Suspended sentence for lorry driver who admitted killing A1 time trial cyclist

News of punishment comes in week when APPCG expected to urge government to get tough on drivers

by Simon_MacMichael   April 22, 2013  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A lorry driver who admitted killing a cyclist taking part in a time trial on the A1 has received a suspended sentence and been banned for driving for two years. The sentence comes as the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group prepares to publish its Get Britain Cycling report, which is expected to recommend tougher penalties in cases where cyclists are killed or injured.

Nigel Drake, aged 43 and from Goole, East Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to causing the death by careless driving on Sunday 18 March last year of cyclist Andrew Ridsdale, also aged 43 and from Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

Drake told Nottingham Crown Court that he had not seen the rider until it was too late and he ran into the back of him a mile south of Blyth Services, near Doncaster, reports the Worksop Guardian.

However, the court was told by prosecuting counsel Dawn Pritchard that the victim “was wearing the correct, distinctive gear and a helmet. He was a competent, experienced cyclist.”

Drake, who said he had tried in vain to avoid hitting the cyclist once he had spotted him, claimed there was no warning that the time trial was taking place although he said he had later learned that there was a sign, 12 inches from the ground, at the point where the event’s course joined the A1.

The court was told that the incident had left Drake traumatised, that his driving record was good, and that he had stayed at the scene.
Judge Sampson, sentencing him to 26 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, a two-year driving ban and ordering him to pay costs of £1,500, said that the rider would have been visible from some distance.

 

15 user comments

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The organisers have a part of responsability too, organising cycling events along such roads without traffic restrictions is simply suicidal. I drove past a time trial on the A11 towards Norwich last year and I was shocked! I would not even consider taking part in such madness.

Francois.L

posted by Francois [9 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 10:20

3 Likes

It's nice to finally see a driving ban given out. They're far too rare in instances like these. 2 years seems too lenient though.

posted by Hollisharri [41 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 10:28

2 Likes

Francois wrote:
The organisers have a part of responsability too, organising cycling events along such roads without traffic restrictions is simply suicidal. I drove past a time trial on the A11 towards Norwich last year and I was shocked! I would not even consider taking part in such madness.

It is almost impossible to run closed road events in most of the UK because the rules of the road have been slanted in favour of motor vehicles.

The size or lack of signage has nothing to do with the death of this cyclist. The driver wasn't paying adequate attention to what he was doing. A suspended sentence is not enough, he gets to live the rest of his life, his victim does not, and a 2 year driving ban is also inadequate and should come with a requirement to resit his driving test.

It matters not whether it is a time-triallist or a Sunday cyclist, they have a right to be on the road and the law should be changed so that incidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles are assumed to be the fault of the person in charge of the motor vehicle unless they can prove otherwise. Guilty until proven innocent?; Yes, why not? When you are in charge of a vehicle weighing in excess of 1000Kg it is your responsibility to ensure you cause no harm to other road users.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [628 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 11:00

2 Likes

Jova54 hit the nail on the head, it's your responsibility as a road user to watch out for danger, not the victim. You can ban events all you want, but we have a right to be on the roads and a change in attitude has to take place amongst drivers, too many vulnerable road users are dying, cyclists and pedestrians.

posted by nappe [44 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 11:41

2 Likes

Surely if this happened a mile south on the A1 ,the driver would have already passed another rider 1 minute previously?? or was he too close to the ground and missed him just like the sign, sad that life on Britains roads is still far too cheap

IanW

iwortley56's picture

posted by iwortley56 [3 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 11:56

2 Likes

I've got to agree with Francois. 30 years ago I was a regular commuter on the A1 from Lincolnshire to Scotland and would not have dreamed of going along it on my bike then. Nowadays it must be pure suicide. Is there no body, police sporting or other, that gives advice on suitable routes? I could agree with jova54 in many cases and routes but picking the A1 as part of a time trial route is pure stupidity.

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 13:12

1 Like

Both arguments are valid.

On one hand drivers have responsibility to look out for more vulnerable road users and there should be no excuses for SMIDSY and on the other hand cycling on such busy roads in a low profile position increases the chance of you being killed or injured judging from disproportionately high number of deaths during TT events.
Perhaps something like compulsory uber bright (+1000 lumens) rear strobe lights would help?

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [188 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 13:22

2 Likes

Impossible to tell from the reports I've seen exactly where this happened; however, for a vehicle travelling south, the junction where Blyth Services is located marks the end of a long motorway stretch of the A1(M).

