Court told that red light jumping cyclist left pedestrian with fractured skull

Incident happened on London's High Holborn during morning rush hour in July last year

by Simon_MacMichael   July 3, 2012  

Gavel

A court in London has been told that a cyclist riding through a red light was to blame for a partner at a law firm suffering injuries including a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull.

Clive Hyer, a partner at Rosenblatt’s solicitors, was crossing High Holborn just before 9am on 5 July last year when he was struck by 44-year-old cyclist Andrej Schipka of South Hampstead, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper said that Schipka, who is on trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court, denies the charge at careless cycling, was thrown over the handlebars of his bike in the incident, but escaped injury.

Prosecutor Varinder Hayre said: “Mr Hyer was crossing and walking from the north to the south side. A number of other pedestrians were also crossing.

“When he was in the centre of the carriageway he was struck and seriously injured, sustaining life-changing injuries, by the cyclist Mr Schipka, who was travelling eastbound at 26 miles per hour through red traffic lights,” she continued.

While the alleged speed of the cyclist, presumably established by police collision investigators studying CCTV footage shown to magistrates yesterday and other evidence, is relevant to this case, cyclists cannot be fined for speeding as such.

The speed limit on High Holborn in any event is 30mph, although last year the City of London revealed it was considering reducing the lomit to 20mph throughout the Square Mile, potentially including major routes such as this which are administered by Transport for London. The proposals were welcomed by the London Cycling Campaign.

Speaking of Mt Hyer's injuries, Mrs Hayre continued: “The victim sustained a fractured skull and a small bleed on the brain.”

Referring to Schipka, she went on: “We say he was cycling without due care and attention when approaching pedestrian crossing, by making no attempt to slow down, by failing to anticipate any pedestrian could step out, by failing to keep a proper lookout and by giving no consideration to the other road users.”

Police constable Philip Cook described how when he reached the scene of the incident, he found Mr Hyer in a dazed condition on the road.

The officer said that Schipka had told him: “I came down Holborn and people were waiting here to cross the street. When I came close to the crossover a couple of people ran over and he started moving out.

“I shouted and braked but it was too late. I collided with him and fell over the bars of my bike and lost my glasses.”

Schipka has denied careless cycling and the trial is continuing.

27 user comments

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One wonders what the sentence of the court will be in this case and how many people will make comparisons to sentences handed out to car/van drivers doing the same thing.
Surely if he's accused of "driving without" all he has to say is the sun was in his eyes and he will be let off.

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [584 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 10:31

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Couldn't help thinking the same thing, but at the same time I do not feel any affinity towards RLJers.

26mph in the city does sound too quick.

The prosecutor's statement “We say he was cycling without due care and attention when approaching pedestrian crossing, by making no attempt to slow down, by failing to anticipate any pedestrian could step out, by failing to keep a proper lookout and by giving no consideration to the other road users.” - I note this does not claim that he jumped the red light though? Maybe they just can't prove it. His statement though, perhaps suggests that maybe he went through on at least amber, for the pedestrians to think that it was safe to start to cross.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3108 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 11:04

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Prosecutor states he went through red light in the 5th paragraph. Presumably they have that on CCTV.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8033 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 11:09

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The issue really is why this is being discussed not just here, but in the T*l*graph, Evening Standard etc. Does the media report the details of every case in which a pedestrian is hit by RLJing cars, taxis and buses?

posted by pickles [28 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 11:43

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I hope they throw the book at him.

posted by gazzaputt [179 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 12:01

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Sounds like an injury that could have averted if the pedestrian had been wearing a helmet. That they hadn't surely makes the pedestrian jointly liable for the more severe consequences.

posted by Paul J [606 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 12:02

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Idiot cyclists like this guy get us all a bad name. If he's aged 44, he's no risk-taking teenager but, supposedly, an adult and should've known better. Crossing a junction at red at an estimated 26mph is bonkers.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2194 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 12:40

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gazzaputt wrote:
I hope they throw the book at him.

I couldn't agreed more.

I can never understand how cyclists think it is OK to RLJ. It has a potential to cause far too many accidents which are avoidable by being a little patient at the lights. Everyone gets heated up about RLJing cars so why should cyclists think the law should not apply to them.

