Charged with manslaughter: Riding a fixie

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  • Charged with manslaughter: Riding a fixie
  • km79
    Member

    What bit(s) are you having trouble with?

    Spin
    Member

    I thought a front brake was a legal requirement?

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Bez, who posts on here occasionally and writes the various road safety columns for ST has been following this on Twitter.

    I’m calling bollocks on one part of it at least – one of the news items claimed he shouted at her to get out of the way twice. If he had time to shout then
    a) she had time to get out the way and
    b) he had time to stop and/or swerve, even on a fixie.

    I’ve hit a pedestrian once (entirely her fault) and I didn’t have time to brake, steer, shout, ring a bell or anything else. She ran out into the road from between two cars and BANG, we both ended up on the deck. If you have time to shout “get out of the way” twice (as one report claimed) then you’ve got time to avoid the incident.

    Willing to bet he gets a sentence of a couple of years and a huge fine – way out of proportion to what he’d have got if he’d have hit her in a car in which case it’d be a not guilty verdict. That’s only slightly cynical.

    Mowgli
    Member

    That’s what bothers me – if he’d been in a car with faulty brakes, or on his phone, or just not paying attention, it wouldn’t even make the news and he’d probably be let off. At worst (for him) he’d get driving without due care and a slap on the wrist – never manslaughter.

    Rob Hilton
    Member

    Reminds me of the woman wearing 4 inch heels (the relevance being control, or lack of) who told my 68 year old mother she should have got out of the way after she ran her over on a zebra crossing in daylight.

    shermer75
    Member

    I thought a front brake was a legal requirement?

    Yes they are

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    Depends where he was riding, on the road and she stepped out? Legal requirement is for 2 efficient independent brakes, a fixed rear wheel counts as one so some form of front brake is also required.

    shermer75
    Member

    I’m calling bollocks on one part of it at least – one of the news items claimed he shouted at her to get out of the way twice. If he had time to shout then

    I think the point is that he saw her in the road, thought he was in the right so he hit her anyway. Sounds like he still thinks he’s in the right, hence the heavy charge

    Spin
    Member

    The absence of the front brake is kind of an obvious thing for them to focus on but as others have pointed out probably not the whole story.

    Premier Icon Speeder
    Subscriber

    If she was in the road, the accident was her fault there’s almost no question of that just as if she’d walked in front of a truck.

    The legalities of a bike with no brakes can be questioned but the worst he can be accused of is failing to maintain a vehicle or whatever the “crime” is that can be associated with a bicycle and probably some contributory negligence.

    I imagine this is being treated as a n exemplary case to try and convince those that are too cool for brakes man, that it’s really not on. Fixie & no brake BMX riders alike. If you’re on the road on it you need brakes. Even if that’s a little inconvenient because you may have to do some maintenance or bad for your image.

    somouk
    Member

    If she was in the road, the accident was her fault there’s almost no question of that just as if she’d walked in front of a truck.

    I don’t think that’s really true is it. Pedestrians are allowed in the road without being run over.

    If she had walked in front of a truck its ability to stop would have been questioned and taken in to account as part of the charge also.

    That’s as bad as ‘It’s a dropped kerb so the car has right of way across a pavement’.

    km79
    Member

    If she was in the road, the accident was her fault there’s almost no question of that just as if she’d walked in front of a truck.

    What a load of shite.

    Premier Icon simondbarnes
    Subscriber

    If she was in the road, the accident was her fault there’s almost no question of that just as if she’d walked in front of a truck.

    Do you usually live under a bridge?

    epicsteve
    Member

    The legalities of a bike with no brakes can be questioned

    If you knowingly drove a car and hit someone and killed them then I expect you’d also be treated severely.

    I’ve heard some bollocks from fixie riders saying that a front brake isn’t necessary however having now ridden a fixie a fair bit (in the velodrome) I think it most definitely is. I hadn’t been expecting much but even then was surprised just how poor the braking capability is with just a fixed wheel.

    Junkyard
    Member

    If she was in the road, the accident was her fault there’s almost no question of that just as if she’d walked in front of a truck.

