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Cyclists’ Defence Fund considering lending support

Martin Porter QC, the barrister who blogs under the name the Cycling Lawyer, says he is willing to take the case of a cyclist fined for speeding in Richmond Park to the Divisional Court – provided it can attract the support of a cycling organisation. Porter believes Richmond Park regulations are so poorly drafted that there is a good argument that bikes are not considered vehicles, meaning the speed limits do not apply to them.

Paul Harness was riding down Sawyers Hill on January 11 when he was stopped by a police officer who had been parked behind a tree with a speed gun. Harness says he was charged with speeding and driving without due care on a bicycle and after pleading not guilty at Lavender Hill Magistrates, he was fined £200 for each offence, plus £200 court costs and a £20 victim surcharge.

Michael ‘Dr Hutch’ Hutchinson – who himself has a PhD in law and who has previously spoken to us about this very issue – has since retweeted a link to our story, saying that the Richmond Park speed limit almost certainly doesn't apply to cyclists. In response, Porter tweeted: “I would take that to the Divisional Court on 'no win, no fee'.”

Porter subsequently told us that he had previously looked into the matter “and decided that the regulations which apply to Richmond Park were so ineptly drafted that there was a good argument that the speed limits did not apply to bicycles since they were arguably not vehicles for the purposes of those regulations.”

Even if Porter is asked to pursue the case, it would bring expenses other than his fees – significant ones for a case that only resulted in a £200 fine. The support of a cycling organisation would most likely be required and the Cyclists’ Defence Fund is considering lending its backing.

For his part, Harness says he would be pleased if something could come of his experience. “I would love for some clarity to come from this. At least then when I roll down Sawyers Hill I'll know what's in store from the man in the bush.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

21 comments

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Nick0 [180 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

Where do we cough up a fiver?! I do know from experience that The Law is an ass, but this really is sh!tty. Rant over, for now! 

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Joe Swizzler [2 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I really can't understand how any speeding fine can be imposed on a cyclist when there is no legislation or requirement for bicycles to have a speedo fitted.

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zanf [932 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Quote:

Martin Porter QC, the barrister who blogs under the name the Cycling Lawyer...

Actually, its "The Cycling Silk"

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Jamminatrix [161 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Their argument that the speed limit was intended for motor vehicles, not bicycles, is a weak defense (if I am being honest). By that logic, are stop signs and traffic lights only intended for motor vehicles and not bicycles? Of course not.

The best approach is to win through technicality: Bicycles aren't legally required to have speedometers. The cyclist was merely riding within full control and what he thought was more than safe enough for the road conditions and his given abilities.

And what about multi-use pedestrian shared pathways that have speed limits? Clearly those speed limits are intended for cyclists, so his defense wouldn't work there. But again, is that limit enforcible if there's no legal requirement to have a working speedometer and the cyclist was riding within a safe manner of both himself and others?

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Jonny_Trousers [278 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I'm conflicted on this: on the one hand, the ruling and fine do sound outrageous, but something niggles about a cycling organisation defending a rider who knowingly broke the speed limit on what I assume is a public road.

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50kcommute [77 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

I got stopped on the bike for speeding on this very stretch, it's easily done with the long downhill and have since learned that it is common place for an officer to be at that point.

I was very apologetic and I received a warning email from the Met, extract as follows:

"I refer to the incident when the Metropolitan Police reported you for the question to be considered as to whether you should be prosecuted for the offence of riding a bicycle in excess of the speed limit in Richmond Park on the X X 2014.
 
This is contrary to Park Regulation section 4 Part 28, which states that unless the Secretary of State’s written permission has first been obtained, no person using a Park shall drive or ride any vehicle on a Park road in excess of the speed specified in relation to that road in Part II of Schedule 2 to these regulations.
 
It has been decided that the Police will not prosecute on this occasion and you are reminded of the need to comply with the requirements of the law in future. Should you commit this offence again, you are likely to be prosecuted."
 

At the time of the stop the police officer advised that the royal park falls under different regs and there's no speed limit for bikes specifically.  I asked him if he thought that there should be one and in summary said that we're a danger to ourselves more than others, so it was probably not necessary, but due care should be taken.  Also advised that I should join Kingston Wheelers if I wanted to go that fast!...(i don't ride for Kingston Wheelers, so a free shout out there)  3

 

 

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CXR94Di2 [1697 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Jonny_Trousers wrote:

I'm conflicted on this: on the one hand, the ruling and fine do sound outrageous, but something niggles about a cycling organisation defending a rider who knowingly broke the speed limit on what I assume is a public road.

