This made me sad on several levels

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MartinC
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby MartinC » 4 Oct 2013, 2:17pm

horizon wrote:if you were driving along and a cyclist had a wobble and fell off* (unrelated to your driving) then you are not at fault.......


No. The HC is clear about this. You need to allow enough room for you not to hit them if this happens. The cyclist would have to veer a considerable distance before your interpretation is true.

I also believe thare is some case law where a High Court Judges has determined that a cyclist is entitled to wobble.

This is, of course, the legal and HC position - not the perception fondly held by the average UK driver.

One of the troubling things about the case is that it appears that you can dispense with the HC and still maintain that you drive carefully and are not responsible for any consequences.

Edit: 'cos I added a bit.
Last edited by MartinC on 4 Oct 2013, 2:24pm, edited 1 time in total.

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horizon
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby horizon » 4 Oct 2013, 2:23pm

stewartpratt, martinC

No, I really meant unrelated. In this case however there was enough evidence to prosecute. IMV, and yours, she was liable. But the actual circumstances of the fall make it hard to determine what actually happened (even for those that were there). I'm just backing up iviehoff on this. Did she drive carefully and slowly past the cyclists and someone coincidentally had a fall? Did someone fall (coincidentally) into her path? Did she hit anyone?

OTOH was she going too fast, did she leave the cyclists too litle room, did she overtake on a blind bend, was she looking out properly?

My guess, as I said, is the latter but it is still only a guess*.

*albeit a pretty good one.
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MartinC
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby MartinC » 4 Oct 2013, 2:36pm

Horizon, asumming the reported facts are correct then, by her own admission, it wasn't a careful overtake. So we assume the court accepted this. The surviving cyclist reported how he had had to take avoiding action. We can't be sure the court accepted this but unless the road was very wide then this must be objective fact.

Legally the careless driving has been established, so has the death. The only possible argument is that the cyclist putting themselves in front of her car is totally unrelated to her actions - that, to me, seems extremely improbable.

As I said before I'd be very interested to see the Judge's summing up - both to see what the court felt had been established and if he set out the legal framework correctly for the Jury.

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Mick F
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby Mick F » 4 Oct 2013, 2:47pm

pliptrot wrote:
Mick F wrote:If we were the twelve on the jury, she'd be guilty.
No doubt about it.

Trouble is, we weren't.


That's the point - the odds are that the jury was made up of motorists, not cyclists.
That's what I've been hinting at.

Please do not think that I believe she's a guilty as hell and I have much sympathy and sadness for the families involved.

What we seem to be asking for is for a jury of keen cyclists to try people accused of killing cyclists.

Also, we weren't there, we weren't witnesses, we weren't involved, we weren't on the jury and not even in the courtroom. We haven't seen a transcript of the trial and we haven't seen the prosecution evidence or heard the prosecution witnesses. All we know is what we've read on the internet and read in the papers.

I'm saying that if twelve jury members find a NG verdict, we have to accept it whether we agree with it or not.
Mick F. Cornwall

Vorpal
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby Vorpal » 4 Oct 2013, 2:48pm

We don't have the information that was given to the jury. We only have the summary from a couple of news items, and our opinions.

Firstly, if she was charged with death by careless driving, the prosecutors would have had to show that it was her careless driving that caused the death. It seems clear that her driving was careless. It seems less clear that prosecutors could show that that was the cause of death.

The jury has to be certain, and there are a number of things that may make this difficult for them. Maybe the cyclist wasn't 'desparately trying to get out of the way' but only moved over in response to the inappropriate overtake. What if, it was actually her inexperience that caused her catch her boyfriend's back wheel, resulting in a crash? Don't think that I am excusing the driver's stupidity. I'm am trying to see it from the eyes of the jury.

It is clear that the driver should be held liable, even if she was found not guilty, but that will be a hard battle for the cyclist's family.

