Dear fellow members                                              24 March 2014

Excellent response to my plea for ride organising volunteers. Thanks to Tessa and Sue and to Helen.

We are now looking for a couple of offers for the May rides- and for any available date after, of course. I will be away until 6 April and not checking emails so please don’t worry if you send me a message and don’t get a reply till then. Of course, if you want to take on either of the May rides you can pop that in the “Future Rides”

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20 mph speed limits. Message from our Campaigns Organiser

The 20 mph campaign has been successful so far with the Sustainability, Environment & Transport Committee re-instating  Preston Drove, Surrenden Road and Stanford Avenue . The TRO orders have now been published . so we are back on track for traffic speed reduction. But we still need  support for the proposed 20 mph limits to be stated.

Please fill in the response form on the Council’s website for TRO-9b-2014 and TRO-9c-2014. Deadline: 8 April 2014. 

Tell the Council that these roads are routes used by children going to the many local schools. 20 mph speed limits mean greater safety and a better environment for healthy walking and cycling.You can alternatively email stating your support, and giving reasons as above.

Make sure you give the TRO reference numbers, and your fullname and address. Give reasons for your support.


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Bob has drawn my attention to this interesting item from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips”

A Passion for Rationals‘, a comic costume drama based on an incident that dates back to the early days of CTC. It centres on the clash between CTC member Viscountess Harberton and the landlady of the Hautboy Hotel in Surrey, who refused to serve her as she was wearing Rational Dress. The play takes place in Brighton from 3-5 May 2014

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Recent Court cases

I held this over last time because there was so much material for that issue. Back on 27 February Robert Garbutt devoted his editorial in Cycling Weekly to a very disturbing case. It’s worth quoting in full (apologies to any readers of the “comic” who’ve already seen it)

Pretty much every bike rider in Britain has been upset by the lenient sentencing of the driver who said that there was too much traffic to avoid killing a cyclist

Teeside Crown Court were told how lorry driver Joseph Reed would have seen cyclist Sean Ruff for at least nine seconds before hitting him on the A66 last May. but he did not swerve or slow down, even after the collision. He told the court that there was too much traffic on the dual carriageway to brake or overtake the rider, though witnesses said this was not the case.

Reed received a two-and-a-half-year driving ban and a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to careless driving. It is seen as another attempt by the Crown Prosecuting Service to avoid expensive jury trials by accepting guilty pleas to lesser offences. A conviction for dangerous driving carries a sentence of two to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Just count nine seconds. It’s a pretty long time to have had sight of the rider; or in distance Ruff would have been more than 200 metres away when Reed first saw him.

‘Careless’ doesn’t cut it. Driving a 7.5 tonne vehicle comes with great responsibility and having taken a life, Reed shouldn’t ever be allowed back behind the wheel for all our sakes.

Last week a CW reader responded to this saying “The question for me is not so much whether it should be careless or dangerous driving, but rather, when is it manslaughter.” Adrian Clarke cited the recent case of someone who died after being punched where the argument was over whether this was manslaughter or murder. He concluded

At some point, we have to test this in the courts. The current situation where if I attack someone with my fists or a knife I am deemed a murderer, whereas when I do the same thing with a car, I am not even considered a criminal, is illogical and must change.

How typical or untypical was the Teeside case? The same CW issue that carried Garbutt’s leader contained a report which –if anything – is even more disturbing, though mercifully in this case no one was killed.   Here’s the gist of Nick Bull’s report

A driver who deliberately steered his vehicle towards 24 members of the Port Sunlight Wheelers during a club run in November was jailed for six months. …….. The court heard how the 25 year old laughed as he drove his Transit van on the wrong side of the road in the direction of the cyclists, ……… Morris claimed he had swerved to avoid something in the road, but after initially leaving the scene, he stopped and reversed towards a handful of riders who had given chase in an attempt to obtain his registration number. Several riders suffered minor injuries in the incident.

You do have to wonder about the sanity of some people on the ride. There is of course no shortage of lunatic cyclists, often of the “madcap outlaw” variety like the one that crashed into me during his illegal charge down the Hove seafront last year, but by and large, in spite of such exceptions, they are probably of much more danger to themselves than to others. The reverse is true of cars, buses etc. Motor vehicles are intrinsically dangerous. We’ve all done daft and potentially dangerous things on the roads, no doubt; there is such a thing as a genuine accident. But the two cases from the “comic” are really worrying.

And on not too dissimilar a topic:

Cycling on Pavements

Last time I included Suzanne’s letter to Robert Goodwill and asked if anyone wanted to comment.   Mick did. Here’s what he said.

I totally disagree with Suzanne’s letter re cycling on pavements. I try and avoid cycling on the pavement wherever possible but there are unfortunately occasions when the  pavement is  empty and the road presents a highly dangerous situation Personally I would prefer to make a minor infringement of the highway code and remain alive to staying on the road but end up dead. or paraplegic Until we get an adequate safe system of road management for cyclists everyone has to make their own continuous risk assessment of road situations and I would certainly not condemn cyclists who ride for short distances and considerately (i.e. not carelessly or recklessly) on the pavement. The law has no difficulty in judging motorists who drive carelessly and recklessly and can apply similar criteria to cyclists cycling on the pavement in deciding whether prosecution is appropriate.

What do other people think?




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