What might be considered a “finally” moment in UK cycling, a woman found guilty of aggression towards a cyclists has been jailed for nine months. In one of the higher profile cases of aggression against a cyclist, British journalist Jeremy Vine recorded an exchange as he travelled down a narrow London road, legally occupying the roadway for his own safety – it was clearly too narrow for a car to pass him. The driver blared their car horn, then, when Vine stopped to explain, he was bullied, threatened, his bike kicked and then, after all was done, the drivers gestured a gun and shooting Vine. It got the driver nine months in jail – a sentence she appealed and lost.
Now, there are few (any?) cyclists who will think this is unfair. We all get this regularly and know how intimidating or frightening this sort of driving can be. That said, I wonder if this is a sign of a changing times in the judicial system, or simply a high profile case getting decent treatment while the rest of the lumpen proletariat will endure abuse with little to no help from UK police or courts?
A few months ago, a man was hit and killed by a driver who said she simply did not see him. No charges laid. The family filed as a civil action – and the driver was acquitted of dangerous driving. Three cyclists were killed in London earlier this year. Nothing of substance has happened.
YouTube is filled with incredible onboard footage from UK cyclists who have had frightening levels of aggression against them – including full on assault. At first, police said they could not use the footage as it was not from a police camera. Now they do a small act – the driver often gets away with nothing but a warning. That includes actual assault. Nothing happens.
The dire straits of UK cycling brought about the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group that conducted a review, this year, of cycling incidents and justice, through police and/or courses in the UK. It was a horrendous litany of abuse against cyclists given free pass.
Jeremy Vine is an exceptionally high profile person. The media attention that focused on this exchange was incredible. But, in all fairness, if this exact same situation had been offered by an everyday commuter, precedent says the driver would have been acquitted, or, at the worst, given a suspended sentence – if the police would have done anything, anyway.
While I am grateful for the conviction, I see no great comfort here. This is no indication of a sea change in the attitude of police and courts. They simply did their jobs properly because there was so much attention to the case. The poor plebs who ride every day will not have the same benefit.
All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group website here…