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Man who appealed £30 fixed penalty notice to Crown Court ordered to pay four-figure costs

A Brighton cyclist has been left with a bill of more than £1000 after appealing a £30 fixed penalty fine all the way to the Crown Court. The fine had been imposed after he was spotted by a police officer riding the wrong way up a one-way street.

Jean Blaison, aged 59, was given the fixed penalty notice in July 2011 by PC Eliane Welsh, who said that he had almost collided with a pedestrian on St James’s Street, reports Brighton and Hove News.

Blaison unsuccessfully appealed the fixed penalty notice to Brighton Magistrates’ Court and again to Hove Crown Court, which in a hearing last month told him he must pay it as well as court costs of more than £1,000.

No reasons were stated for why Blaison had refused to pay the fine, or why he appealed it up through the court system.

PC Welsh commented: “Cyclists travelling the wrong way in St James’s Street is the biggest complaint from local residents and business owners and can end in serious injury for both pedestrians and cyclists.

“St James’s Street is a single lane road and a main bus route and is incredibly busy at certain times of the day.

“We will be actively looking for those caught ignoring the one-way signs and issuing them with on the spot fines.

“I am pleased that Blaison’s appeals were dismissed as he refused point black to accept responsibility for his actions or almost hitting the pedestrian.

“The roads are for everyone to use and enjoy and we all know that cycling is a great way to get around the city but those who blatantly flaunt the rules, if caught, will be fined.”

Blaison isn’t the first fiftysomething male cyclist from Brighton to have walked away from court with his bank balance significantly lighter.

In 2010, Richard Hodgson, then aged 53, was fined £700 by Brighton Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £215 costs for ignoring the traffic light, cycling without lights, cycling on the pavement and failure to stop for police.

In October last year, we reported how a cyclist in Brooklyn, New York, faced a fine of $1,555 after police spotted him riding through three red lights in the space of two blocks, due to an escalator which sees fines increased for repeat offences.

It was argued that such increased fines should not be imposed in what was in effect a single incident and were instead meant for those who had already been fined then went on to commit the same offence again.

News of Blaison’s unsuccessful appeal against his fine comes as Sussex Police prepare to launch a major campaign starting next Monday 14 January against anti-social cycling, including riding through red lights, in Brighton and Hove.

The Argus says that 31 cyclists were fined for ignoring traffic signals there last year, a 60 per cent drop on two years earlier. It adds that 319 motorists in the city received fines for driving through red lights in 319, fewer than half the 815 drivers who received a similar penalty in 2010.

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.

31 comments

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davidtcycle [62 posts] 3 years ago
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About as much as you would need to pay to kill a cyclist with a car

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Rupert [189 posts] 3 years ago
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It is great that they are cracking down on cyclist jumping red lights in Brighton as we don't want to end up with any pointless deaths of reckless cyclist no matter how much we hate their foolish red light jumping ways.  14 But a message to the those in charge in Brighton, maybe the cycle paths in should be sorted out. The cycle paths are a joke and obviously designed by people who don't ride a bike.  14 oh and by the way If it's not a cyclist being killed by a car soon it will be a pedestrian being killed by a cyclist in Brighton. GET THE CYCLE ROUTES OFF THE PATHS AND ONTO THE ROADS, and when I say that I mean fully on the roads not one moment on the pavement one moment off the pavement on to the road and approaching traffic, off on off on it's a recipe for disaster, please please sort it out  15 . if you need any practical advice on correcting the continued dead end bike route policy in Brighton I am more than willing to help  3

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georgee [162 posts] 3 years ago
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No, that's circa 5 times as much.

Good though, if your a chopper who makes us all look like twats doing what you know you shouldn't you should get done

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therevokid [948 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm curious now .... how do the police "know" who you
are when there's no registration plate on a bike ????

Just asking like  1

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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The law is an ass.

The judge is probably a donkey too.

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Joselito [160 posts] 3 years ago
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St James Street facing oncoming traffic...
should've taken the £30 hit.

From when I lived there:
- I remember getting grief from a bus driver for being in a bus lane for buses only nr Old Steine:
- the sheer impatience of drivers not giving an inch on the 'Vogue gyratory' and a 2 yard cycle lane nr Hove library.

