Tuesday 11 January 2011


Motorist with clean(ish) record throws cyclist into road in front of an oncoming car risking life and limb, accepts responsibility.  Police caution.

Non-motorist with clean record throws fire-extinguisher off high building risking life and limb, accepts responsibility.  2 years 8 months in prison

I fully understand the need to make examples and to make others think twice.  Perhaps a little rebalancing of the criminal justice system to deter danger from motorists, though?  I would settle for taking just one year off the student protester and giving it to the motorist who attacked me.

Postscript 14th January: My unease over the balance of our criminal justice system is not ameliorated by reading today that two protestors who tried unsuccessfully to talk their way into the staff entrance of Buckingham Palace armed with political banners were yesterday remanded in custody for a week.


  1. Call a judge a "fool" and you get sentenced to life !
    They say "Justice is blind" , should have said "Justice is Stupid!"!

  2. Have just watched some "motoring journalist" on the Beeb yesterday banging on about "cyclists need to be accountable... I have NEVER seen one signal..." etc. That was his answer to why law abiding cyclists are dying and being seriously injured on the roads.

    It makes me so angry. I know I obey the law, I know others who do (as I'm sure you yourself do, Martin). So why must we somehow be forced to pay for the actions of others, and why is it everytime a serious concern is raised its the same old nonsense.

    Here he is:

    And he tirades at another cyclist on the radio, trying to goad the guy. The guy in despondency just nervously laughs, because he cannot win an argument against a bigot:

    This is the hurdle we must overcome before things will change.

  3. I was thinking exactly the same thing when I heard, "32months? you get less than that for killing someone with a car"

  4. Typical i'm afraid.... No doubt the judge thinks of cyclists as a nuisance, thus you have in some sense irritated the driver who assulted you.

    Why are there not mandatory punishments for given crimes with an additional discretion for the judge?

  5. @Toby
    There are mandatory sentences for certain crimes, eg life for murder. Another one is unlicensed possession of a gun. There are always cases for which these mandatory sentences are quite absurd. Eg, possession of a firearm, where people have come into possession of a gun accidentally, and were judged to have "possessed" it while on the way to handing it in.

    In this particular case, where by good fortune little harm resulted, albeit the action was reckless, mandatory sentencing would be exceptionally inappropriate, since there is considerable judgment over what is a reckless action. The law seems to have considerable problem over the notion of recklessness in relation to actual and potential motor accidents, so sadly I am not surprised by the weak sentence.

  6. @ Ivan

    Fair point... But,

    When the sentencing seems totally arbitrary it does tend to breed contempt for the law. Fair and seen to be fair is the goal I believe, or am i just being idealistic?

    The mororist in this case wasn't even charged. Perhaps if he had pushed a cycling police officer in front of a car it would have played out differently? I'm quite sure that it would have gone to court, which would have given us a chance to really compare sentencing.

    Keep up the good work Martin!

  7. "There is also evidence in court of an ideological bias towards leniency for motorists" http://bit.ly/i1kIoC

    And thanks for the Independent article. You are my cycling hero of the month. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cyclists-left-unprotected-by-police-and-courts-2179752.html

  8. Have you seen the #saveacyclist campaign on twitter?? im trying to help raise awareness and change some attitudes towards cyclists and road safety. Any advice you can offer on sorting out a petition for more severe sentencing for motorist would be great! @amyling on twitter, "save a cyclist campaign" on facebook

  9. I now see that sensible people are arguing that the sentence for the fire-extinguisher-thrower was grossly excessive. So perhaps not a good comparison.

  10. Martin, love your blog. Back in July, I had an Addison Lee minicab driver intentionally try to hit me with his cab (I have an independent witness corroborating this). Yesterday I received a letter saying he's being charged with "driving without due care and attention". Why is he allowed to get off so easy?

  11. @Matt. Because recklessness and intent are so incredibly difficult to demonstrate to the standards of proof required for a criminal conviction.

  12. It's a damn shame. I called the number on the letter the police sent, and they said they'd pass my details onto the CPS so I could have a chat with them about it. I'd be really interested to hear their rationale.