He only broke the limit if it applies to cycles. There is a good argument that speed limits do not apply, so in theory at the moment he hasn't broken any law. An appeal to a higher court will sort out the mess , hopefully once and for all

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OldRidgeback [2776 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Joe Swizzler wrote:

I really can't understand how any speeding fine can be imposed on a cyclist when there is no legislation or requirement for bicycles to have a speedo fitted.

 

You've got it in one. The law can't and the judgement was incorrect. Let's hope sense prevails. The rider should've had a ticking off. Speed cameras are not calibrated to determine the speed of a bicycle.

 

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rogermerriman [114 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:
Joe Swizzler wrote:

I really can't understand how any speeding fine can be imposed on a cyclist when there is no legislation or requirement for bicycles to have a speedo fitted.

 

You've got it in one. The law can't and the judgement was incorrect. Let's hope sense prevails. The rider should've had a ticking off. Speed cameras are not calibrated to determine the speed of a bicycle.

 

 

thats not the issue, there are very old cars/motor bikes that have no speedometer fitted but are still subject to speed limits.

The issue with the royal parks, is the wording seems to say that the speedlimit only applies to motor vehicles, thus bikes are not subject to the limit so the logic follows.

 

have to say I'd want to know what the driving with out care, on the bike was for, before offering any help.

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Exup [45 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

This is a good summary of speeding law:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2014/jul/25/can-cyclist...

and here: http://www.astounding.org.uk/ian/cyclelaw/speed_limits.html

Should Mr Harness have been convicted of speeding on a non-motorised vehicle?

It seems that the 'driving without due care on a bicycle' was a feasible charge.

Why did this not get challenged in court at the time?

Why did the Judge not question the speeding charge - does he not know that only motorised vehicles can speed?

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burtthebike [914 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

£200 for each offence and £200 court costs plus £20 victim surcharge = £620 for an offence which doesn't appear to have offended anybody, and is probably more than you get for killing someone using a motor vehicle.

Put me down for a tenner.

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Prosper0 [96 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I'm afraid applying normal logic to road law isn't much use in this case, the road was in the Royal Parks jurisdiction. The Royal Parks is an old authority unto itself, with weird old bylaws coming out of their ears...

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vbvb [619 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
article wrote:

no win, no fee

Am I the only one wondering what the fee is if he wins?

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PaulBox [664 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
vbvb wrote:
article wrote:

no win, no fee

Am I the only one wondering what the fee is if he wins?

No, I was wondering about that.

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alexfoo [3 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Joe Swizzler wrote:

I really can't understand how any speeding fine can be imposed on a cyclist when there is no legislation or requirement for bicycles to have a speedo fitted.

In the same way that drink driving (above certain limits) is illegal without breathalysers or blood-alcohol measuring machines being a legal requirement.

 

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marcswales [33 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
burtthebike wrote:

£200 for each offence and £200 court costs plus £20 victim surcharge = £620 for an offence which doesn't appear to have offended anybody, and is probably more than you get for killing someone using a motor vehicle.

Put me down for a tenner.

 

 

You are R*****d B****n and I claim my £5!

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burtthebike [914 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
marcswales wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

£200 for each offence and £200 court costs plus £20 victim surcharge = £620 for an offence which doesn't appear to have offended anybody, and is probably more than you get for killing someone using a motor vehicle.

Put me down for a tenner.

 

 

You are R*****d B****n and I claim my £5!

 

Cheque in the post.

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thereverent [443 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I hope he wins the appeal.

Mostly because it would annoy some anti-cycling locals no-end.

 

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oozaveared [934 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
PaulBox wrote:
vbvb wrote:
article wrote:

no win, no fee

Am I the only one wondering what the fee is if he wins?

No, I was wondering about that.

 

It would be his normal fee for the hours worked and expense incurred at his normal rate as per the law council rules.  And yes he should claim that because the Royal Parks Police and the Magistrate harmed his client and should cover the costs of putting the harm right.  

 

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Jon Fray [17 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

If the Cyclists Defence Fund back this then I will stop my donations to their appeals. It's very clear what the speed limit is. I won't fund a "Mr Loophole".

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Bez [612 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

The Royal Parks have their own legislation, so the normal law about speeding is not the full story. The original 1997 Regulations applied to "vehicles", but the 2010 Amendment clarified "vehicle" in this context as a "mechanically propelled vehicle", which is a well established term that does not include pedal cycles.

But then there was a second 2010 Amendment, which revoked the above. Which that means the limit once again applies to "vehicles", and that normally includes pedal cycles.