A bus driver was yesterday warned by a judge in Bristol that he faced jail following a road rage incident in which he purposefully swerved in to a cyclist breaking his leg, wrist and thumb and crushing his bicycle under the wheels of the bus.
The driver of the bus, Gavin Hill from Frome in Somerset was arrested by police at the scene of the incident which took place in the centre of Bristol outside the city's Magistrate's Court in April last year. Hill was immediately sacked by his employer Bugler Coaches which operated the single decker bus.
Bristol Crown Court was told that cyclist, Phillip Mead spent two weeks in hospital as a result of the injuries caused by Hill's driving, and he also required a further operation to repair his left knee.
The incident developed following a disagreement between the two men at the James Barton roundabout, shortly afterwards the bus driver over-took Mr Mead and swerved across him hitting his shoulder and hurling him across the road.
Yesterday at a pre-sentence hearing at Bristol Crown Court the presiding judge Recorder Frank Abbot said:
“My understanding is he drove his bus in the direction of the bicycle after, at worst, losing his cool. He drove in his direction to frighten him or show him whose boss but caused much more damage.”
Hill pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving at an earlier hearing but Recorder Abbot warned him that:
“It must not be thought that this is not a serious matter.
“You drove in a way that was patently dangerous and in my view you did it out of spite towards the cyclist with catastrophic results.
“He could have been killed and you would have been facing a much more serious offence.
“However causing someone grievous bodily harm is a very serious matter and the most likely sentence is a custodial one and you must realise that is what will be at the forefront of the sentencing judges’ mind.”
Speaking about the incident Gerard Creed, managing directpr of Bugler Coaches told the This is Bath website:
“We were deeply shocked when we heard of this incident and once we had established what had happened Mr Hill was immediately dismissed as we did not want him driving one of our buses ever again.”
He added: “We are proud of all our drivers who are extremely professional and highly vigilant of the safety of passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
“We can assure all passengers that this was an isolated incident by a driver that badly let down our company.
“As a cyclist myself I am very aware that some drivers of large vehicles, both buses and lorries, treat cyclists as a nuisance as indeed do some car drivers.”
While differences of opinion between bus drivers and cyclists on crowded city streets are not uncommon and are sometimes heated incidents of road rage resulting in violence or injury involving buses are rare enough to be newsworthy - last year a Manchester bus driver was convicted of assaulting a cycling pensioner. Many bus operators do now have some sort of cyclist awareness training for their drivers although the issue of buses passing too close when over-taking is still something that concerns many cyclists.
Mr Hill was given bail after yesterday's hearing and will be sentenced later this month.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.