I know in some states in the US they are allowed to RLJ which to me would cause even more confusion.

posted by Marauder [239 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 12:55

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If the prosecutor says that the cyclist jumped a red light, then this means the rider has been acccused of jumping a red light! This could be a question of fact for the magistrate to decide! Please wait for him to get a fair trial before you hang him! If the light was green or amber then the cyclist is the victim not the villain! A red light means stop before the white line. If any part of his bike was across the white line before the red light he still has right of way!

posted by SideBurn [788 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 14:26

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Bear in mind too that had the victim suffered a similar injury following an accident caused by a car driver, he'd be assured compensation from the vehicle's insurer (assuming that the vehicle had been covered). But in this instance, the victim will have to sue the cyclist for negligence, or similar. As the victim is from the legal profression and as it is in his employer's interest also to sue, I expect the cyclist could face a rather tough fight in the courts and in all likelihood, hefty claims for damages. Such is the price of impatience.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2194 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 14:29

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No matter whether the traffic light was red or green, this man wasn't riding with sufficient caution

If there are pedestrians stepping out in to the road, you should be travelling at a speed where you can react to prevent a collision, even if you have right of way

I think 26mph is too fast under such circumstances, and if the signal is green for people crossing the road, then it's a criminal speed to be travelling

Saying that, it is perfectly possible to cycle through a red light without putting pedestrians at risk - at low speed and with caution

That doesn't mean it's advisable, or legal, but RLJing doesn't have to be dangerous to others or yourself - any more than going through an unsignalled junction has to be

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 15:32

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SideBurn, of course you mean Amber light. You can only continue through the lights if it is Green or you have already crossed the stop line when it turns to Amber. So if it was "just turning red" then he would have seen Amber and should have stopped.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/...

posted by markyjl [8 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 16:46

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Are you telling me that a pedestrian has never stepped out in front of you without looking, fluffy_mike? If so you are very lucky! Without knowing the layout of the road and more information you cannot say whether 26 mph is too fast. This is what court proceedings are all about; trying to extract justice from a complicated set of facts and evidence. Wait and see what the judgement is THEN condemn him. Please?

posted by SideBurn [788 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 16:50

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If there are pedestrians stepping out in to the road, you should be travelling at a speed where you can react to prevent a collision, even if you have right of way

In a perfect world, but far to often this would mean traveling at walking pace. Too many pedestrians do not anticipate cyclists being there. If they can't hear you, you don't exist.

As for this case, if he RLJ then throw the book at him, if he didn't then sorry i have no sympathy for the pedestrian.

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posted by mrmo [1074 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 16:51

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The accident happened on Holborn Viaduct not High Holborn according to the other news sources.

Andrej Schipka is claiming the light was green according to Courtnewsuk.

Commuting in London it is a regular occurance that pedestrians walk out when the light is green for traffic.

posted by thereverent [298 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 17:42

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+1 mrmo, I was sitting in a petrol station once (in a car) when someone walked into it. So I had a collision with a ped... at 0mph.

And agree with all those saying 'throw the book at him (provided allegations are true)'. Tbh a crackdown on law-breaking cyclists really would do the law-abiding among us a massive favour - I know some people will use anything they can to bash cyclists, and some law breaking is inevitably, but it's still a problem. Can he not be charged with dangerous cycling, which AFAIK is an offence, in the same way dangerous driving is, and would better reflect the nature of the crime?

posted by nuclear coffee [147 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 17:51

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Any cyclist worth their salt, wouldn't be going so fast through traffic lights in the centre of London. I feel sorry for the Solicitor who was injured. However, I have seen many cyclists riding like it was a 10 mile time trial outside Kennington tube station knowing full well they can jump lights because there is no vechiclar risk. We need to respect one another and our journeys can be safer if we do!

posted by onlyonediane [159 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 17:57

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No, markyjl, I mean only red! The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002,s.36(1)(e)states "the amber signal shall, when shown alone, convey the same prohibition as the red signal, except that, as respects any vehicle which is so close to the stop line that it cannot safely be stopped without proceeding beyond the stop line, it shall convey the same indication as the green signal or green arrow signal which was shown immediately before it;". What this means in English (and in practice) is that only red means stop (before the white line)!

posted by SideBurn [788 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 19:39

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More to the point, as OldRidgeback points out the cyclist could be liable for damages. If as is reported above the solicitor has life changing injuries (and I am guessing this means brain damage) the cyclist is unlikely to have sufficient assests to pay a claim (£M?). This leaves the potential victim in the s**t. Worth remembering that British Cycling and the CTC offer third party insurance at minimal cost. I suspect none of us are angels all the time (except me of course!). Third party insurance at least ensures that if we do screw up the victim could make a successful claim, although no amount of money can sort out brain damage; it makes a lot of difference.

posted by SideBurn [788 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 19:58

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My gut feeling is that this story is being blown out of proportion to make the cyclist look bad (and yes I am biased as a cyclist and I can only repeat this is a gut feeling based on very, very, limited knowledge of whats happened) and could well reach a verdict of the cyclist not being at fault which will be reported in the same media outlets in the tiniest of print just below an advert for terrapins wanted.

