Cycling groups back jail term for killer cyclist

Pavement rider who hit pensioner gets little sympathy

by Kevin Emery   August 14, 2009  

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Darren Hall got little sympathy from cycling groups after he was jailed for seven months and banned for driving for a year for mounting the pavement and killing 84-year-old pedestrian Ronald Turner in Weymouth.

The family of the 20-year-old has branded his seven-month jail sentence as excessive, but cyclists have been quick to support the verdict. Hall cycled down a hill in Weymouth too fast and rode on to the pavement to avoid a red traffic light, but he hit Ronald Turner who died 13 days later in August last year. Hall, of Weymouth, pleaded guilty to the 19th Century offence of wanton and furious driving causing bodily harm.

Roger Geffen, CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Manager said on the matter: “There can be no excuse for the actions of a cyclist who rides at speed on a pavement and crashes into a pedestrian. CTC believes that all road users, cyclists and drivers alike, have a responsibility to respect the safety of other people. Those who act dangerously should face the force of the law, as has rightly happened in this case.”

Ken Reed, Weymouth and Portland co-ordinator of the Dorset Cyclists Network Ken Reed has said: “To mount the pavement at 25mph is not safe, even if you do it by mistake. I see no reason why anyone should cycle on a pavement in any way.

And Ian Locock, the chairman of Weymouth Cycling Club, has said: “I don’t think the sentence is too harsh. He should have been more careful. I am firmly of the opinion that the proper place for cyclists is on the road – end of story.”

The incident has made the national news mainly because it's a rare occurrence: pedestrians and cyclists are far more at risk from reckless drivers than they are from one another.

Mr Geffen added: “On average, motor vehicles kill about as many pedestrians in an average day as bicycles do in an average year. Even on the pavements, the risk to pedestrians from motor vehicles is far greater than from cyclists. In addition to the 600 or so pedestrians killed annually by motor vehicles on our roads, they also kill around 40 pedestrians every year on pavements or verges – that’s almost one a week. In contrast, this latest incident is only the third time a cyclist has killed a pedestrian on the pavement this decade.

Mr Geffen continued: “CTC strongly believes that more priority should be given to road traffic policing. All road users, cyclists and drivers alike, must know that that those who cause danger to others face being caught and penalised accordingly. However cyclists, like pedestrians and other vulnerable road user groups, are far more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of irresponsible road behaviour. Increased traffic policing would make our streets safer for everyone.”