Home
Matthew Briggs urges for law to be brought up to date after cyclist Charlie Alliston convicted under Nineteenth Century legislation

The husband of Kim Briggs, who died in February 2016 from head injuries sustained in a collision with cyclist Charlie Alliston on London’s Old Street, has called for the law regarding dangerous cycling to be brought up to date.

Alliston, aged 20, was convicted at the Old Bailey of causing bodily harm through wanton or furious driving, contrary to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

He was acquitted of manslaughter in connection with the 44-year-old’s death, but has been warned by Judge Wendy Joseph QC that he may well face a jail term when he is sentenced next month.

> Charlie Alliston cleared of manslaughter of Kim Briggs – but guilty of wanton and furious driving

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Mrs Briggs’ husband Matthew urged that offences of causing death by carless cycling and causing death by dangerous cycling be created, similar to those that apply to motorists.

He said he wanted to see “not so much a new law as just bringing the current law up to date.

“If this were to happen again – which I inevitably think it will – the police and the CPS 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, who said he cycles himself, emphasised that he was not engaged in a “witch-hunt against cyclists.”

He said: “This is dealing with a specific issue of reckless cyclists and those people who choose to ride fixed-wheel bikes without the additional front brake.

“With the fixed-wheel bike without the front brake the only means of braking is reverse pedalling … That’s totally inadequate and we’ve seen that with my wife’s death.”

Under The Pedal Cycle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983, a bike with a saddle more than 635mm above the ground is required to have “a braking system operating on the front wheel.”

Alliston, a former cycle courier, had been riding a Planet-X track bike with no front brake at the time of the fatal collision, and claimed at the trial that he did not know he was breaking the law by not having one fitted.

Mr Briggs pointed out that not knowing the law was “absolutely no defence”. He also said he often saw cyclists riding fixed-wheel bikes without a front brake, and believed the vast majority of them were couriers.

“There’s a degree of a fashion statement around that,” he claimed.“There’s almost a fetishism around this.

“But as we’ve seen with my wife’s death they [bikes without a front brake] are potentially lethal, not just illegal, they are potentially lethal.”

He also had a message for anyone thinking about riding a bike without a front brake.

“I would urge them to read my story to understand what happened to my wife,” he said.

“Mother of two, the most wonderful woman, the most fun-loving woman, went out to work and didn’t come back because of this.

“Why would you take that risk with somebody else’s life, and why would you endanger yourself?”

In 2011, Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom introduced her Dangerous and Reckless Cycling (Offences) Bill, which among other things calls for the introduction of a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling, with a proposed maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, the same as applies to causing death by dangerous driving. The bill failed to get a second reading.

> MP's 'Dangerous Cycling' bill fails to get second reading in House of Commons

Following yesterday’s verdicts, Duncan Dollimore, head of advocacy and campaigns at Cycling UK anticipated calls that “laws on irresponsible cycling should be aligned with the laws on irresponsible driving.”

However, he insisted that the law as a whole needed to be brought up to date for all road users.

He said: "Riding a fixed wheel bicycle on busy roads without a front brake is illegal, stupid, and endangers other road users especially pedestrians. Charlie Alliston's actions had tragic consequences for Kim Briggs' family, and it was entirely right that this led to his prosecution.

"The fact that he has been convicted of an offence dating back to legislation from 1861, drafted in archaic language, will doubtless lead some to argue that the laws on irresponsible cycling should be aligned with the laws on irresponsible driving. The reality is that the way in which the justice system deals with mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users has long been in need of review.

"In 2014 the Government acknowledged this when announcing a full review of all motoring offences and penalties, but then waited three years to launch a limited consultation last year which closed six months ago, with silence ever since.

He added: "To ensure that there is consistency with charging decisions, and with how dangerous behaviour on or roads is dealt with, it is vital that the Government ends the delay, and gets on with the wide scale review that politicians from all sides, victims' families and various roads safety organisations have tirelessly demanded.”

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.

99 comments

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1202 posts] 1 month ago
12 likes

The fact is, had there been a death by dangerous cycling offence he probably would have been acquired as there is reasonable doubt whether the brake would have made a difference. And so Mr Biggs would be less satisfied with the outcome if the changes that he is calling for occur.

