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Driver gets six-month prison sentence after aiming car at London commuter

This picture, submitted to our road.cc readers’ rides group on photo-sharing website Flickr a couple of months ago, is an arresting one, enough to give pause for thought to any cyclist. A carbon road frame snapped into pieces, the front wheel almost bereft of spokes. Frame or spoke failure, perhaps? The truth is much more troubling.

One morning last September, a road.cc reader who on Flickr goes by the name TchmilFan – given the traumatic circumstances, we’ve agreed to respect his anonymity – was riding to work through West London when he was involved in an exchange with a car driver that he describes as “a pretty run-of-the-mill commuting incident up until he decided to carry on driving.”

We’ll let TchmilFan take the story up: “During morning rush hour, coming up to Holland Park roundabout from Shepherds Bush, going up the empty nearside lane, the stereotypical dark-coloured, private hire people-carrier pulls from a stationary middle-lane queue behind a bus into my lane without indicating or checking in his mirrors.”

He continues: “I end up in front of him anyway, still rolling towards the lights; he keeps gunning the engine and gets very close to my rear wheel. Stop at the line, unclip left foot – this turns out to be important - I turn and shout “Mirrors!” at him (no swearing or dodgy hand gestures).”

What happened next is every cyclist’s worst nightmare, and as TchmilFan says, if he hadn’t unclipped from the pedal, he might not be here to tell his story.

“He then drives at me and the bike gets pulled under the car,” TchmilFan continues.

“The bike is twisting underneath me but I manage to unclip. He drives off up the A40 spur road with the bike underneath sparking away as the Ti axle in the Speedplays gets dragged along the road.”

When the driver eventually stopped, it wasn’t to check on whether the cyclist was uninjured. “Apparently he stopped about 200m up the road to take the bike out and then drove off. I was told that the police visited his family, got them to call him on his mobile and told him to report to the station,” says TchmilFan.

He adds: “Many witnesses, lots of people saw the whole thing and were gobsmacked. All happened so fast that I had very little time to react emotionally and physically. I just had a few scrapes, lucky when compared to the road-smearing I could’ve had. I think it’s added to my increasingly jaded world view, lowered my trust of all road users (cycling red-light runners included grrrrrrrrr) and, since the last bike show, I’ve been riding with a Muvi video attached to my rucksack.”

The driver was sentenced last month to six months’ imprisonment for dangerous driving and banned from driving for two years; not long enough, it could be argued, for someone who could well have taken a cyclist’s life.

We wish TchilFan and all our readers safe riding in the future.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

21 comments

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jobysp [143 posts] 6 years ago
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That has opened my eyes! I think I'll curb on the aggressiveness.

Glad your safe mate.

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mr-andrew [300 posts] 6 years ago
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Drivers who act like that should face far more serious charges; the driver basically used his vehicle as a weapon to vent his anger, no different to a bloke reaching for a knife in a brawl - so he should be charged accordingly and face far more serious penalties.

Very glad no-one as seriously hurt though.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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I don't understand this:

Quote:

Police were able to contact via family him by phone and tell him to come in

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TchmilFan [19 posts] 6 years ago
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Er... that's me typing far too fast when I wrote the original reply to road.cc

Sorry (although naughty road.cc for not subbing it)

Let's try again...

Apparently, the police visited his family, got them to call him on his mobile and told him to report to the station.

(At least, that's what I was told)

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TRs Blurb n Blog [199 posts] 6 years ago
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I hope he got some compensation too for the smashed up bike.

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 6 years ago
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Thanks for clarifying that TchmilFan - we've added that to the story. So what has happened regarding compensation for your broken bike?

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Chuck [546 posts] 6 years ago
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Two years isn't enough- why should he be allowed to drive again after that?

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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I agree. Driving should be considered a privilege, not a right.

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LondonCalling [149 posts] 6 years ago
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"the stereotypical dark-coloured, private hire people-carrier": was that an Addison Lee car by any chance? I wouldn't be the least surprised. I wonder where do they get the drivers from!  13

Glad you are OK!

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Zaskar [133 posts] 6 years ago
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Glad you are ok and got a new bike out of it.

(I tend to ignore bad drivers rather than shout at them for that reason unless they nearly killed me, and wave thanks to the good drivers).

Still not an excuse to try and kill someone with a car the nutter!