I also seem to remember that Council / Plod did a campaign in press with adverts warning Ninja cylists and RLJers before they actually started fining them.
Don't remember similar campaigns against inconsiderate driver behaviour though.

And there was also the Argus letters page counter attack from local cyclists after some driver started having a pop. Cyclists who responded included; Tom Simpson (Sutherland Road); Stephen Roche (Rottingdean); Raymond Poulidor (Gratham Road); Fausto Coppi (Hove)& Francesco Moser(Peacehaven). Have an image of clipping from the Guardian, would post it up but beyond my ken.

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Recumbenteer [166 posts] 3 years ago
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Rupert wrote:

cycle paths are a joke and obviously designed by people who don't ride a bike

Well, you got that bit right.
Anyone who rides a bicycle in the UK knows that.
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pete.meg/wcc/facility-of-the-month/

Rupert wrote:

GET THE CYCLE ROUTES OFF THE PATHS AND ONTO THE ROADS

Now there you are patently and demonstrably wrong. If cyclists want to mix it with traffic, fair enough, but the burden of proof lies with people like you to show how we will ever get people cycling on roads with so many idiots driving so badly and incompetently.
Years of declining & subsequent flat-lining cycling are proof-enough that while the situation continues that the pitiful state of cycling will also continue. Cyclists have been frightened-off the roads by road-danger or perceived road-danger onto the footways (pavement), or given-up cycling.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Cycling isn't going to get into double-figures Nationally without some serious shot in the arm.
The answer that has been shown clearly to work is high-quality Dutch-type segregated infrastructure.

I speak as someone who rides on the road and has ridden on the road for five decades.

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andyp [1448 posts] 3 years ago
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'Good though, if your a chopper who makes us all look like twats doing what you know you shouldn't you should get done'

This. x lots.

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thereverent [407 posts] 3 years ago
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I would never recommend cycling the wrong way up a one-way street, aside from being illegal no-one expects you coming from that direction.

So I had a look on streetview to see what the road was like and cycling the wrong way looks pretty stupid.
Then i had a look at the map of the area. If you want to travel east in this aprt of town you have the choice of a dual carriageway to the north (Edward St) or a main road to the south (Marine Parade). There is no quiet back street to use.
St James’s Street looks like it use to be two way, but gave space over to car parking.

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Dizzy [68 posts] 3 years ago
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Rupert wrote:

The cycle paths are a joke and obviously designed by people who don't ride a bike.  14 oh and by the way If it's not a cyclist being killed by a car soon it will be a pedestrian being killed by a cyclist in Brighton. GET THE CYCLE ROUTES OFF THE PATHS AND ONTO THE ROADS, and when I say that I mean fully on the roads not one moment on the pavement one moment off the pavement on to the road and approaching traffic, off on off on it's a recipe for disaster

Agreed, riding round Brighton reminds of playing the old arcade game Frogger

Hmmmm.. wonder if the driver I reported to Operation Crackdown (& supplied video) for driving his lorry down a one way street got the same fine??

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adscrim [139 posts] 3 years ago
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I think the primary message from declining bike journeys is that cars are cheep and people are lazy. And I don't think dutch type segregation is going to change that. We need to remember that there is also a significant cultural difference involved. The old chicken and egg. Is the cycling infrastructure responsible for the number of cylclist or there because of them.

My belief is that enforcing current laws, educating all road users regards the PUBLIC highway along with the possible introduction of lower innercity limits and real deterents is the way to go. Partial segregation will only lead to motorised vehicle users developing an even greater belief that non-motorised vehicles are incompatible with there needs and should never share 'their' road space. I say partial because we don't have the space or resource in most places to provide full segregation.

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Mountainboy [96 posts] 3 years ago
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Why is it significant that someone adjudged him guilty of almost hitting someone?

We are often 'almost hit', I don't mind being 'almost hit' so much, it's when they improve their aim that I get upset.

How many serious injuries have occurred on that stretch of road? Just wondered as that's what the police officer seemed to be so concerned about. Are they, in fact, addressing a real need, or just responding to whiny voices?

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HKCambridge [222 posts] 3 years ago
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No issue with him being charged: he was quite simply wrong to be doing it. However the fine is completely disproportionate, and the police officer is talking bollocks about the likelihood of injury to pedestrians.