It wasn't cited as a factor here, but I do wonder if there's a mental readjustment from driving on a motorway which then turns into a non-motorway dual carriageway 9the road carrying straight on, with no junction as such to negotiate), especially when you're covering a mile in a minute or less...?

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 14:17

2 Likes

I think most people drive on 70mph dual carriageways, especially with "motorway" style juntions, as if they are motorways, with little or no mental readjustment, so really tend not to expect cyclists.

posted by Al__S [645 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 14:39

2 Likes

Frankly seeing as he was driving during his work, I don't see why the company cannot face a charge of corporate manslaughter.

Blaming the cyclist is wrong. He was legally entitled to ride on that road, and was riding responsibly and safely with hi-viz and helmet. He had EVERY right to expect to be safe.

It is purely the driver's responsibility to look out, and subsequent failure to see the cyclist in plenty of time.

Around here we have lots of dual carriageways with limits from 40 to 70mph, and sometimes little or no alternative as unlike m-ways there is no adjacent route for prohibited vehicles.

posted by gazza_d [273 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 19:14

3 Likes

It's not compulsory! is it? Freedom of choice is what life is about.

posted by Krd51 [21 posts]
22nd April 2013 - 20:07

3 Likes

In pure road engineering terms there are a lot of pluses in using dual carriageways for time trials compared with quieter roads:- better forward visibility, 2+ lanes to allow safe overtaking, no risk from overtaking oncoming vehicles, fewer junctions with more controlled traffic flows, better surface conditions... and I understand that the limited stats available do tend to show fewer accidents in TTs held on dual carriageways compared with single carriageway courses

The difficulty comes where lack of driver awareness (in similar previous cases driving past signs and then near missing a series of riders at 1 minute intervals before the final collision) does cause a collision, as any injury is likely to be more severe.

While it's clear that any event's risk assessment, signing and marshaling should be pushed to be as effective as possible, there surely must be an effort in driver education as well?

At current trends the numbers of pedestrians and cyclist KSIs nationally will soon exceed the numbers of KSIs among vehicle occupants.... now that is scary.

posted by CarlosFerreiro [67 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 0:58

3 Likes

The A1? On the route I ride Oxford-Cambridge from time to time, I have to ride maybe 50 metres of it (staggered crossing). My least favourite, white-knuckle moment of the entire ride. Why I would ride a TT on it is beyond me.

(Still doesn't excuse killing me, or any other cyclist on it).

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [591 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 6:45

3 Likes

The rider has an absolute right to be on a non-motorway road, or one that does not carry restriction on cyclists. However, the wisdom of being on it is another matter.
The issue may well lie with the ludicrous time trial culture, where "times" and "PB" are a be-all and end-all, so organisers respond to rider demands for events on "fast" courses. The riders then "race" on these courses, record a "fast" time, and that counts for everything. Sadly, the cost of running these events (apart from the reaction of anyone thinking "why are they doing this, it's crazy?") can be seen by the reports of people losing their lives.
Unless and until CTT take a national grip on this, abandon times and fixed distances, institute a points/ranking system based on comparative placings, I cannot see things improving.

The culture is simply, wrong.
Both the TT culture and the culture where it's OK to claim "I didn't see xxx so I killed xxx but it's not really my fault" and then walk away with a shortish ban, no extended retest requirement, a fine, and a suspended short sentence. That is plain lack of responsibility, but then those sitting in judgment are drivers too, and may even think "there but for the grace of God go I".

The rights exist and should be protected, but, as my old dad would always say, "there's no use in being DEAD right".

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 9:00

2 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Impossible to tell from the reports I've seen exactly where this happened; however, for a vehicle travelling south, the junction where Blyth Services is located marks the end of a long motorway stretch of the A1(M).

It wasn't cited as a factor here, but I do wonder if there's a mental readjustment from driving on a motorway which then turns into a non-motorway dual carriageway 9the road carrying straight on, with no junction as such to negotiate), especially when you're covering a mile in a minute or less...?

I agree with Simon with this. Up to a few years ago there was a roundabout to negotiate to get to the services and acted as a break between the A1(M) and A1. Now it is an underpass and if the driver is not concentrating they are unaware that the road type has changed and they are going to come across road users. An epic fail on behalf of the planners.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1068 posts]
23rd April 2013 - 9:39

2 Likes