It is clear that the driver was careless, even if death by careless driving was difficult to show. IMO, the legal system ought to permit a jury to find someone guilty of a lesser charge (i.e. dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention) in circumstances where death by driving cannot be shown.

RIP the poor cyclist who died for someone else's stupidity.
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stewartpratt
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby stewartpratt » 4 Oct 2013, 2:52pm

Again: For me the issue is not the minutiae of this one case. To do so is to stare at a tree and miss the wood.

The issue is that in this case, as in many others, someone has died in a completely unavoidable incident, and the law has led to this state of affairs. What happens to the defendant after the fact is almost irrelevant; the damage is really in what it says about what is acceptable behaviour, both in this case alone and as the sum total of countless cases.

The legal process, by design and by implementation, continually legitimises driving which simply does not give cyclists, pedestrians, car passengers, other drivers, or even the driver themselves, a chance. People are dying through conscious acts that are avoidable, and the law says that is ok.

That's the problem. And that's what has to change. I don't massively care that Measures isn't facing punishment per se; I care that more people will be injured and killed.

brianleach
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby brianleach » 4 Oct 2013, 2:56pm

As many have said we weren't there and we don't have the court transcript so whatever we think is speculation.

What I found hard to take if the report is correct was the amazing arrogance and lack of any remorse at a wasted life or any contrition.

It would seem the tears only appeared when she realised she had got away with it.

iviehoff
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby iviehoff » 4 Oct 2013, 3:00pm

AlaninWales wrote:[Iviehoff, the fact that (as you say) "in reality more often than not people pass cyclists without giving them as much room as is shown in that picture" has no relevance to what should happen. Certainly I've been overtaken so close that the wheel-arches caught on my pedals and dragged me along at 30+mph; certainly I've been overtaken so close that by gently leaning my handlebars right, I've scraped paint and metal from the car's wing and doors: None of that and none of the excuses drivers use when they drive into cyclists or overtake too closely has any relevance to what should happen. Poor (i.e. dangerous, inattentive and selfish) driving and the acceptance of such in the wider community does not mean that "you can't really expect to provide for a cyclist suddenly falling across the road in front of you"; as a driver I can and do make such provision. The point the motorist killer made here is not "a fair one", it is self-justifying, victim-blaming ignorance.

You are arguing against a point I have not made. There is a big difference between the close passes you mention, and the picture in the highway code where the car is actually on the far side of the centre line from the cyclist, probably about 2m from the cyclist* (and much of my daily trip isn't even wide enough for the cars to give me that much). Normal driving behaviour is not as extreme as either of those cases. Most people would consider it to be reasonably careful driving to give a cyclist about 60cm in urban 30mph conditions and maybe 1m on the open road. They may be wrong, but that is what most people would consider reasonably careful, and that is the practical reality of cycling on our roads. Yet if the cyclist suddenly falls off just as you were about to pass at that distance, you may well hit them. Without any aggravating circumstances I would be astonished at a jury that found against the driver in such a case. We may consider that to be wrong, but that is the practical reality. It is all very well pointing at pictures in the highway code, but in practical reality deviating from the letter of the highway code is not sufficient for a finding of carelessness.

At the moment there are routinely far more egregious cases than this present one. Let us try and win those easier cases first.

*The wording to the picture says "give a cyclist as much room as you would give a car" - yet many people would interpret that picture as the cyclist being given much more room than you'd give a car, at least in terms of the distance between the cyclist and the passing car.

AlaninWales
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby AlaninWales » 4 Oct 2013, 3:20pm

iviehoff wrote:
AlaninWales wrote:[Iviehoff, the fact that (as you say) "in reality more often than not people pass cyclists without giving them as much room as is shown in that picture" has no relevance to what should happen. Certainly I've been overtaken so close that the wheel-arches caught on my pedals and dragged me along at 30+mph; certainly I've been overtaken so close that by gently leaning my handlebars right, I've scraped paint and metal from the car's wing and doors: None of that and none of the excuses drivers use when they drive into cyclists or overtake too closely has any relevance to what should happen. Poor (i.e. dangerous, inattentive and selfish) driving and the acceptance of such in the wider community does not mean that "you can't really expect to provide for a cyclist suddenly falling across the road in front of you"; as a driver I can and do make such provision. The point the motorist killer made here is not "a fair one", it is self-justifying, victim-blaming ignorance.