This is a single lane major bus route in Cambridge, next to the main shopping district, and very busy. http://goo.gl/maps/U1Dn1

The right-hand side has constantly got a row of taxis, over-ranked. The buses are almost wider than the remaining space. Yet it is two-way for cyclists and one-way for motor traffic. It is far from an ideal situation, but I am not aware of any serious (or even minor) accidents. Brighton doesn't have to force the one-way system on cyclists: it has chosen to do so.

But if you really want to go the wrong way down a one-way street, get off your bike and push. I'll help you argue for the removal of the restriction on bikes, not on your right to ignore the rules.

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SideBurn [890 posts] 3 years ago
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I am reading 'Sex, Lies and Handlebar tape' about Jacques Anquetil; the author says that Jacques thought nothing of reversing his car the wrong way down one way streets  39 is this illegal  39 Maybe the mistake this guy made was not riding a fixed wheel bike backwards  1 But seriously if this chap WAS riding the wrong way down a one way street and had no defence; not clearly signed maybe? Then he should have paid the £30. If he took legal advice that advice should have been, "-Pay Up- But I will happily defend you if you wish" (and have deep pockets). This is how the fixed penalty system works, either admit it and pay a fixed fine; or put yourself at the mercy of a Judge... with an uncertain outcome. I would like to know what his defence was based on; because I have no sympathy for him at the moment  22

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cidermart [489 posts] 3 years ago
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http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pete.meg/wcc/facility-of-the-month/.

Love it 'Recumbenteer' this has had me in stitches it is that shocking but it is also added to my favourites.

Numpty should have taken the £30 hit I can’t really feel any sympathy for bloody-mindedness.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Why on earth did he appeal?

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Simon_MacMichael [2452 posts] 3 years ago
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HKCambridge wrote:

No issue with him being charged: he was quite simply wrong to be doing it. However the fine is completely disproportionate...

The fine is still £30. It's the court costs that add up to more than a grand.

That's the costs awarded against him by the way... he may have his own costs to pay too.

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Paul M [360 posts] 3 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

The law is an ass.

The judge is probably a donkey too.

Sorry Ridgeback, can't share your assessment here. The guy was completely bang to rights. What part of "No Entry" did he not understand? This is not something which is nuanced or a matter of degree, but a straight black & white. He should just have accepted the FPN as a hazard of life and paid up his £30 wih good grace - just look out more carefully for plod next time.

I assume he didn't have legal representation - any competent brief wodl have told him to forget the whole idea. Must have been representing himself which, as the old legal saying has it, means "he had a fool for a client".

As for repeat offences, motorists who blast through four speed traps in quick succession, as certainly used to be possible on the A4 near Heathrow, have been known to get 12 points on their licence and a ban, in the space of a couple of minutes. Can't see why an exception should be made for cyclists.

Asking where the safe faciltiies for cyclists are, or why any one-way street is not legally two-way for bikes, now THAT is a valid question!

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fatbeggaronabike [815 posts] 3 years ago
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It would be quite interesting to know the whole story as to why the cyclist appealed, I mean he may have just come from one shop to another 100 feet away which would mean going all the way round the system (and before people say it yes he should have walked if that was the case) and thought the PC was being a bit heavy handed,as thereverent has already pointed out it looks like this was originally two way but local councillors ceded to lazy car drivers/local retailers for more parking, as well as the alternative routes being uninviting. If that was his grounds for appeal it's a bit of a shame he lost, but if not well then it's a case of ha ha ha

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mbell [42 posts] 3 years ago
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Interestingly, Brighton Council recently started to allow cycling against the flow of traffic on certain cycle lanes in the town centre.  7

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HKCambridge [222 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
HKCambridge wrote:

No issue with him being charged: he was quite simply wrong to be doing it. However the fine is completely disproportionate...

The fine is still £30. It's the court costs that add up to more than a grand.

That's the costs awarded against him by the way... he may have his own costs to pay too.

Quite right, misread that as an additional penalty.

Out of interest I went on cyclestreets to look at injuries recorded in the area. I won't claim a complete survey as I only looked at it for a few minutes but all the serious injuries I found were to cyclists, and all involving motor vehicles. The slight injuries to pedestrians I found were also caused by motor vehicles.

