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.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.