For once they didn't get 6 months slap on the wrist! an actual jail term!

Did the press report this?

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TchmilFan [19 posts] 6 years ago
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Surprisingly, no. I think that Addison Lee just specialise in doing 50mph in a 30 and not slowing for t junctions.
But I always have expected shitty driving from any multiseater with the telltale sticker on the back.

Oh, "did the press report this"? No. Not a member of anything shouty that might have drawn attention to it.

I suppose I ought to do a thanks to Guy & Will Pearson at Pearson Cycles for their assistance and for referring me on to the solicitors (forgot their names right now, sorry) that dealt with the insurance claim and to the much-maligned Police and CPS for pursuing the case and getting, as they say, a "result".

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 6 years ago
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Good on getting a positive result and that the cops and CPS took the case seriously (for once) - it might be possible to take the guy to a civil court as well for an additional charge of distress or trauma. Incidents like this are traumatic. As he's been found guilty of the driving charges you'd be in a strong position. Don't be afraid to take further measures. The more charges and fines this guy gets loaded up with the better for everyone else, other car drivers and motorcyclists too, not just cyclists.

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dlp [51 posts] 6 years ago
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I can't really see this as a driving offence.

A brief internet search shows that the minimum sentence to be generally applied for an offence described as "Other wounding or GBH involving the use of a weapon that came to hand at the scene" is 4 years imprisonment. Maximum of 6 years.

A much less intense version of this has happened to me twice now (Van driver becoming agitated when I point out that he didn't see me in his mirrors although I'm sure he 'must have' looked, then attempting to run me down) leads me to believe the Police should crack down on this MUCH harder.

It is just not acceptable to behave in this manner and be punished with a minimal custodial sentence (at best) and a driving ban which is less than "for the rest of your life".

Thank goodness no one was seriously physically injured in this instance but it makes you wonder how many incidents where the cyclist is killed (and therefore cannot speak for themself) are actually accidents.

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TchmilFan [19 posts] 6 years ago
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His insurance fully covered the bike - but no cuts'n'bruises compensation. Mustn't get greedy, eh?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tchmilfan/3843184674/in/set-72157594550595253/

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MalcolmBinns [115 posts] 6 years ago
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Glad you got out alive.

No need to clog up a jail cell with this driver, but I can't see why he should be allowed to use a lethal weapon (car) again. Beggars belief.

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Recumbenteer [166 posts] 6 years ago
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What a bastard!

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shrinkinbggaz [100 posts] 6 years ago
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 31 Bleedin Eck,Not a long enough punishment IMHO

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handlebarcam [654 posts] 6 years ago
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These are the same sort of people who beat up their wives and children then blame them for making them do it. I stress sort because not all bad drivers are wife-beaters. But being behind the wheel of a powerful car/van, and enclosed in its air conditioned interior, amplifies tendencies that may never surface in other scenarios. Catch up with such a person, either at the next set of traffic lights or in court, and ask them face-to-face how they could possibly feel aggrieved when it was quite clearly their fault, and they'll doubtless be unable to answer coherently. That was my experience when a delivery man, paying more attention to his satnav than who might have right-of-way on a roundabout, almost killed me then, when I gave him the finger, overtook dangerously and brake-tested me. It was less than half a mile from my workplace, so I caught him up at the security gates. His response when I knocked on his side window was to reverse out and drive off, rather than have to verbalize his indignant rage. That said, if there hadn't been security personnel in close proximity I never would have confronted him, because if they really are psychotic, they'll get out the car and attack you. That goes double in the US, unless you want to reenact the ending of Easy Rider.

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badbunny [71 posts] 6 years ago
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after the shock, the shaking, the disbelief comes the upset and then the anger, the anger that one human being deigns to behave towards another in such an agressive and inhuman way. And then you are left thinking....what the hell?

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kace19 [23 posts] 4 years ago
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Good to see a custodial sentence for once/at last. As highlighted above, the fact the he will be allowed to drive again is clearly nuts, but at least he'll be paying a fortune for insurance when he does!

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fatbeggaronabike [815 posts] 4 years ago
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In response to cat1commuter who wondered why the police asked the family of the driver to contact them. The police do this so that the driver will then not get charged with failure to report an accident, therefore at court it appears that he is a good citizen.  13