Tuesday, 19 September 2017

20 thoughts on the Charlie Alliston case

Charlie Alliston, 20, is an ex-courier who hit a pedestrian, Kim Briggs, 44, who died from a head injury sustained in the collision. Briggs left behind a husband and two kids.

Yesterday, Sept 18, 2017, Alliston was sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders institution but was spared a longer sentence. The jury acquitted him of manslaughter but nailed him on the Victorian charge of 'causing bodily harm by wanton and furious driving.'

I thought I'd post a few thoughts both as a driver and a cyclist who has spent ten years cycling up and down the great courier corridor of the A10, and all over London on other days.

1. The case has been sensationalised by the media so don't expect a reasonable debate.

2. The widow Mr Briggs is now on a mission to reform the law so that cyclists can be prosecuted, like drivers, for death by dangerous driving (cycling).

3. Alliston's own mother has said the sentencing was appropriate and we know he was a troubled young man who lost his dad as a 16 year old.

4. This doesn't change the fact that Mr Briggs is left a widower, determined to 'do something.'

5. There is a great public confusion there about so-called track bikes and fixies (more properly, fixed wheel bicycle).

6. I have only seen one single brake-less fixie in the past ten years riding all around the bits of London where they predominate.

7. If you ride a bike in a velodrome you have to remove all brakes. That is for safety.

8. The reason the law says you need a front brake but not a back brake, on a street bicycle, is because two-thirds of the stopping force comes from the front. As others have pointed out, this is why car makers routinely put disc brakes on the front wheels but only drums at the back.

9. Alliston's huge and indefensible mistake was not to have a front brake...

10. ...but a skilled rider can do better with the transmission braking of the fixed wheel than having a caliper rear brake, particularly in greasy or wet conditions.

11. The 'wanton and furious' law is archaic and has caused confusion. Alliston is accused of going too fast but judged to have been riding at 18 mph. Even in the most right-on Boroughs where 'Twenty-is-Plenty', Alliston would not have been speeding. Cyclists are not held to a different speed limit than other road users.

12. So we have a situation where Alliston broke a law that hadn't been enforced, the one about the brake. The law that would conceivably have prevented this tragedy, aside from Alliston's being aggressive or deliberate in his actions (it took the jury 12 hours...) is already there but wasn't enforced.

13. I would welcome bike checks like roadside Police insurance checks. Riders at night with no lights drive me mad (for instance).

14. Funny how all drivers speed and an estimated 100% break the 20mph rule on the nearest road to my home and it's never enforced at all.

15. A great law unenforced is useless.

16. London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has to find £400m in savings from the Met Police budget over the next four years.

17. A driver John Rafferty got 16 weeks in jail for deliberately driving his car into a cyclist and at children. It received tiny mentions in the newspapers.

18. I have only on extremely rare occasions seen road rage among cyclists.

19. There is something inherent to driving in a congested urban environment that results in pent-up frustration, because the car is more powerful than circumstances allow it to travel, and the driver has no outlet for their adrenalin.

20. THREE pedestrians killed in the UK from a collision with a bicycle. TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY TWO cyclists killed by collisions with motorised transport (motorbikes, cars, lorries), over 2007-15.

1 comment:

  1. 8. The law requires a front and back brake. A fixed gear will be ok for the back, but if you have a freewheel a back brake is needed.


Richard Lofthouse

Richard Lofthouse