Anyway, it all certainly speaks against the claim that cyclists are a danger to pedestrians in the area.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

Brighton doesn't have to force the one-way system on cyclists: it has chosen to do so.

This, rather than do something constructive....

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Jerm [39 posts] 3 years ago
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I think that it's quite right that he should pay the costs rather than the rest of us. He chose to take the case there. Costs follow that decision.

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David French [50 posts] 3 years ago
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Riding the wrong way down St James' Street is plain stupid. It's not like he was going down a quiet back street, it's a really busy road with buses and pedestrians everywhere.

People won't be looking behind them before they cross if they're walking down the hill because frankly nobody should be driving or cycling down hill and so it's dangerous.

There's also 2 roads which run parallel which are not one way.

He deserved the original fine and should have paid it.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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Paul M wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

The law is an ass.

The judge is probably a donkey too.

Sorry Ridgeback, can't share your assessment here. The guy was completely bang to rights. What part of "No Entry" did he not understand? This is not something which is nuanced or a matter of degree, but a straight black & white. He should just have accepted the FPN as a hazard of life and paid up his £30 wih good grace - just look out more carefully for plod next time.

I assume he didn't have legal representation - any competent brief wodl have told him to forget the whole idea. Must have been representing himself which, as the old legal saying has it, means "he had a fool for a client".

As for repeat offences, motorists who blast through four speed traps in quick succession, as certainly used to be possible on the A4 near Heathrow, have been known to get 12 points on their licence and a ban, in the space of a couple of minutes. Can't see why an exception should be made for cyclists.

Asking where the safe faciltiies for cyclists are, or why any one-way street is not legally two-way for bikes, now THAT is a valid question!

Yep, he should've paid the fine and cycling the wrong way up a one way street isn't too clever. In fact, it's stupid. But given the paltry fines dished out for very serious driving offences, £1000 is simply ridiculous.

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Jerm [39 posts] 3 years ago
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£1000 is the costs, not the fine! It was his appeal. He decided to pursue it. He lost and therefore has to pay the costs. The alternative is that the taxpayer pays it. I don't see why this is even a story. This was a Crown Court not a Magistrates Court therefore the costs were significantly higher.

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rliu [38 posts] 3 years ago
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Completely bemused by this man's actions. Yes I can sympathise it must have been annoying to be fined £30 for what was probably a trifling incident and he felt he was just doing what a lot of other cyclists do in the area, but with something like cycling wrong way up a one way street this is a strict liability offence, which means there need not be malicious intent and there are next to no defences you can successfully plead. Call it unfair but this system exists to save Court time, and this gentleman has stubbornly to the point of insanity appealed a simple judgment and landed himself with hugely excessive Court costs, not to mention a waste of Court time.

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DAG on a bike [81 posts] 3 years ago
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Commit an offence? Break the law? Pay up and shut up.

Motorist or cyclist - makes no difference.

Don't agree with the laws? Lobby your MP.

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Viro Indovina [81 posts] 3 years ago
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I know this road well. Ride it several times a week.

How on earth did this guy think he'd get off? Totally indefensible. It's chaos at the best of times.

100 meters south and you've got the de facto mixed-use ultra-wide two-way pavement ,with a glorious view when it's not raining sideways in your face.

Brighton council has laid on some very convenient contra-flow cycle paths (in the North Laines for example). Recent planning permission to renovate the deadly Vogue Gyratory has me confident that things are improving.

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Chainring-Annih... [7 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd like to see police stop bad drivers (and actively look-out for them, too, in URBAN areas). You tend to see them go for the easy collar, instead...

If cyclists are a problem, then the cycling-infrastructure should be seen for what it is - to be badly at fault!
I mean, what is government for?
Apart from the cases of genuinely-cavalier cycling putting others at genuine danger, this infrastructure-blaming should be the default position, especially after statistics (as well as much anecdotal evidence, no doubt) are in.

I for one, am really sick of this legal culture of blaming the symptom of the problem instead of working together to fix the problem... but in a world run by lawyers who drive cars, and generally people being pressured to live ever-faster - often instead of actually more efficiently - what do you expect...?

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