You are arguing against a point I have not made.
No, I'm not. You said:
]
iviehoff wrote:The general point that the motorist makes is a fair one - you can't really expect to provide for a cyclist suddenly falling across the road in front of you.

You can really expect to provide for a cyclist suddenly falling across the road in front of you. when driving that is how I overtake cyclists. Some get impatient with that but I'm not about to risk driving over their bodies. As a cyclist I've had cycle-parts snap on me, either from hitting a pothole or due to wear/poor construction (on one occasion on a new, custom 'bike). Sometimes that brings the cyclist off; no motor vehicle within distance, no great harm. Similarly cyclists may be inexperienced: As someone posted elsewhere - the 'system' has to allow for that, including training drivers to alwaysexpect that as a possibility.
]
iviehoff wrote:There is a big difference between the close passes you mention, and the picture in the highway code where the car is actually on the far side of the centre line from the cyclist, probably about 2m from the cyclist* (and much of my daily trip isn't even wide enough for the cars to give me that much). Normal driving behaviour is not as extreme as either of those cases. Most people would consider it to be reasonably careful driving to give a cyclist about 60cm in urban 30mph conditions and maybe 1m on the open road. They may be wrong, but that is what most people would consider reasonably careful, and that is the practical reality of cycling on our roads. Yet if the cyclist suddenly falls off just as you were about to pass at that distance, you may well hit them. Without any aggravating circumstances I would be astonished at a jury that found against the driver in such a case. We may consider that to be wrong, but that is the practical reality. It is all very well pointing at pictures in the highway code, but in practical reality deviating from the letter of the highway code is not sufficient for a finding of carelessness.

At the moment there are routinely far more egregious cases than this present one. Let us try and win those easier cases first.

*The wording to the picture says "give a cyclist as much room as you would give a car" - yet many people would interpret that picture as the cyclist being given much more room than you'd give a car, at least in terms of the distance between the cyclist and the passing car.

I don't pass cyclists that close, simple as. On a typical car journey the delay so caused is minimal - certainly nowhere near the 1 1/2 hours it took me to make what should have been a simple 15 - 20 minute journey this morning. Delay caused by motor vehicle congestion of course.
You can really expect to provide for a cyclist suddenly falling across the road in front of you: This should be the expectation tha all drivers have. See http://www.advanced-driving.co.uk/forum ... 629#p87629 for the fact that some at least do!

thirdcrank
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby thirdcrank » 4 Oct 2013, 3:24pm

As well as deciding guilt, juries have informal functions. It's said that juries reflect the changes in standards of our society, in a way that that lawyers and our betters more generally cannot. A jury is a sort of focus group. One example often quoted to illustrate this is now getting a bit long in the tooth but it's the trial of of the publishers Penguin Books over the "swearing" and depiction of sex in Lady Chatterley's Lover. The prosecutor, Mervyn Griffith-Jones asked the jury whether they would wish their wife or servants to read it. :roll:

In dangerous and careless driving cases, this reference to current standards is formalised in the Road Traffic Act. From its formation, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute people who collided with things and by extension, collided with people. Whether or not it was in the public interest to prosecute in individual cases, the public interest wasn't well-served by the subsequent decline in the driving standards of our society which this verdict reflects. I'm not suggesting that this is the only reason for the verdict: the implications of a conviction for this defendant will have been laid-on with a trowel by the defence.

