The huge media interest in the Charlie Alliston case (even the Guardian couldn’t help itself and used emotive language in its headline on the conviction) is providing a completely skewed and anti cycling bias. Internet trolls have been given free rein to let loose their views on blogs, twitter and newspaper articles. Even Mrs May has used the opportunity to deflect attention from the pressing issues facing the country by suggesting the law should be changed to allow cyclists to be prosecuted for similar offences as motorists. A not unreasonable point of view, one might be thinking, and I would have some sympathy. However, while the media lines up to throw the book at Charlie, I wonder what the family and friends of Christopher Gard are thinking. Christopher, aged 30, was killed by Lee Martin, a van driver with eight previous convictions for use of a mobile phone at the wheel. There are countless other examples of lenient and inappropriate sentences handed down by the judiciary of this country to drivers that kill or maim. Martin was actually sent to jail for 9 years, but he should never have been in the position to kill in the first place.
Should Parliament even be spending precious legislative time in updating the law? A look at the statistics from the Department of Transport puts the menace placed by cyclists into context: in a nine year period (2007-2015) a total of 24 pedestrians were killed when in involved with a collision with a cyclist (no fault attributed – i.e. the collision could have been the cyclist’s, the pedestrian’s faults, both, or neither). In the same period, 98 pedestrians were killed by motorcyclists, 1,391 by cars, and 534 by buses and hgv drivers. That’s a total of 2,023 deaths by motorised vehicles compared to 24 by cyclists. In the same period 282 cyclists died as result of a collision with a motor vehicle.
1 pedestrian death in every 85 deaths is caused by a collision with a pedal cyclist.
Cyclists kill 2.6 pedestrians per year in the UK.
Motor vehicles kill 225.
1 death is too many, and almost every death on the roads is preventable, however, if you were responsible for road safety where would you spend your resources?