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.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.