CPS drops case against cyclist who ‘jumped’ red light for his own safety

Common sense prevails

by John Stevenson   November 28, 2013  

Alex Paxton Lavender Hill Mags Crt Oct 16th

The Crown Prosecution Service has abandoned legal action against a cyclist who appealed a fixed penalty notice for failing to stop at a red light. Alex Paxton was issued the fixed penalty notice in August when he stopped in front of an advanced stop line because the cyclists’ box behind it was occupied by a car.

The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case this week on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of a conviction.

Alex had intended to position himself in the cyclists’ box in order to turn right. In order to avoid having to cross three lanes of moving traffic, he decided to position himself ahead of the traffic and ahead of the advanced stop line.

A police officer saw Alex cross the line and radioed a colleague, who stopped the cyclist along the road he had turned into and gave him the fixed penalty notice. Having not seen the incident, the officer that issued the fine could not assess the greater risk Alex would have been in had he positioned himself behind the white line. Alex was unaware whether the car driver had also been given a fixed-penalty notice.

Alex took advice from the Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) who confirmed they would help with his legal costs and a crowdfunding campaign raised over £2,600 toward them. He pleaded not guilty in an intial hearing and was due to appear in court again on December 5.

Miss Puneet Rai, of Thomas More Chambers, who acted for Mr Paxton, said: “I am very pleased that common sense has prevailed. In making this decision the CPS clearly accepted that in the circumstances Alex had no real option than to act as he did to ensure his own safety.

“Of course road traffic laws have to be obeyed but not to the point that cyclists are forced to place themselves in danger in order to do so. It's very important that any cyclist who finds themselves in a similar situation is aware of their rights, and their ability to challenge a Fixed Penalty Notice or a prosecution in such circumstances.”

The CPS dropping the action against Alex comes as it emerged today that a Metropolitan Police memo issued after six riders recently died on London’s streets instructed officers to fine 10 cyclists per month.

Rhia Weston, CDF co-ordinator at CTC said: "CTC fully supports increased roads policing, as cyclists' safety depends on everyone using the roads in a safe and responsible manner. However if the police want to encourage respect for the law, they need to focus their resources on tackling the real sources of road danger, rather than simply issuing fines to meet targets."

The Cyclists’ Defence Fund’s advice and the CTC have recently set up formal links that should enable the two charities to work more closely together. CDF provides advice on what a rider should do if they are involved in a crash or criminal case. Riders can apply for help from the CDF though its website.

24 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

serious question, if i am caught by police doing the same does this set any kind of precidence because there has been no ruling?

Would it just be a case by case basis and assume the CPS will back down????

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1465 posts]
28th November 2013 - 12:41

18 Likes

mrmo wrote:
serious question, if i am caught by police doing the same does this set any kind of precidence because there has been no ruling?

Would it just be a case by case basis and assume the CPS will back down????


I doubt it sets a presedent because it was dropped rather than concluded. Having said that, I'd rather put my safety above the worry of being given a ticket so if I find myself in the same situation, I will be doing the same as Alex did and deal with any consequences afterwards!

posted by AyBee [85 posts]
28th November 2013 - 12:59

20 Likes

It sets no precedent. Only an appeal on a point of law or procedure after a conviction would have done that. Hopefully it will be of some "educational" value to the police though.

posted by deblemund [182 posts]
28th November 2013 - 13:04

12 Likes

mrmo wrote:
serious question, if i am caught by police doing the same does this set any kind of precidence because there has been no ruling?

Afraid not. Even if it had have reached the magistrates, it wouldn't have either.

posted by dp24 [196 posts]
28th November 2013 - 13:05

10 Likes

why did the pc not have a word with the driver on the ASL At Wits End

posted by viveLaPants [93 posts]
28th November 2013 - 13:13

17 Likes

Thanks, i thought it would have had to go to appeal to get a precident set.

But as mentioned, hopefully the CPS and police will have learnt something and won't do it again. Running red lights is wrong but the law around ASLs is crap!

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1465 posts]
28th November 2013 - 13:21

11 Likes

If I am the eleventh cyclist to be booked in the month, can I appeal!

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1039 posts]
28th November 2013 - 14:24

15 Likes

Whilst im happy that common sense prevailed for the ticket...