    There is a difference between being on the road and stepping into the road – given he claims to have shouted twice i doubt its a stepping into the road directly in front of a vehicle which has no time for the person to react.

    the worst he can be accused of is failing to maintain a vehicle or whatever the “crime” is that can be associated with a bicycle and probably some contributory negligence.

    as he has been charged with manslaughter and is currently on trial for this I have no idea why you wrote that.

    aracer
    Member

    Poor lad needs to get Janick Fielding defending him – I expect he could find some evidence that the victim was a novice pedestrian. Or do such defences only work when you’re driving and kill a cyclist?

    Spin
    Member

    I’ve heard some bollocks from fixie riders saying that a front brake isn’t necessary

    In this case it doesn’t much matter whether someone thinks it’s necessary or not, the law says it is.

    dovebiker
    Member

    No sympathy for the bike rider being a dick – if he’d seen her and shouted as he’d said, then a skid stop might have been possible / at least scrub off some speed.

    nealglover
    Member

    the worst he can be accused of …..etc

    as he has been charged with manslaughter and is currently on trial for this I have no idea why you wrote that.[/quote]

    Good point, well made 🙂

    I though he was saying that he did swerve, but she stepped back to avoid his original path, and into his new path. Not that it matters as it’s difficult to defend anything when operating outside the law.

    Personally I do think jaywalking should be a crime in the UK on certain roads.

    nealglover
    Member

    If this helps put a stop to all the arseholes riding around on the road with no brakes, then I approve entirely.

    one of the news items claimed he shouted at her to get out of the way twice. If he had time to shout then

    I think the point was he claimed he had shouted – the articles I’ve seen suggest he’s posted in detail on forums.

    Given they also seem to know he was doing 20mph I assume they’ve got CCTV and/or analysed devices.

    The only thing I can think of that puts this over the threshold for a manslaughter charge (presumably manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act) is having no brakes. If the dangerous act was his riding, then shouldn’t all death by careless/dangerous driving be charged as manslaughter?

    Premier Icon Speeder
    Subscriber

    simondbarnes – Member

    Do you usually live under a bridge?

    Ok I was being inflammatory but it’s a bit of gallows humour in the spirit of the Darwin awards because I don’t believe that paying the ultimate price for your stupidity excuses it. There’s no eye witness corroboration mentioned either way that tells us anymore of the story and we’re free to make up the bits in between. I may be taking a “stupid pedestrian” attitude and that may be a bit harsh (understatement) but I’ve also condemned him for being a f***wit who rides a bike with no brakes on the road and for that he gets everything he deserves.

    No-one sets out in the morning to kill someone and this lad has to live with this for the rest of his life, he knows he’s at least equally to blame.

    Ultimately the law will be seen to be done and he’ll be judged by a bunch of his peers.


    HERE
    ‘s a link to the nice, handy, easy to read, legal document that sets out what’s expected from a pedal cycle. HERE‘s something a bit more user friendly.

    How many of our bikes would pass a bicycle MOT? I know mine wouldn’t as I don’t have any reflectors but I’m damn sure I can stop when I need to.

    Premier Icon scc999
    Subscriber

    And if it had been a car driver killing a cyclist depsite having (apparently) enough time to avoid the collision – would there be so many people on here debating if it was the right charge?

    Of course there bloody wouldn’t!!
    He’s a cyclist but he also sounds like a total liability (as does anyone riding a bike not on a track with no brakes). The result of his actions (or lack of) is that a woman is dead. How is that not manslaughter?

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    I’m sorry if I’m feeling thick today, but no way would we be trying to excuse a driver charged with manslaughter and defective brakes if they’d killed a cyclist.

    Even by our usual jokey standards, I’m very disappointed to see such twaddle being spouted.

    B.A.Nana
    Member

    Some stuff like reflectors are for your safety, stuff like basic brakes are for others safety. Detail like this will be taken into account by intelligent people working on this case.

    Edit: Oi!

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    but no way would we be trying to excuse a driver charged with manslaughter and defective brakes if they’d killed a cyclist.

    I think the point is that in most cases where a driver has killed a cyclist (or pedestrian for that matter) the verdict is mostly not guilty or where found guilty, the sentence is insultingly low. Community service, a year’s driving ban, a token fine.

