A cyclist, injured after being deliberately rammed off his bike by a driver who had moments earlier close passed him, has shared the footage of the incident with road.cc and warned that the roads have become "very unsafe" and "attacks are becoming much more common", suggesting that cyclists need "more protection under the law."
On Monday, we reported the news that the driver involved, Sarah Torgerson, had received a two-year suspended sentence for the incident which was described as "like a hate attack" by the cyclist, John Crothers, the recorder telling the court she had "effectively ruined" his life after ramming him off his bike when he objected to a close pass.
Suffering whiplash and severe bruising, John's £8,000 bike was written off in the incident, and he was left thinking he had broken his back after landing violently on the kerb. Having recovered physically, he then had to overcome the psychological impact and reported suffering anxiety and nearly having a panic attack when trying to cycle again.
"I'm back on the bike now although I commute a lot less," he told road.cc. "I'm still a lot more stressed on the bike... it is my belief that Leicester roads are very unsafe and attacks on cyclists are becoming much more common. I believe it's time to give cyclists more protection under the law."
John was also critical of the sentence the driver received, two years in prison suspended for two years, along with a two-year driving ban and requirement to work with probation services for 30 days.
"I think a suspended sentence in this case is an absolute waste of time," he said. "Also given it runs out at the same time as her ban... this is clearly someone who uses their car as a weapon. I would have preferred a longer disqualification especially as this is her second conviction for dangerous driving.
"Also 30 hours of probation/counselling... the £180 pound fine... she would have got a larger fine for the initial close pass. There's been a lot made of the slap on the mirror, this didn't do any damage, the damage was done when she drove her car into me."
The sentence came despite recorder Justin Wigoder telling Leicester Crown Court it was a "very serious offence" which would carry the "right sentence [... of] three to four years in prison" as "cyclists are vulnerable and it's the court's first duty to protect them".
However, citing mitigating factors including Torgerson's mental health history, the fact she has two young children, and a doctor's opinion that she suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder that might cause "outbursts", Mr Wigoder concluded she would not be sent "straight to prison".
The footage of the incident, which happened on 2 February 2022, shows John cycling south on Loughborough Road in Birstall when he is overtaken by two vehicles, the second being driven by 40-year-old Torgerson, who close passed him approaching a road narrowing.
Moments later, as the traffic slowed, he caught up with the driver and objected to the close overtake, telling her that he had a camera running and had filmed the incident.
In response, the driver stuck a finger up at him and both parties continued on their way. Then, the driver forced her Ford Focus past, again very close to the cyclist who "reached out and banged down on her wing mirror".
Torgerson then deliberately drove into John, launching him into the air and causing a heavy impact to his spine as he landed on the kerb and hit his head on the road. The driver, who it is reported has a previous conviction for dangerous driving from 2007, admitted ramming the cyclist when she phoned Leicestershire Police from the scene.
John suffered whiplash and bruising, his bike written off and a watch worth more than £700 smashed. He also reported having to cancel a cycling trip to Mallorca.
"This incident felt like a hate attack on me," he said. "I feel hate towards cyclists is getting worse. We are people too.
"Since this incident, when I last went out on my bike I almost had a panic attack. I'm even a lot more nervous in a car, even when my wife's driving me. I'm not normally a nervous person. It's the fact she deliberately drove into me."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.