"In order to avoid having to cross three lanes of moving traffic"

My mind is struggling to figure this out. Why could he not have joined any traffic filtering into the 3rd lane to turn right and waited like the rest of them?
You dont 'have' to use the advance box especially if there is a queue leading upto it. Sounds like he went from nearside lane one to this box....shouldve moved out a lot sooner 'taking the road' to do so. Advance boxes arent meant to replace road sense!

I could be totally wrong and missing something here...please tell me I am.

posted by Farky [183 posts]
28th November 2013 - 14:27

11 Likes

Funny. I was just referring to this in a post this morning

"I went and had a look at the unedited version's. Just a quick scan through, because I was only looking for one issues that is to do with cyclists.

Motor's filling the ASL....Here is a prime example of what people thing is legal, but in my eye's, what this van driver does in illegal because the lights were already changing.

http://youtu.be/5aeYVju0Vzk?t=20m15s

The first three vehilce's turning right were ok, The white van, the blue car and then silver 4x4, but watch the next van. He had time to stop short of the ASL but went right over it.

What happens now if a cyclist wishes to turn right? This harks back to the cyclist who was fined for jumping a red light last month (I think) because the ASL was full and he went ahead of the traffic....there was quite some debate on it.

What are your thoughts?"

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9080 posts]
28th November 2013 - 14:37

9 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
Funny. I was just referring to this in a post this morning

"I went and had a look at the unedited version's. Just a quick scan through, because I was only looking for one issues that is to do with cyclists.

Motor's filling the ASL....Here is a prime example of what people thing is legal, but in my eye's, what this van driver does in illegal because the lights were already changing.

http://youtu.be/5aeYVju0Vzk?t=20m15s

The first three vehilce's turning right were ok, The white van, the blue car and then silver 4x4, but watch the next van. He had time to stop short of the ASL but went right over it.

What happens now if a cyclist wishes to turn right? This harks back to the cyclist who was fined for jumping a red light last month (I think) because the ASL was full and he went ahead of the traffic....there was quite some debate on it.

What are your thoughts?"

Yes - the van is in the wrong, should be ticketed.
Any cyclist following in the same lane should already have moved out to turn right in the same lane and await behind with other traffic.
You do not approach a Right turn in the nearside/left gutter, using an advance box to mover over infront of traffic. That is incorrect use of box also. Thats my point above.

posted by Farky [183 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:12

14 Likes

Farky wrote:
Whilst im happy that common sense prevailed for the ticket...

"In order to avoid having to cross three lanes of moving traffic"

My mind is struggling to figure this out. Why could he not have joined any traffic filtering into the 3rd lane to turn right and waited like the rest of them?
You dont 'have' to use the advance box especially if there is a queue leading upto it. Sounds like he went from nearside lane one to this box....shouldve moved out a lot sooner 'taking the road' to do so. Advance boxes arent meant to replace road sense!

I could be totally wrong and missing something here...please tell me I am.

You're not wrong but the way ASLs are designed and the rules around them are.

ASLs typically have a filter lane on the nearside (even if it's a multi-lane set-up) and this is the only legitimate way to enter the ASL. Moving into the correct lane early and then filtering along the white line is also allowed but you must not cross the fist stop line i.e. you have to stay out of the ASL in the same way that a car would. This design effectivly leads cyclists to stick to the nearside, filter into the ASL and move accross to the position appropriote to where they want to go. The designers of these junctions don't want cyclists to move into the correct lane and merge with other traffic for whatever reason. The guy in this case behaved exactly as the road designers envisaged but was caught out because a motorist did not do likewise. The cyclist actually proceeded in exactly the way that the designers of the juction wanted - by moving ahead of the motors waiting at the lights and positioning correctly.

FWIW I'm pleased that the right decision was made in this case.

posted by Matt eaton [520 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:22

11 Likes

Farky wrote:
Gkam84 wrote:
Funny. I was just referring to this in a post this morning

"I went and had a look at the unedited version's. Just a quick scan through, because I was only looking for one issues that is to do with cyclists.

Motor's filling the ASL....Here is a prime example of what people thing is legal, but in my eye's, what this van driver does in illegal because the lights were already changing.

http://youtu.be/5aeYVju0Vzk?t=20m15s

The first three vehilce's turning right were ok, The white van, the blue car and then silver 4x4, but watch the next van. He had time to stop short of the ASL but went right over it.