What is almost guaranteed is that this will be remembered by most as "Bastard cyclist rode into a crowd of pedestrians and almost killed one".

As for everyone getting heated about motorists running red lights? Really? If people were getting so heated then why do I see it with a hell of a lot more regularity than cyclists running them?

posted by farrell [1404 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 23:40

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It's true pedestrians in London (and elsewhere) step out without looking. I've had a few close calls over the years and in one instance years ago, was unable to avoid the Danish couple who looked the wrong way before marching out confidently into my path - bruises all round but nothing broken fortunately. But in this instance, it seems as if the cyclist was running a red light and CCTV evidence will likely decide the fact one way or the other. A lot of pedestrians depend on whether or not they can hear a vehicle approaching and cross at red without looking - which causes safety issues for everyone. The onus is on the cyclist to slow down and ride with caution.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2194 posts]
4th July 2012 - 10:16

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The Times reports that the case has been closed with an £850 fine being imposed.

There is no any decent person and responsible cyclist should only should 'oi move' and be doing 26mph in an area such as that - junction or no junction

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3464777.ece

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posted by RhysW [74 posts]
4th July 2012 - 11:13

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"I want the whole world to know that cyclists have a duty of care to behave like human beings,” she said. “It’s about time people stopped worrying about cyclists being killed by lorries if they do not conduct themselves in the right manner". So, because one bloke got hit when walking across 6 lanes of traffic and got injured, cyclists are fair game to be killed. Hmmm.

There is something not right about this story.

posted by farrell [1404 posts]
4th July 2012 - 11:48

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TheTimes wrote:

Schipka was found guilty of careless cycling and fined £850 plus £930 costs and a £15 surcharge. After the conviction, Mr Hyer’s wife, Susan, said that cyclists in cities must take note of the damage they could inflict.

“I want the whole world to know that cyclists have a duty of care to behave like human beings,” she said. “It’s about time people stopped worrying about cyclists being killed by lorries if they do not conduct themselves in the right manner. He nearly killed my husband.”

Gaye Cheyne, chairwoman of the bench, said that he had shown a “lack of care and competence” and had been cycling at an “unsafe speed” as he rode towards a group of pedestrians. She said the maximum fine the bench could impose was £1,000 and that she would not award compensation because it was inevitable that civil proceedings would follow.

He's going to be sued into next month, and I have no sympathy for him.

Her point about the lorry deaths is a real concern, but partly because we are all lumped together as one group.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3108 posts]
4th July 2012 - 11:54

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Whilst I feel for anybody whose partner gets injured in a RTC, I cannot believe that she could be so callous as to suggest an "open season" on cyclists or is it that she is perhaps saying that all the cyclists that have been killed or seriously injured deserved it.
She does not even have the defence of saying that the statement was made "in the heat of the moment" as the incident was almost a year ago.

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [584 posts]
5th July 2012 - 10:49

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She's not suggesting an open season (why the quote marks? she didn't say it) on cyclists! Nor is she saying that any who have been hurt or killed deserved it. Seems to me she's just furious about what happened to her husband - and who can blame her? - and has expressed a reasonable view (that there should be as much focus on cyclists behaving responsibly as there is on preventing injury to cyclists) albeit rather clumsily. I think before you judge her too harshly you should consider how you might feel if your partner's skull had been broken.

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posted by Martin Thomas [567 posts]
5th July 2012 - 11:13

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She's not suggesting an open season on cyclists...

I think she is actually:
It’s about time people stopped worrying about cyclists being killed by lorries if they do not conduct themselves in the right manner.

It's a whole new level of SMIDSY,
"don't worry officer, the cyclist wasn't conducting themselves in the right manner; I'll get a hosepipe and then be on my way"

posted by tarquin_foxglove [80 posts]
9th July 2012 - 17:35

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