The Cyclists’ Defence Fund has welcomed a last-minute decision not to prosecute cyclist Kristian Gregory for allegedly straying slightly over a white line on a poorly designed and unclearly signed pavement cycle track.
Gregory was stopped and fined on 3 July 2014 by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) taking part in the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Safeway. This operation took place after a horrific spate of six London cyclists’ deaths in 13 days during November 2013. Between then and last July, the Met issued £50 fines to nearly 10,000 cyclists. Gregory has since stood for and been elected to CTC Council to represent CTC’s members in London.
Later that day, Gregory published his helmet-camera footage of the incident, showing how he had moved to the right hand side of the pavement as he approached a cycle track crossing of the New Kent Road, south London. The PCSO fined him, saying that he had moved across the white line too early.
h4. Prosecution ‘not in public interest’
However, CTC’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) stepped in to support Gregory’s claim that prosecuting him was not in the public interest and that the contradictory signing at this location makes it impossible to tell what is legal – or indeed whether cyclists have any legal right to use the signed crossing at all. His case was due to be heard tomorrow (5 February) by Bexley Magistrates Court. However the CPS wrote to him yesterday, saying it was discontinuing the case, having accepted that it was “not in the public interest”.
h4. Rising casualties and falling standards
The decision comes as new Government figures show a 4% increase in road crash injuries in the year to September 2014, compared with the same period a year earlier. Serious injuries over this period increased by 5% and deaths by 1%. Cyclists fared worse, with an 8% increase in fatal and serious injuries. Comparisons with past years indicate that, even allowing for increased cycle use, the risk per mile of suffering a cycling injury (and particularly a serious injury) has now been increasing since about 2008.
h4. Stark contrast with Mason case
The CPS’s initial decision to prosecute Gregory, despite objections from the local councillor in charge of transport, is in stark contrast to the legal system’s response to the death of cyclist Michael Mason (70).
Mason was hit from behind by a car on Regent Street on 23 February 2014, dying 19 days later. Despite the driver admitting at inquest that she could not explain her failure to see him when he was right in front of her, the police have not referred the case to the CPS. While correspondence is still ongoing with the police and CPS, CDF has now launched a £30,000 funding appeal in preparation for a possible legal challenge.
h4. Sharp criticism of police and CPS
Meanwhile an inspectorate ‘watchdog’ report sharply criticised the police and CPS yesterday over their handling of fatal road crash cases. It particularly highlighted a lack of training for CPS staff and inadequacies in the provision of victim support.
This article was originally written by CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Director, Roger Geffen, for the CTC website. The original can be found here.