What happens now if a cyclist wishes to turn right? This harks back to the cyclist who was fined for jumping a red light last month (I think) because the ASL was full and he went ahead of the traffic....there was quite some debate on it.

What are your thoughts?"

Yes - the van is in the wrong, should be ticketed.
Any cyclist following in the same lane should already have moved out to turn right in the same lane and await behind with other traffic.
You do not approach a Right turn in the nearside/left gutter, using an advance box to mover over infront of traffic. That is incorrect use of box also. Thats my point above.

I've got to disagree there. I think that this is exactly how ASLs are designed to be used by right turning cyclists. It's a bad design and not something that I'd recommend doing but it is how ASLs are supposed to work.

posted by Matt eaton [520 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:28

21 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:

You're not wrong but the way ASLs are designed and the rules around them are.

ASLs typically have a filter lane on the nearside (even if it's a multi-lane set-up) and this is the only legitimate way to enter the ASL. Moving into the correct lane early and then filtering along the white line is also allowed but you must not cross the fist stop line, i.e. you have to stay out of the ASL in the same way that a car would.

Turns out I am a regular law breaker on my bike then! (and will continue to be so, because I think it is safer to enter the ASL this way.)

Dedicated cycling price comparison | http://www.leadoutbikes.com

posted by mckechan [200 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:30

12 Likes

The cyclist trapped in the left of an ASB always has a third option: stay where he is and signal right waiting for a motorist to let him move across, or wait for the light to turn red again and reposition himself in the ASB. Sure it's a pain in the ass and costs him 45 seconds, but he does get through the junction with his safety and his finances both intact.

posted by chokofingrz [335 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:39

9 Likes

Unfortunate - it would have set a useful precedent (when he would have been acquitted, that is).

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [591 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:49

8 Likes

mckechan wrote:
Matt eaton wrote:

You're not wrong but the way ASLs are designed and the rules around them are.

ASLs typically have a filter lane on the nearside (even if it's a multi-lane set-up) and this is the only legitimate way to enter the ASL. Moving into the correct lane early and then filtering along the white line is also allowed but you must not cross the fist stop line, i.e. you have to stay out of the ASL in the same way that a car would.

Turns out I am a regular law breaker on my bike then! (and will continue to be so, because I think it is safer to enter the ASL this way.)

I think you are doing the right thing. I don't see a lot of ASLs because of where I live/cycle but I'm always in favour of being in the right lane vs the wrong one. ASLs seem a bit mad to me but then again I'm not a regular city cyclist. Although you are technically RLJing I don't think you're likely to get pinched for it (many police officers don't understand the rules fully and those who do realise that they are too complicated and difficult to follow) so I say carry on as you are!

posted by Matt eaton [520 posts]
28th November 2013 - 15:51

11 Likes

Right decision made, he should never have gone to court.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2889 posts]
28th November 2013 - 16:01

10 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:
Farky wrote:
Whilst im happy that common sense prevailed for the ticket...

"In order to avoid having to cross three lanes of moving traffic"

My mind is struggling to figure this out. Why could he not have joined any traffic filtering into the 3rd lane to turn right and waited like the rest of them?
You dont 'have' to use the advance box especially if there is a queue leading upto it. Sounds like he went from nearside lane one to this box....shouldve moved out a lot sooner 'taking the road' to do so. Advance boxes arent meant to replace road sense!

I could be totally wrong and missing something here...please tell me I am.

You're not wrong but the way ASLs are designed and the rules around them are.

ASLs typically have a filter lane on the nearside (even if it's a multi-lane set-up) and this is the only legitimate way to enter the ASL. Moving into the correct lane early and then filtering along the white line is also allowed but you must not cross the fist stop line i.e. you have to stay out of the ASL in the same way that a car would. This design effectivly leads cyclists to stick to the nearside, filter into the ASL and move accross to the position appropriote to where they want to go. The designers of these junctions don't want cyclists to move into the correct lane and merge with other traffic for whatever reason. The guy in this case behaved exactly as the road designers envisaged but was caught out because a motorist did not do likewise. The cyclist actually proceeded in exactly the way that the designers of the juction wanted - by moving ahead of the motors waiting at the lights and positioning correctly.

