Stronger punishments for road users who injure, including cyclist who hit pedestrian in Holborn
- By charlie@lcc on at 8:26pm 4 July 2012
- Posted in: News and blogs, Press, City of London
- Tagged with: cps, city, pedestrian, serious injury, holborn
- Boroughs: City of London
Cyclist Andrej Schipka was fined £850 plus £930 costs after being found guilty of crashing into a solicitor who was on a pedestrian crossing at Holborn Viaduct at the time of the collision.
Solicitor Clive Hyer suffered permanent brain damage when his skull was fractured along its whole length in the crash.
In a victim statement read to the court Mr Hyer said: "There is barely a moment of any given day that does not result in my feeling the impact of the damage.
"I continue to suffer from significant cognitive problems as a result of the accident.
"I am finding it difficult to make decisions, and suffering from an inability to process infromation if it is in a written form.
"In summary, I feel only 40 percent or so of the person I felt prior to the accident."
Crashes of this severity involving cycles are rare and, not surprisingly, the conviction has generated a strong reaction, with many people suggesting the sentence was too low.
Cyclist went through red at speed
The court saw CCTV evidence of the cyclist going through a red light at about 26mph as he rushed to work across Holborn Circus on 5 July 2011.
Schipka said, "I saw the traffic lights. I am sure they were green."
He also said he thought the pedestrians would clear the crossing before he got there.
Mr Hyer followed other pedestrians on to the crossing and then stopped in his tracks when the cyclist shouted a warning.
After the collision, the victim was unconscious for three days and cannot remember the crash at all.
The £850 fine is close to the maximum that a court can impose for the offence of careless cycling.
It is a much higher fine than is often applied to car drivers who cause similar injuries to cyclists (as in this case).
City of London police had hoped to bring a more serious charge against the cyclists, but the Crown Prosecution Service overruled them and only brought the lowest possible charge.
There are several aggravating circumstances that would justify a stronger charge: as well as going through a red light, the cyclist was also travelling much too fast for an area with so many pedestrians.
LCC has called for a 20mph limit for all vehicles in the City of London, not only to protect cyclists from fast-moving motor traffic, but also to protect the very high numbers of pedestrians that use City streets.
At this junction pedestrians have to judge the flow of traffic coming off the roundabout before crossing because there's no signalled pedestrian crossing.
All London cyclists need to be aware that pedestrians often move in unpredictable ways, and they have a responsibility not to endanger them.
Strong punishments for those who injure
LCC Campaigns Officer Charlie Lloyd said:
"The Crown Prosecution Service seem to regard serious injury crashes as trivial offences, and by refusing to bring stronger charges against road users who kill or injure others - whether cyclists or drivers - they contribute to the lowering of standards on our roads."
All road users have a duty of care towards others, and the CPS has a duty to ensure that dangerous driving and cycling are properly examined in court.
Too often these cases result in no prosecution at all, and drivers and cyclists should face the same level of sanction when they cause injury to others.
If a charge of dangerous cycling had been brought in Schipka's case, a fine up to £2500 would have been possible.
A charge of 'causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving' could have resulted in a much higher fine or jail sentence, and it also allows the court to ban the defendant from driving (a car).
This law from 1861 is still used against cyclists but not car drivers who cannot yet face jail after a non-fatal collision.
Sadly, the CPS lacks the confidence or competence to argue a case against obviously dangerous behaviour on the road.