    There was a similar case a few years ago where a rider killed a pedestrian – little more than a kid – who’d been playing chicken (as reported by several drivers) and the cyclist got something like a £3000 fine. It was pointed out at the time it would have been cheaper to buy a S/H car, get it taxed and insured then go and run the kid over and claim that the sun was in your eyes…

    Premier Icon scc999
    Subscriber

    And you are aware of the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right”?

    aracer
    Member

    mrpottatohead wrote:

    Not that it matters as it’s difficult to defend anything when operating outside the law.

    On the contrary it appears to be remarkably easy:
    http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/delivery-driver-who-mounted-pavement-12782437

    From Bez’s article linked earlier – I’m not sure if that one was discussed at the time, and I wasn’t sure whether it was relevant to mention it on here (or whether to start another thread on old news), but you provided the perfect cue.

    I’m not sure of the relevant scale of offences, but I suspect that nominally at least driving on the pavement is just as serious an offence as riding without a front brake – it certainly appears to be a greater hazard. Yet it’s something which is routinely ignored and it’s pretty much impossible to get the police to do anything at all about it.

    I find that case incredibly frustrating – possibly even more so than the Helen Measures one which was my previous yardstick of maximum blood boiling. The defence appears to be that he wasn’t at fault because he couldn’t be expected to see her. Yet the criminal action was driving onto the pavement – that’s where the fault was in something he deliberately did, you don’t drive on the pavement because you might not be able to see pedestrians and that’s their space. How on earth can a death specifically caused by doing something which is illegal not result in a successful prosecution for DBCD?

    Apologies for going way OT, but I was given the cue!

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/06/woman-cleared-careless-driving-crowd-funded-prosecution-cycling-uk
    I think my point in this isn’t that the cyclist doesn’t deserve to get done, but there are way too many occasions when car drivers don’t get punished when they deserve to.

    Premier Icon scc999
    Subscriber

    I agree that the law seems to have a huge loophole when you kill someone with a car and that needs to change.

    My point is that this guy (from what has been reported) deserves to be prosecuted for manslaughter.

    Si

    This guy sounds like such an entitled knobber and I hope they throw the book at him – like others have said if it at least makes the hipster-fixie-no-brake crew stop for a moment and think, then there will be something good to have come out of it.

    While in a perfect world pedestrians will stay off the road until there is a green man, won’t be wired into headphones and engrossed in their phones etc etc, there is that and then there is reality. He needs to at least take some responsibility for the accident given he was riding a non road worthy bike in a busy area at speed.

    I’m all for having the back of cyclists who are so obviously not in the wrong but this guy is certainly not blameless here. This is newsworthy as joe public seems to hate cyclists … we need to keep trying to improve our image on the road.

    aracer
    Member

    scc999 wrote:

    And if it had been a car driver killing a cyclist depsite having (apparently) enough time to avoid the collision – would there be so many people on here debating if it was the right charge?

    I’m not personally defending the cyclist, and if he did indeed have time and space to avoid the pedestrian but chose not to then I wouldn’t defend him at all. However there’s insufficient evidence available to suggest that was the case (I don’t think BS spouted on social media counts as evidence), and it would be a somewhat surprising thing to do given that in collision with a pedestrian you tend to come off quite badly as a cyclist, so the situation may be somewhat different to what you’re assuming (you’re far from alone, it’s not a totally unreasonable assumption). That’s where the debate is. We need more information before we can draw conclusions one way or another.

    Though if you want to bring car drivers in, then as mentioned before they seem to get away with a lot worse than this case appears to be. Car drivers running into cyclists also don’t tend to be unavoidable in the same way cyclists running into peds often are – and an incident involving a cyclist jumping off the pavement in front of a car would likely get a similar amount of debate.

    If the cyclist is indeed at fault here, then he should be prosecuted, but I’d be interested to see the sentence compared to those for drivers who kill. Presumably he’s been charged with manslaughter because the standard DBDD or DBCD can’t apply to cyclists?

    jambalaya
    Member

    From what I read of the court case today I hope he goes to prison for a very long time

    @aracer I suspect if you drove a track car which was never designed to be used on the road and killed someone with it you would get quite a long sentence

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    I think my point in this isn’t that the cyclist doesn’t deserve to get done, but there are way too many occasions when car drivers don’t get punished when they deserve to.