Avatar
don simon [1309 posts] 1 month ago
23 likes

People need to take responsibility for their own actions.

Why isn't he calling for a law that prohibits the use of mobile phones when walking, just to bring it in line with the prohibition of mobiles when driving?

Avatar
Rich_cb [369 posts] 1 month ago
10 likes
don simon wrote:

People need to take responsibility for their own actions.

Why isn't he calling for a law that prohibits the use of mobile phones when walking, just to bring it in line with the prohibition of mobiles when driving?

Does taking responsibility include ensuring your bike is safe and legal to ride?

Avatar
fukawitribe [1946 posts] 1 month ago
8 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

The fact is, had there been a death by dangerous cycling offence he probably would have been acquired as there is reasonable doubt whether the brake would have made a difference. And so Mr Biggs would be less satisfied with the outcome if the changes that he is calling for occur.

That's not a fact, it's supposition.

Avatar
georgee [180 posts] 1 month ago
15 likes

Correct it is supposition but you can't deny that killing someone with your car, and getting charged with dangerous driving get's you a pat on the back from a QC and a couple of points.  I think the CPS even buy you a cake and a bottle of sherry?

Avatar
hawkinspeter [946 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes

There most definitely should be a change to the law!

I think we should have a law to deny right of way to anyone actively using a mobile phone and being in control of their transport, whether driving, cycling or walking. If you want to have right of way, then look where you are going.

However, the law seems sufficient with regard to cyclists. There's already a law governing the fitting of brakes to bikes and there's a law governing accidentally causing death (manslaughter) which the jury found that the cyclist was not guilty of.

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [1429 posts] 1 month ago
21 likes

What annoys me about this is not the fact he got charged with something, as he obviously carried an element of blame into the situation but the fact the media seems to be creaming themselves over a vehicle doing 10-14mph at the point of collision because that vehicle is......a bike.

If I dropped below 14mph I'd be getting annoyed with myself but now I am supposedly pushing the limits of physics and riding with shear disregard for my fellow road users (who generally are travelling 2 to 4+ times faster than me and weigh 20 times more).

The fact that the guy does appear to be an utter twat doesn't help matters though. Some socio/psychopathic tendencies on display there. Pretty sure I'd be devasted if I killed a mother of two, regardless of overall fault, never mind going on social media to have a complain about it.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2799 posts] 1 month ago
12 likes

There are no winners in this case, but it does beg the question why motorists so frequently receive more lenient sentences for similar offences. This article gives a good perspective:

https://rdrf.org.uk/2017/08/21/the-charlie-alliston-case-the-real-story/

 

Avatar
STiG911 [277 posts] 1 month ago
11 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

What annoys me about this is not the fact he got charged with something, as he obviously carried an element of blame into the situation but the fact the media seems to be creaming themselves over a vehicle doing 10-14mph at the point of collision because that vehicle is......a bike.

If I dropped below 14mph I'd be getting annoyed with myself but now I am supposedly pushing the limits of physics and riding with shear disregard for my fellow road users (who generally are travelling 2 to 4+ times faster than me and weigh 20 times more).

The fact that the guy does appear to be an utter twat doesn't help matters though. Some socio/psychopathic tendencies on display there. Pretty sure I'd be devasted if I killed a mother of two, regardless of overall fault, never mind going on social media to have a complain about it.

Most of this. I'm having an argument with some berk on Twitter who's trying to tell me that a cyclist doing 18mph on Old Street is speeding. Speeding, ffs. Regardless of where I'm cycling my average speed is 19mph, so I'll go hand myself into the boys in blue, shall I? Piss off.

 

And I'll concede that the guy looks a bit of a knob, but on the other hand, at least he's being himself. How many people go to court all scrubbed up, wearing a suit, pleading all concerned and remorseful only to reoffend again a few weeks or even days later, like all those scumbags with more than 12 points and still driving?

Avatar
brooksby [2581 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes

If they introduce causing dangerous cycling and careless cycling then won't it just go the way of the motoring equivalents and the CPS will only ever go for 'careless' because that's easier...?

Avatar
brooksby [2581 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

duplicate post: network issues 

Avatar
don simon [1309 posts] 1 month ago
8 likes
Rich_cb wrote:
don simon wrote:

People need to take responsibility for their own actions.

