Tuesday 13 March 2018 17:32
Should the UK hit drivers with a stronger punishment when involved in an accident with a cyclist? I was saddened to read about the unnecessary death of veteran cyclist Frank Cubis in Ealing in May last year [March 9]. I pass the spot regularly and there is now a white bicycle chained close by to commemorate him. Sadly, it has done little to change the behaviour of motorists in the area.
As I waited at the same junction on a dark winter’s evening recently, a car driver opposite suddenly surged across the path of an oncoming cyclist on the main road, causing him to brake very hard to avoid a collision. He was lucky that the cars behind the cyclist also managed to stop in time.
The last time I cycled in France, drivers gave me 10ft of clearance every time they overtook me. My hosts explained that in their country, when an accident occurs that involves a cyclist and a vehicle, the driver is culpable.
As a result, they pay more attention to cyclists on the road in France.
I fear that drivers in Britain will continue to mow down cyclists and pedestrians as long as they are aware that the worst punishment they will likely receive is the frankly pathetic penalty that Mr Cubis’s killer was handed.
Dear Mr Anderson
Thank you for your letter. There’s no doubt that cases such as that of Frank Cubis are far more common than the tragic collision between cyclist Charlie Alliston and pedestrian Kim Briggs in Old Street that sparked debate on whether to strengthen the law on “dangerous” cyclists.
The Government appears to understand that cyclists, like pedestrians, are vulnerable road users and much more likely to be a victim than perpetrator. Its cycling and walking strategy, published last week, seeks evidence from cyclists of the road dangers they face.
In 2016, there were 102 cycle fatalities in the UK. A total of 92 per cent of all casualties, and 75 per cent of fatalities, involved a vehicle. By comparison, a 10-year review of prosecutions of cyclists for killing or seriously injuring pedestrians found only nine cases.
You allude to the “presumed liability” system in France (and the Netherlands and Denmark), where the “more powerful” participant in a collision is found liable by default. Such a shift may be necessary to tackle aggression and poor driving standards on the capital’s roads.
Ross Lydall, Chief News Correspondent