Another informal function of jury trial is to enable all those involved professionally to keep their consciences clear.

pliptrot
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby pliptrot » 4 Oct 2013, 3:46pm

Nobody ever died from reading a salacious book. If the standards of our society would allow the driver in this case to be exonerated, then those standards have slipped so far that it makes that society utterly repulsive.

reohn2
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby reohn2 » 4 Oct 2013, 6:47pm

stewartpratt wrote:......The legal process, by design and by implementation, continually legitimises driving which simply does not give cyclists, pedestrians, car passengers, other drivers, or even the driver themselves, a chance. People are dying through conscious acts that are avoidable, and the law says that is ok.

That's the problem. And that's what has to change. I don't massively care that Measures isn't facing punishment per se; I care that more people will be injured and killed.

Spot on!
I've just comeback from a great ride,a great ride that is until a complete idiot in a Range Rover complete with fancy pants personal reg plates(always a bad sign IMO)who decided to overtake me on a blind bend on a railway bridge giving me less than 300mm(1ft) between his nearside and my right hand,I slapped the side of his car and he stopped wound down the window and said "I'm so sorry I didn't realise I was so close to you",to say I lost it would be an understatement.
the point is:-
a)why are such people allowed to drive something they can't control?
b)why isn't the law doing something to stop it?
c)what does it take to get things changed?
IMO we live in a country where such behaviour as this incident and the incident that the thread is all about,are common place,because it's the norm.The norm needs changing the law needs changing.
I wouldn't count on the CTC or any other cycling club/group/charity,etc,that I'm aware of,to attempt it on cyclists behalf,it therefore needs a new national group of all vulnerable road users to do it for ourselves.
Can someone point me to such a group or does anyone wish to start such a group?
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bikerphil
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby bikerphil » 4 Oct 2013, 7:02pm

Have a look at this story on the Lancashire Evening Post, it just about sums up the attitude towards cyclists from motorists
http://www.lep.co.uk/news/traffic-trave ... -1-6098677

dalifnei
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby dalifnei » 5 Oct 2013, 10:10pm

What a very interesting thread, the level of discussion and insight is one of the things I really like about this board (must be the exception on the vast internet, free from the usual knee jerk responses and personal insults).

Anyway, this decision also bothers me. The jury obviously felt that there was enough doubt that the driver committed the crime as libelled (although I have no idea how they came to this decision!).

However in terms of civil law, I would anticipate that the driver's standard of driving did fall below her duties to keep a proper lookout and drive with reasonable care, and that any civil claim would be very likely to succeed. Though the insurer would meet this and it won't result in any kind of justice at all.

In terms of the criminal act, what I cannot understand is the distinction between causing 2 cyclists to collide resulting in a fatality; and a poor manoeuvre causing a car to swerve into an other causing a fatality - which I am sure would have led to a conviction.

The observation that the jury merely reflects society's social mores is very well made.

iviehoff
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Re: This made me sad on several levels

Postby iviehoff » 7 Oct 2013, 4:38pm

(This post was in answer to Brian, but the quote I put in vanished when I posted it).

I see that what I intend is perhaps not 100% accurately reflected by a lawyerly close examination of the wording of the phrase I wrote. By "really expect" I mean "what standard is it politically realistic to expect to be able to enforce on drivers for the foreseeable future".

As law and practice stands, drivers in general do not expect to provide so much room that the cyclist can fall off across in front of them without collision, and they will not be prosecuted for it. There is ample precedent that they will not suffer legal sanction if they fail to provide that much room, though plainly there is a smaller amout of room that might be actionable, but I think it can be quite small.

You can wish for that standard of driving to apply, and apply it yourself. But if you want that to be the general standard of driving which should be legally enforced, I suggest you try to win some easier battles towards that goal first. That is why I think it is not currently politically realistic to seek to obtain it - there are some more egregious things which are currently not actionable, like running down cyclists from behind because you are unsighted by traffic conditions, mist or sun-glare.