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Specialists in Logistics & Transport Law - Call 01254 828300

Road Traffic Act 1988 – Deficient?

Kim Briggs, mother of two and loved wife, died in February last year after suffering from fatal head injuries caused when a cyclist collided with her.

Mrs. Briggs was walking through London when Charlie Alliston, now twenty years old, rode his bike into her. Alliston’s bike was a ‘fixed-wheel’ bike and did not possess any front brakes. The young man was therefore unable to bring his bike to a halt before colliding with the woman walking on her lunch break. Briggs died in hospital a week later from the head injuries she suffered in the collision.

For the benefit of those who may not know, a ‘fixed-wheel’ bike is the model of bike often used in the Velodrome and in the Olympics, it is illegal to ride one on the streets without first having it fitted with a brake over the front wheel. This is because they can reach significantly high speeds and, without a front brake, are rather difficult to bring to a halt.

Charlie Alliston was found guilty of causing bodily harm under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, for “wanton and furious” driving. The reason the Prosecution were required to use such old legislation, is because the more recent Road Traffic Act 1988, fails to have consideration for collisions caused by cyclists.

Now, the husband of the deceased, Matthew Briggs, is calling for a reform of the Road Traffic Act, so that it might better be used by the Crown Prosecution Service as a tool to secure convictions against Cyclists driving their bikes in a dangerous manner. Mr. Briggs, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today, had this to say:

“If this were to happen again – which I inevitably think it will – the police and the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] have a more coherent framework to reach for so that for the next family having to go through this it’s more straightforward.”

Mr. Briggs is in that sense correct, it would greatly assist Prosecutors across the country if they had a clear and explicit piece of legislation on their menu to choose from, as opposed to applying Victorian legislation in an obscure way to secure convictions.

The widower further added that this was not a “witch-hunt against cyclists”, indeed he himself has lived in London for 27 years and during that time has cycled quite frequently himself. The salient issue of Mr. Briggs’ call for reform is the need to quash reckless cycling and the use of the ‘fixed-wheel’ bike without a front brake.

During his trial, Charlie Alliston stated that he did not know that it was illegal to cycle on the road without a front brake, a defence both Mr. Briggs and the Judge, Wendy Thomas, have dismissed. Alliston was found guilty and is due to be sentenced on 18 September 2017.

Wendy Thomas has not yet given an indication of whether Alliston will receive a custodial sentence, but neither has she ruled the possibility of prison out. The Judge has thus far commented saying: “I have not seen one iota of remorse from Mr Alliston at all at any stage.” This does not bode well for Mr. Alliston’s sentencing hearing.

If you would like further information on the Road Traffic Act and how it affects your business call 01254 828300 and speak to a member of our team.

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