Why isn't he calling for a law that prohibits the use of mobile phones when walking, just to bring it in line with the prohibition of mobiles when driving?

Does taking responsibility include ensuring your bike is safe and legal to ride?

Of course it does. Surprised at the question.

Avatar
fukawitribe [1946 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
georgee wrote:

Correct it is supposition but you can't deny that killing someone with your car, and getting charged with dangerous driving get's you a pat on the back from a QC and a couple of points.  I think the CPS even buy you a cake and a bottle of sherry?

Exaggeration aside, I agree with you which is why Duncan Dollimores sensible comments are all the more pertinent. (snip)

Avatar
Deeferdonk [42 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
Avatar
burtthebike [1114 posts] 1 month ago
7 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

There are no winners in this case, but it does beg the question why motorists so frequently receive more lenient sentences for similar offences. This article gives a good perspective:

https://rdrf.org.uk/2017/08/21/the-charlie-alliston-case-the-real-story/

Thanks for that.   An interesting analysis of the current situation, and while it isn't short, it is most definitely worth reading.

Avatar
ciderman_100 [48 posts] 1 month ago
9 likes

The thing is, would she have crossed the road in front of a car. If you read the guardian article the braking distance quoted by the "expert" in the trial are no where near what the physics state a bike can stop in. If it had been a car it would have been the pedestrians fault as even from 18 mph a car would not have been able to stop. Change cyclist to 'car driver' Change mother and wife to 'pedestrian on phone' and it would be just another Darwin award candidate and it would be business as usual in the media

Avatar
Zjtm231 [72 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes

Sad he has turned his attention on cyclists and the law. Looks like he's more intent on trying to lock up cyclists rather than help prevent accidents involving cyclists. He also appears totally unconcerned about what causes most deaths on our roads. Basically he wants someone to blame and he wants them in jail.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2799 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

There are no winners in this case, but it does beg the question why motorists so frequently receive more lenient sentences for similar offences. This article gives a good perspective:

https://rdrf.org.uk/2017/08/21/the-charlie-alliston-case-the-real-story/

Thanks for that.   An interesting analysis of the current situation, and while it isn't short, it is most definitely worth reading.

Yep, I thought the article nailed a few pertinent points. The rider sounds like an idiot but that isn't an offence in itself. I think the sentence he received was about right, but it does beg the question why motorists seem to get off so much more lightly for offences of a similar nature.

Avatar
burtthebike [1114 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes

Coverage in the MSM is typically biased and staggeringly trite:

"CYCLOPATH Death cyclist who mowed down mother-of-two hid ghoulish skull tattoo from jury"

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4295825/cyclist-charlie-alliston-kim-briggs/

"'Remorseless' cyclist had ghoulish SKULL tattoo jury couldn't see during mum death trial"

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/639764/Charlie-Alliston-skul...

Even the BBC attributes blame solely to the cyclist, even if it does mention that she stepped out into the road while looking at her phone.

"http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-41028321"

The report on R4 this morning was the same, with no blame whatsoever attached to the pedestrian, who was apparently ignoring the pedestrian lights and not looking where she was going.

Evening Standard is the same https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/charlie-alliston-widower-calls-for...

While the Telegraph highlights the fact that 32 pedestrians have been killed in collision with cyclists in the past ten years, but astonishingly quotes CUK and some real facts

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/23/cyclist-convicted-wanton-furi...

I can't find a single MSM news story which points out that the pedestrian was probably at least equally responsible for stepping out into the road without looking, ignoring pedestrian lights and looking at her mobile phone.

Certainly this was a tragic event, but there is blame on both sides and it is being used to hammer cyclists.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1793 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

What annoys me about this is not the fact he got charged with something, as he obviously carried an element of blame into the situation but the fact the media seems to be creaming themselves over a vehicle doing 10-14mph at the point of collision because that vehicle is......a bike.

If I dropped below 14mph I'd be getting annoyed with myself but now I am supposedly pushing the limits of physics and riding with shear disregard for my fellow road users (who generally are travelling 2 to 4+ times faster than me and weigh 20 times more).

