A Dorset cyclist who needed to be treated in hospital after suffering cuts and bruises when he was knocked off his bike by a car while riding on an off-road shared use path has expressed his frustration after learning that the only action taken against the motorist involved was to offer her a place on a driver awareness course.
Mike Anwyll, aged 51, whose bike was written off in the incident, told the Bournemouth Echo that he couldn't understand Dorset Police's decision.
He told the newspaper: “It felt like a bomb had gone off under the bike – I didn’t realise what had happened at first.
“My issue is not really with the driver. It’s with the police over the lack of consistency in these things.
“For instance, my father-in-law was fined and got penalty points for doing 36mph at 4am on his way to the airport.
“On the other hand, I get knocked over by someone who loses control, mounts the pavement and crosses a grass verge on to the designated cycle path. This doesn’t make sense.”
A look at Gravel Hill in Poole on Google Street View shows that a shared use path runs alongside the road in several stretches, separated form the main carriageway by a grass verge that is at least one metre wide and in some places much wider.
The cyclist complained to Dorset Police and received a reply in which a representative of the force stated: “I have concluded that the driver was sufficiently blameworthy to justify further police action.
“In view of the poor driving judgement shown, I intend to make an offer of attendance on a driver awareness course.
“While there is sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, there is no provision in law for a magistrate to order such retraining and the imposition of a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits.”
However, Mr Anwyll, who commutes by bike to his work each day as an electrician and now has 21 days to reply to the police’s letter, said: “I find that a really strange admission to make, that fines and points don’t have any effect as far as driving habits are concerned.”
He added that the motorist had said that the incident had been caused by an issue with her vehicle’s steering, although if a mechanical problem is to blame, that doesn’t seem to tally with the police’s decision to offer her a place on a driver awareness course.
A spokesman for Dorset Police told the Bournemouth Echo that they were unable to comment on individual cases but added: “Every case is different and all the evidence will have been looked at.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.