Teen cyclist fined following death of Manchester pensioner

Victim broke neck after driver of bus she was on had to perform emrgency stop

by Simon_MacMichael   February 18, 2011  

Gavel

A teenage cyclist in Manchester has been fined for dangerous cycling following the death of a pensioner who had been a passenger on a bus that he caused to brake hard through his cycling. Louie Palmer, aged 79, broke her neck after the bus driver was forced to execute an emergency stop.

Salford Youth Court was told that the brakes on the bicycle belonging to 17-year-old Wesley Grech, who had ridden into the road at a pedestrian crossing set to red, were in poor condition, according to the Manchester Evening News.

Mrs Palmer, who had been traveling to an exercise class, died later in hospital despite attempts by medical students on the bus to save her life. A second passenger on the bus, which had been traveling at 25mph, broke her arm.

Julie Skinner, acting for the prosecution, told the court that Grech had been crossing the road to go to a cash machine and rode away following the accident, and was later tracked down by police after they released CCTV images.

Grech, who was reported to be “devastated” by the incident, admitted the charge dangerous cycling on Tuesday. His mother, present as his guardian, was told to pay a £250 fine plus £150 costs.

Judge Jonathan Feinstein told Grech that based on the evidence, dangerous cycling represented ‘the correct charge’ to be laid against him, adding: “From first to last you have held your head low, thoroughly ashamed and completely wrecked by what has happened in this sad and tragic case. I’m sure you also feel for the deceased’s family.

“Even an incident like this, which happened in a split second, has had consequences so profound and deep, it is impossible to calculate,” he added.

Mrs Palmer’s family told the Manchester Evening News: “We are pleased that Mr Grech has chosen to plead guilty and that we can now bring some closure to this tragic event.”

Under the Road Traffic Act 1991, a cyclist is regarded as riding dangerously if “the way he rides falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful cyclist” and “it would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist that riding in that way would be dangerous.”

The Act adds that “‘dangerous’ refers to danger either of injury to any person or of serious damage to property,” and that “in determining… what would be obvious to a competent and careful cyclist in a particular case, regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.”

 

14 user comments

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Bit mixed on this. Bad riding but shouldn't bus passengers be expected to withstand low-speed emergency stops?

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
18th February 2011 - 8:30

2 Likes

a.jumper wrote:
Bit mixed on this. Bad riding but shouldn't bus passengers be expected to withstand low-speed emergency stops?

Granted - but he wasn't charged with anything related to her death. According to the article - and the level of fine set - he was simply fined for his dangerous cycling. A terrible accident and a shame about the death, but the correct result in my opinion.

Maybe next time he'll make sure his brakes work and cycle on the road.

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [567 posts]
18th February 2011 - 9:21

1 Like

a.jumper wrote:
Bit mixed on this. Bad riding but shouldn't bus passengers be expected to withstand low-speed emergency stops?

He was only charged with 'dangerous cycling' not 'death by dangerous cycling' (which im not sure even exists? tho following this case im sure some muppet MP will be pushing for it to be created)... so i think its appropriate.

However, they obviously only went after the kid because someone was injured. I wish the police would do somthing about people who act dangerously on the roads (but by sheer dumb luck avoid killing anyone) be they in a car, on a bike, or walking across without looking.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
18th February 2011 - 9:26

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Yeah but was the bus safe? How does a controlled emergency stop kill a passenger? There's something odd there and it seems like the bus co is avoiding scrutiny because there was a bike to blame.

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
18th February 2011 - 10:03

2 Likes

> shouldn't bus passengers be expected to withstand low-speed emergency stops?

Was it a low speed stop ? I do not know what road the accident happened on, but it could be a 50mph limit ?

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
18th February 2011 - 12:16

3 Likes

The bus was doing 25mph, says so in the article - fast enough to kill a pedestrian or a cyclist if hit by it & we don't know the circumstances, was she stood up and fell, or fell sideways from a seat, or jerked forwards and went face first into the solid plactic/metal of the seat in front of her, was she sat backwards and the whiplash effect was too much theres any number of ways she could have succumbed and she was 79 so its not a huge leap to imagine her as quite a frail person
unable to effectively withstand a sudden unexpected deceleration in whats pretty much an open plan area with no restraints other than her own reflexes and core & arm strength

If a driver had done it to a group of cyclists either through inattention, inadequate vehicle maintenence (poor brakes mentioned on the bike) or simply didn't think/care, the cycling community would have something to say about it.

I can't see how we as cyclists should or could defend this and it comes over rather Adam Raynor or Jeremy Clarkson to try and make it an issue about cars doing the same thing. it wasn;'t a car it was a bike lets stick to the facts, if we want the same rights as motor vehicles we have to accept the same responsibility for our actions.

