes, if he's not cursing the headwind. Adwitiya also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes dabbles in topics related to science, tech and the environment. Cycling became a part of his life just a couple of years ago, and now he can't think of a single reason why anyone would drive if they could cycle. He usually uses his bike for commuting, but he also loves excursions on the Taff trail, however never underestimate his ability to find an excuse to watch something on GCN instead.

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