The fact that the guy does appear to be an utter twat doesn't help matters though. Some socio/psychopathic tendencies on display there. Pretty sure I'd be devasted if I killed a mother of two, regardless of overall fault, never mind going on social media to have a complain about it.

Agree entirely Both about the infuriating and depressing double-standards illustrated by the whole affair and how it has been covered in the media, and about the guy being an utter twat.

And while the 'evidence' presented about supposed braking distances seems scandalously stupid to me, it presumably is the case that with a front brake the cyclist's speed would have been lower at the moment of impact? And, given that the victim was very unlucky to be killed by such an impact, even a small reduction in speed might have made a big difference to the outcome.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1793 posts] 1 month ago
7 likes
burtthebike wrote:

Coverage in the MSM is typically biased and staggeringly trite:

...

I can't find a single MSM news story which points out that the pedestrian was probably at least equally responsible for stepping out into the road without looking, ignoring pedestrian lights and looking at her mobile phone.

Certainly this was a tragic event, but there is blame on both sides and it is being used to hammer cyclists.

I have mixed feelings on that point. I tend to want to cut pedestrians every possible inch of slack, because they were here first and everyone else needs to work around them. So I wouldn't want to put equal blame on Ms Briggs.

But I don't believe for an instant, that had the same situation occurred involving a car that the media coverage wouldn't have included loads of commentary excusing the driver and pushing the blame onto the pedestrian.

There's no way it would have gone the same way had the charmless Mr Alliston been driving a car.

Avatar
ChetManley [44 posts] 1 month ago
8 likes

This case seems to have been a bit of a shit show.

Does the law need updating when there's so few prosecutions and the bicycle hasn't fundamentally changed since the 19th century? If anything they're (usually) safer now with better brakes, braking surfaces and tires.

Might be a case for having a single offence covering all road vehicles, but the application of the law seems uneven when we hear of so many drivers getting away with killing someone.

Avatar
alansmurphy [864 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

I want to give them every inch of slack too, but even when you think about the stopping distances, brake etc. there was equal chance she could have stepped out if he was 30cm away, or a car. Just how important is that email, facebook update picture of your mates lunch etc.

 

I nearly had a collision with a pedestrian today, on the link below if you effectively turn right and go past Mecca Bingo you will first see a lovely couple strolling in the cycle lane. There's then barriers to keep peds safe and direct them to the crossing, across the 2 lanes of traffic you will see the grass worn where people are cutting the corner. Lady today went from peds side, across the cycle path to cross the road about 10m in front of me. The case being in the news may have made me more aware of her, the fact that I'm injured may mean i was travelling a lot slower, the fact that I'm injured may have meant I was in trouble if I crashed into her. She was blisfully unaware that she was a dickhead...

 

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Odeon/@53.0954154,-2.443484,3a,75y,126.19h,71.32t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1syeDkAS5NT0BVoXk28t9esQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x487af5f7888ba1e1:0xae20e55a0146ed65!8m2!3d53.0960082!4d-2.4436369

Avatar
Mungecrundle [866 posts] 1 month ago
7 likes

He certainly won't be the only twat with a smirk on his face going into court this week for killing another human being in a road traffic incident, but he is front page news simply bevause of the rarity of a bicycle being his mode of transport.

At one level this should not concern me, I have no responsibility for the actions of Mr Alliston, and he is no representative of cyclists including myself. However, suspecting what I do of human nature you can be sure that a significant number of the UK population believe this morning that they are at more risk of injury from a cyclist than from a car driver when in reality putting on their own socks probably represents a greater hazard to their wellbeing.

Avatar
esnifador [50 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
ChetManley wrote:

This case seems to have been a bit of a shit show. Does the law need updating when there's so few prosecutions and the bicycle hasn't fundamentally changed since the 19th century? If anything they're (usually) safer now with better brakes, braking surfaces and tires. Might be a case for having a single offence covering all road vehicles, but the application of the law seems uneven when we hear of so many drivers getting away with killing someone.

Yes, as tragic as this case is there's absolutely no need for a change in the law. The ludicrous level of coverage is due in part to the rarity of such incidents, and in any case the cyclist was actually convicted under the 19th century law, so it seems that it does still serve a purpose, while countless drivers get away with killing people under the much more recent driving-specific laws. The BBC cited two other previous instances of this law being used against cyclists who killed pedestrians, and again they resulted in convictions. 