Personally I think the lad did right to plead and I have great sympathy for him if he is as devastated as he says, it will be a huge burden to him & the ladys family for a long time to come. I think from the article that her family have shown remarkable restraint and taken a very dignfied stance on it too, it would be easy to be howling for blanket bike bans and manslaughter charges, but they've not done.

posted by Shouldbeinbed [33 posts]
18th February 2011 - 12:44

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I've once sat in a touring bus that braked hard in the city when a car did something stupid. The bus was riding only 10 mph or so, but it still was a serious jolt. However, I read somewhere that seat belts in buses would severely reduce the available seating and are hard to implement safely, so these kind of accidents are just accepted, since buses are extremely safe in general.

posted by Aapje [196 posts]
18th February 2011 - 13:36

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> I can't see how we as cyclists should or could defend

As a cyclist I would tend to side with the cyclist (and hate "Top Gear" attitude as much as anyone): but this lad was an idiot: 'poor' brakes (OK: a little subjective), cycling over a pedestrian crossing (bad), doing so on a red light (idiot), not even thinking of himself and seeing a bus coming: priceless.
And I hope he had a big thank you for the bus driver.

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
18th February 2011 - 19:46

2 Likes

Yes, the kid is indefensible, but what about the bus? The Johnson's buses I rode around Coventry had seatbelts and plenty of stuff to hold on to when not seated. Shouldn't all buses? Did that one?

But no, let's blame only the cyclist and wait for someone else to die when a car cuts up one of those buses, right?

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
19th February 2011 - 9:33

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I cannot see any blame in the bus driver for this. This was a last second moment of insanity by the lad on the BMX, there was no way the driver could have been expected to have planned for it. Its just lucky for said teen that he wasnt also a casualty.

With the seatbelt issue, buses are generally very safe for their passengers. It would be a detremental cost to the providers to have to install seatbelts on their fleets, imo. Having seatbelts would also mean that it is deemed unsafe to stand in the ailes or that you should have to wait until the bus is stopped before unseating. Thinking

I think there is a wider picture. One that many parents who buy their kids these bikes need to be aware and deal with. I see many children on bikes who do not know how to ride safely, and yes I know of the folly of youth but we're now talking kids bombing 20mph down pavements weaving around pedestrians, leaping on and off the road or riding the wrong way.

Parents need to take more responsibility. Check over their child's bike, make sure there are brakes, reflectors, that they use lights at night. If they dont know how then delegate to a good shop. If the kid does something stupid, take the bike away.

And yes, sometimes they need to check up on the kid to see how they're riding. It may seem harsh but its only right, after all it will help protect the kids out there too (who dont have the experience we have).

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
6th March 2011 - 20:53

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downfader wrote:
I cannot see any blame in the bus driver for this. [...]

Errrrr, no-one has really mentioned blaming this bus driver!

downfader wrote:
With the seatbelt issue, buses are generally very safe for their passengers. It would be a detremental cost to the providers to have to install seatbelts on their fleets, imo. Having seatbelts would also mean that it is deemed unsafe to stand in the ailes or that you should have to wait until the bus is stopped before unseating. Thinking

As I mentioned, the buses I rode recently had seatbelts. I think they had signs saying you should remain seated or hold the handles while the vehicle is in motion, too. Who are these penny-pinching bus companies who refuse to fit seatbelts? Why should the safer bus companies be disadvantaged?

Buses may be safer than cars, but what happened to this poor lady in that bus in a relatively low-speed emergency stop and would a few seatbelts or padded handles have avoided it?

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
7th March 2011 - 0:26

1 Like

@a.jumper
The stats for accidents where passengers on buses have suffered are pretty low. So low its worth equating them to head injury stats with cycling. In most cases seatbelts just arent needed on them... and to start babbling on about it is akin to the Preacher's Wife in The Simpsons: "Wont somebody think of the children" kind of over-reaction

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
7th March 2011 - 17:00

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They might be underreported, as we are always told cycling stats are, but have you got numbers?

It's as irrelevant as talking about "kids bombing 20mph down pavements weaving around pedestrians, leaping on and off the road" when if this kid had been doing 20mph, a bus doing 25mph wouldn't have needed to do an emergency stop!

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
7th March 2011 - 22:00

1 Like

Bus speed limited to 80Kph and standing passengers permitted no seat belts required

Coach limited to 100Kph (62.5mph) no standing passengers - seatbelts fitted

Coaches tend to be in high speed roll-over crashes buses more usually run into bridges and other street features at <30mph. Buses have worst collision rate with pedestrians (& cyclists?) but flat sides like vertical trampoline, and deep skirts (or lifeguards on older buses) make gap to go under wheels small reducing risk of serious injury in comparison with trucks.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [504 posts]
3rd May 2011 - 7:53

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