FWIW I'm pleased that the right decision was made in this case.

WOW!

Never knew that...is it written somewhere like that or just an unwritten rule.

Completely insane along with cycles lanes up inside at lights/junctions.

At least how I know why this came about though.

Surprised the 2nd cop issue hasnt been brought up - he didnt 'see' the offence and therefore cant book for it.

posted by Farky [183 posts]
28th November 2013 - 16:24

12 Likes

what action happens to the officer that issued and signed a fixed penalty notice that he had witnessed a traffic violation when that was untrue?

Sure the cops can ask a colleague to stop a cyclist but then surely the office witnessing the offence needs to sign the FP notice that this is what they saw.

This was part of the defence case that the officer issuing had not seen or been able to consider the facts before making a judgement.

Is there any comeback on this which is either a cavalier approach to signing what is in effect a sworn statement that you witnessed something that you didn't.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [791 posts]
28th November 2013 - 17:38

14 Likes

Well perhaps a telling off by his boss, but any further sanction would just be even more petty minded bureaucracy.

posted by drfabulous0 [404 posts]
28th November 2013 - 23:07

6 Likes

chokofingrz wrote:
The cyclist trapped in the left of an ASB always has a third option: stay where he is and signal right waiting for a motorist to let him move across, or wait for the light to turn red again and reposition himself in the ASB. Sure it's a pain in the ass and costs him 45 seconds, but he does get through the junction with his safety and his finances both intact.

Gets through intact, as long as there's no left turning tipper truck.

It's crazy- why is incompetent road design allowed to delay cyclists every time? Aren't we meant to be encouraging physical activity?

posted by a.jumper [736 posts]
29th November 2013 - 8:44

7 Likes

Farky asked
"WOW!

Never knew that...is it written somewhere like that or just an unwritten rule."

Here's the reg

Regulation 43 (2) of the 'Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002' states: -
Where the road markings (in reference to advanced stop lines) has been placed in conjunction with light signals, the "stop line" in relation to those light signals means -
(a) the first stop line, in the case of a vehicle (other than a pedal cycle PROCEEDING IN THE CYCLE LANE) which has not proceeded beyond that line; or
(b) the second stop line, in the case of a vehicle which has proceeded beyond the first stop line or of a pedal cycle proceeding in the cycle lane.

So the pedal cycle has to enter the ASL zone via the cycle lane. Not ideal, but that's the law as it stands.

posted by Kendal Brat [5 posts]
29th November 2013 - 9:19

9 Likes

Kendal Brat wrote:
Farky asked

So the pedal cycle has to enter the ASL zone via the cycle lane. Not ideal, but that's the law as it stands.

Thought not - it doesnt actually forbid the entering of an advance box from any direction by cyclists, it just recommends the use of the cycle lane as per design. The only words used are 'may' on the DfT advice leaflet produced for this new legislation in 2002.

CycleCraft, for what its worth, recommends only riding through the 1st Stop line prior to the light being Red, but also recommends not using the cycle lane unless the traffic is stationary.

All this points to ASL's adding directly to the cause of deaths where HGV Left turns have been the actual cause. This design encourages cyclists to ride up the inside even to turn right.....what if you get up the inside and the box is too crowded to move over, forcing you to wait in a dangerous position. You may not be able to see if the box is clear to do so due to the traffic.

No way in hell would I use a nearside cycle lane as any part of a Right Turn at lights! Suicide.

posted by Farky [183 posts]
29th November 2013 - 10:56

9 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
what action happens to the officer that issued and signed a fixed penalty notice that he had witnessed a traffic violation when that was untrue?

Sure the cops can ask a colleague to stop a cyclist but then surely the office witnessing the offence needs to sign the FP notice that this is what they saw.

This was part of the defence case that the officer issuing had not seen or been able to consider the facts before making a judgement.

Is there any comeback on this which is either a cavalier approach to signing what is in effect a sworn statement that you witnessed something that you didn't.

Rather than 'common sense prevailing' I think you will find this is the only reason the case has been dropped but there is no way they are going to admit it as the police are already in enough trouble with statements made up over that MP.

posted by Farky [183 posts]
29th November 2013 - 11:06

9 Likes