Avatar
MrB123 [73 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
georgee wrote:

Correct it is supposition but you can't deny that killing someone with your car, and getting charged with dangerous driving get's you a pat on the back from a QC and a couple of points.  I think the CPS even buy you a cake and a bottle of sherry?

Dangerous driving carried a mandatory disqualification of at least 12 months and the court must also order an extended re-test be taken.

Avatar
davel [1686 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Zjtm231 wrote:

Sad he has turned his attention on cyclists and the law. Looks like he's more intent on trying to lock up cyclists rather than help prevent accidents involving cyclists. He also appears totally unconcerned about what causes most deaths on our roads. Basically he wants someone to blame and he wants them in jail.

Yep - he's knee-jerked his way to a cause, as often seems to happen with relatives/friends of victims of crime. I can't begin to imagine what he's gone through, so I can't blame him for clinging to something to make it seem like his wife didn't totally die in vain. The knee jerks mostly die down.

I'm in two minds about this, though. I have very little faith in politicians to do the right or even the sensible thing, but I think any one-sided review that just wants to update laws relating to cyclist behaviour just cannot get traction, given that the Tories have been putting off a wider traffic crime review for what - a couple of years?

And those laws, and their application, are in dire need of that review. So he just might mis-aim here and trigger something beyond his intention, which is fine with me.

Avatar
SL1D3R [6 posts] 1 month ago
9 likes

taking all of the other factors out of the equation

Driver with 3 bald tyres, skids across road and kills 4 cyclists, 3 of which died at the scene almost immidatly including a 14yr old boy. multiple families devestated, DEFINATE cause for car leaving the road is illigal tyres. Cyclists completely innocent in this, Driver 100% to blame.
Drivers scentence for such a blatant disregard for safety and maintenance of his vehicle?

£180 fine

Cyclist with only 1 working brake, which MAY OR MAY NOT have contributed to the ladies death given the short stopping distance and reaction time, and the fact she stepped out into traffic
Cyclists Sentance? Unknown as of yet but potentially facing jail time when sentanced for wanton furious cycling.

1 of these is infintalty worse than the other in terms of the magnitude of the infraction. can you guess which one?

Avatar
LastBoyScout [287 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

What annoys me about this is not the fact he got charged with something, as he obviously carried an element of blame into the situation but the fact the media seems to be creaming themselves over a vehicle doing 10-14mph at the point of collision because that vehicle is......a bike.

If I dropped below 14mph I'd be getting annoyed with myself but now I am supposedly pushing the limits of physics and riding with shear disregard for my fellow road users (who generally are travelling 2 to 4+ times faster than me and weigh 20 times more).

I nearly got knocked off my bike a few weeks ago by a woman turning right out of a junction right in front of me - I was close enough to kick her bumper, even after hauling on the brakes (mountain bike at the time, so big hydraulic brakes).

Confronted her at the next set of lights and was told, in no uncertain terms, that it was all my fault for going too fast! I was doing about 25mph in a 40mph zone where most cars would be going around 45mph.

Avatar
Awavey [334 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
davel wrote:
Zjtm231 wrote:

Sad he has turned his attention on cyclists and the law. Looks like he's more intent on trying to lock up cyclists rather than help prevent accidents involving cyclists. He also appears totally unconcerned about what causes most deaths on our roads. Basically he wants someone to blame and he wants them in jail.

Yep - he's knee-jerked his way to a cause, as often seems to happen with relatives/friends of victims of crime. I can't begin to imagine what he's gone through, so I can't blame him for clinging to something to make it seem like his wife didn't totally die in vain. The knee jerks mostly die down.

totally agree I cant imagine the pain and stress of it all its a terrible situation to find yourself in through no fault of your own. My issue is really that the media subsequently then give people who are obviously still grieving, distressed and stressed from the court case, the free platform to make these kinds of claims.

I mean I presume the R4 debate didnt include anyone with a counter point or even a properly trained legal background who could have totally cut through the legalese and explained what he is asking for in simple terms, is not what he wants at all.

Pages