Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Open letter to Boris Johnson

Dear Mr Johnson

I was saddened to hear of the second cycling fatality at the Bow roundabout. The recent spate of cycling deaths must warrant a focused look at the current climate of cycling in London.

The attitude shown by the police, the civil courts and your own policies is indicative of a motorcentric society, and leaves much to be desired. For instance, TFL cited “traffic flow” as a priority over the welfare of cyclists in deciding whether measures were to be taken to improve safety at Blackfriars Bridge. This same attitude was illustrated by the police constable investigating the death of a cyclist who was hit by a lorry, who stated that he was “unaware of anything which could be done” to prevent such accidents. The notion that we cannot prevent the death of a cyclist by a lorry is unacceptable and inaccurate. We can restrict the times HGVs can come into Central London. We can change hazardous junctions. We can fit mirrors to the front and near-side of HGVs to avoid the blind spots which have caused so many fatalities.

The deaths from the London bombings on 7 July lead to strong action which whittled away our personal liberties by opening up the right of the police to stop and search, allowing the detainment of suspects without charge for 28 days and curtailing the right to protest. The tragic deaths of cyclists must carry the same weight as tragic deaths caused by terrorism, and action must follow. The lives of the Londoners who died in the bombings on July 7th can never be replaced, but the lives of the Londoners who have since died in cycling accidents could have been saved.

Yours sincerely

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cyclists 'urged to get insurance'

Cyclists have been warned by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) that they should get insurance. This is on the basis that cycling is a dangerous activity, which is fundamentally misconceived. In fact, it is more 'dangerous' to be a pedestrian than a cyclist. The majority of cycling accidents are also covered by some form of protection. For instance, ia cyclist is injured by an uninsured driver, or in a hit and run incident, they will be able to get compensation for their injury and financial losses by applying to the Motor Insurer's Bureau. Alternatively, if an accident is caused by an insured driver, the injury and losses will be covered by their insurer.

Realistically, the only times such insurance would be useful is where a cyclist is injured in an accident caused by themselves, a pedestrian, or another cyclist, or where a cyclist causes an accident for which they are liable. However, an accident not involving a motor vehicle is unlikely to cause more than minor harm, and the risk of a cyclist causing someone else damage is relatively slender and the type of damage is also likely to be minor.

Now I am not saying that such insurance would never be useful - indeed, there are rare instances when having the insurance would pay off. However, mview is that encouraging cyclists to get accident insurance has the undesirable consequences of reinforcing the belief that cycling is dangerous and may discourage people from cycling. Perhaps I am being cynical, but I can't help thinking that if more cyclists had insurance, it would be a natural progression for the ABI to lobby the Government to make cycle insurance a legal obligation. I am sure I am not the only cyclist who would meet this with strong opposition.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ground breaking decision in criminal court following fatal cycling accident

The results of the criminal proceedings against Alex Dexter and Lauren Mellish have today been announced, for their role in the death of cyclist, Steven Rodway, who was killed while training for a charity bike ride. The cycling accident occurred in Essex, shortly after 7pm on 13 June 2010. Alex Dexter pleaded guilty to one count of causing death by careless driving, one count of causing death while uninsured and one count of causing death without having a driving licence, and he has been jailed for 15 months.

Lauren Mellish was also jailed for six months to reflect her part in the accident, as she had lent Dexter her car, although she knew he was not insured to drive it. This is believed to be the first time there has been a conviction in the UK for aiding and abetting another person to drive without insurance.

Both Dexter and Mellish were also disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to take extended driving tests before reapplying for their licences.

Senior Investigating Officer, Inspector Keith Whiting, said: "Alex Dexter drove the car without a licence or insurance and with the full knowledge of the owner, his then girlfriend, Lauren Mellish. They showed a disregard for people's safety, with their actions resulting in the death of Steven who was simply out riding his bike on a Sunday afternoon. They have taken the life of a young man who was a loving father and husband. They got out of the car and made up a story to cover themselves, without offering Steven any assistance. I have never known such callous actions at the scene of a fatal collision. I would like to thank Marrissa and rest of Steven's family for the support they have given the investigation team. My officers have completed a meticulous investigation resulting in the first prosecution of this kind nationally. I hope this prosecution sends a strong message to anyone who lends their car to someone unlawfully."