    Ok seeing as though we don’t have all the facts I will jump to conclusions as well.

    Riding without brakes is bloody stupid (but in London it does appear to be a cool thing to do)

    He rode his bike at the pedestrian and therefore had intent. Having time to shout 2 warnings yet not swerving means he knew he was going to hit her.

    I could be mistaken but when many car drivers/lorry drivers kill cyclists it’s because they didn’t see them. You don’t hear of many cases where a driver see’s a cyclist, hoots their horn and then continues to drive at the cyclist.

    They get the appropriate charge which is driving without due care and attention etc.

    nathb
    Member

    I’ve hit a pedestrian before, the moment she stepped out randomly I was slamming on from 28mph (carbon wheels). I had time to shout, she had headphones in and never once looked in my direction. I pretended to be okay at the scene, after the pedestrian got up and was thankfully okay. But I actually cycled around the corner and sat down for half an hour shaking..it’s not a nice experience but I’ve never considered it to be a life threatening thing before!!

    Riding around London it’s mental how little people care when crossing the road, almost taking it for granted that road traffic will move around them. The worst one I have encountered is Beak Street.

    I don’t think anyone can really comment on this without seeing all the facts and CCTV etc.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    There’s some bollocks and assumptions above (the standout comment in both cases being Speeder’s first sentence) but I try to be good these days and not comment much until the verdict is given.

    However, one of the things that leads to a number of things above being a matter of assumption is what details haven’t been reported. The media handling of this one is particularly interesting (and is up for discussion while the trial is ongoing). For the most part it appears to be centrally reported by the Press Association, so the coverage is pretty well managed and you’ll notice high consistency across most of the publishing houses. In addition there has been a curious push by Trinity Mirror to recycle last year’s “Cyclists’ Highway Code” news over the last week across multiple titles (thus ensuring several days of coverage), along with a handful of other recycled articles. And, of course, in the run-up to this trial there has also been a lot of leverage of the Putney jogger incident to drive a clear anti-cycling narrative across various media outlets. Pay attention to what is and what isn’t reported.

    Related tweet: https://twitter.com/beztweets/status/870273187749277697

    bigrich
    Member

    there’s people who ride fixies because they are track riders and are awesome at bikes, and then you have people who ride fixies because they are fashionable and can’t ride for sh!t.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    I could be mistaken but when many car drivers/lorry drivers kill cyclists it’s because they didn’t see them. You don’t hear of many cases where a driver see’s a cyclist, hoots their horn and then continues to drive at the cyclist.

    I can think of some off the top of my head where drivers have seen a cyclist and still driven into them due to an apparently conscious decision, eg:

    1. Kevin Wilson was, according to the sherriff, aware of Richard Beer ahead of him, but chose to wash his windscreen as he approached him and drove into him, causing fatal injuries. He was not charged with causing Beer’s death and was fined £150.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12018037.Driver_fined_over_fly_smear_crash_which_killed_cyclist/

    2. Joseph Reed “claimed in his police interview he had seen the cyclist [Sean Ruff], but there was too much traffic in lane two for him to pull out, and too much traffic behind for him to stop” (thus implying that he chose to drive a truck into a cyclist rather than risk a motor vehicle collision). He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and received a suspended sentence and a driving ban which was roughly in line with the average for causing a cyclist fatality (two and a half years).

    http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/crime/11018855._/

    The following case involves a driver seeing a pedestrian but assuming she would not step out, and then using the horn:

    3. Gerald Barfoot saw a woman cross to the centre of the road but assumed she would stop and drove accordingly, then when it was too late to avoid her honked his horn and braked. He was cleared of causing death by careless driving.

    http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/norwich-bus-driver-in-court-charged-with-careless-driving-over-pedestrian-death-1-4596111

    And the following very recent case also involves a driver seeing someone and assuming they would make no error, rather than anticipating it.

    4. Christopher Cook saw a man at the side of the road and assumed he would not cross, but he did. He was cleared of causing death by careless driving.

    http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/farnham-weybourne-wildwood-aldershot-verdict-13466021

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