A road.cc reader has said that the decision of magistrates to acquit a driver filmed making a very close pass on him at speed on a careless driving charge has left him “flabbergasted.”
We featured the video, shot by Rendel Harris while out on a bike ride with his wife in southwest London, on our Near Miss of the Day series back in February this year.
Rendel updated us on the outcome of the case after attending court as a witness on Monday.
He told us that the driver “was acquitted by the magistrates on the grounds that ‘there is insufficient evidence to prove the case of careless driving’.
“The defendant relied on a number of points to make his case, amongst them that I definitely made no checks behind me whatsoever, even though you can see from my shadow on the video (and the prosecuting solicitor pointed out) that I made at least three clear headchecks prior to signalling and carefully beginning to pull across the road (something the defendant chose to characterised as ‘veering wildly into my right of way’).
“The defendant also claimed that my (admittedly fruity, but then I get like that when people try to kill me) bad language after the incident proved that I was in ‘an aggressive state of mind and probably not fit to be riding a bicycle on the public highway’.
“But here's the real kicker,” Rendel continued. “He claimed that he was not, as I stated, at least 40 metres behind me when I began to pull out, apparently that was ‘completely untrue’ (he should have a word with Susan, who was 40 metres behind me at the time, and he was behind her), in fact I was ‘two to three metres ahead’ when I pulled out.
“Leaving aside the fact that I rather enjoy life and I'm not in the habit of attempting suicide, he admitted to the court that he was travelling at 30 mph. At 30 mph, a car covers 13 metres per second.
“As can be seen on the video, he passes me three to four seconds after I signal and start to pull out, so had I been 2/3 metres ahead of him when I pulled out, he would’ve had no alternative but to have hit me, it's literally a physical impossibility to (allegedly) dive in front of a car going 30 mph that is 2/3 metres behind one and for the car either to stop or evade one, he would've had to react in 0.25 of a second to do that.
“The fact that it took him four seconds to catch up with me and make such a ridiculous close pass proves that he was shamelessly lying. Unbelievable.”
Rendel added: “Many thanks to the Metropolitan Police traffic office for bringing the prosecution, and to the prosecuting solicitor who did a very good job of presenting the evidence, why the magistrates chose to ignore it in toto is a matter for them.
“It does make one wonder if it's actually worth sending in any evidence if this is going to be the result; I suppose I will have to invest in a rear-facing camera as well if magistrates are so incapable of judging on the clear physical evidence placed before them!”
Clearly it’s a frustrating outcome not just for Rendel and his wife, but also for the investigating officers who deemed the close pass bad enough to refer it to the Crown Prosecution Service, and for the prosecutors who took the case to court; another day, and another court, and we suspect the verdict may have been different.
Here's our original story, published on 28 February 2021 under the heading, "Near Miss of the Day 549: Cyclist nearly taken out by speeding driver desperate to overtake (video includes swearing)."
*WARNING: VERY STRONG LANGUAGE*
A cyclist launches into a string of expletives after he is nearly knocked down from behind by a speeding driver desperate to overtake him before he makes a right hand turn. The strong language is perhaps understandable seeing as the rider was just centimetres away from being wiped out.
Today's near miss video was submitted by road.cc reader Rendel Harris and shows him riding along Malden Road in Worcester Park, London with his wife.
Mr Harris explained what happened next and apologised for his choice of words but said "nearly being killed brought out some of my more robust expressions".
He said: "As I was riding along Malden Road, I prepared to move out in order to be ready for the upcoming right hand turn into Motspur Park Road.
"As can be clearly seen on the video from my shadow on the road, I made three separate head checks to ensure there was sufficient safe space for me to move out, and made a very clear hand signal.
"At this point my wife, who was approximately 50m behind me, seeing me signal, checked behind her to see if it was safe for her to start moving out as well.
"At this point the blue Peugeot was behind her; as soon as I started to move he floored the accelerator and swerved past me well in excess of the legal speed limit, missing me by a maximum of 20cm, probably much less.
"He also clearly put the oncoming car in danger as well. Sheer stupidity and spite.
"Apologies for the language, it turns out that being nearly killed brings out some of my more robust expressions."
Mr Harris said he reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police the same day and received a prompt reply saying the driver was being sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution.
However, when he tried to follow up on the outcome this month he said he was told 'no further details will be provided whether the case is active or not'.
Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.
If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.
If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).
Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.