BBC Radio 4's Law in Action ran a piece this week on cyclists and the law.
It had me shouting at Joshua Rozenberg's lazily opinionated anti-cyclist ramble (cyclists all think the law doesn't apply to them, cycling is dangerous etc) and MP Andrea Leadsom's aims to bring in a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.
Thanks to the BBC's Shout Again facility, you can hear it for the next few days - the relevant bit starts at 21:00.
Rozenberg referred to the infamous 2007 Rhiannon Bennett case, where the unfortunate teenager was knocked down and killed by a 'speeding' cyclist . Just like the tabloids' frothing reports of the incident, he didn't mention that the young woman had been drinking, or that the collision may have actually taken place on the road, or that 'speeding' meant '17mph'.
(Dangerous on a pavement yes - but hardly on a road. And play this game: switch the circumstances of the Bennett case. Imagine a cyclist who has been drinking with his friends in the park. He then wobbles on, or possibly off, the pavement. A car doing 17mph in a 30mph limit collides with the cyclist, probably on the road, having shouted 'Move over, I'm not stopping'. The cyclist, who was not wearing a helmet, falls off and later dies from a head injury. Put that to most people and they'd say it's clearly the cyclist's fault.)
The reactions of Bennett's parents are understandable. As are those of the relatives of Eilidh Cairns, the experienced and confident London cyclist killed by an HGV driver with defective eyesight. The man responsible, Joao Lopes, was fined £200 and got three points on his licence. He continued driving, and is now being questioned by the police in connection with the death of a pedestrian in Marylebone Road in June.
Compare that to the punishment received by Bennett's killer, who was fined £2,200, and it's hard to see how - as Rozenberg's glib introduction to the radio piece suggests - cyclists are 'getting an easy ride' from the law.
The whole question of pavement cycling is trickier than it looks, as law'n'cycling blogger Joren Knibbe explains. He's the one rolled out in the programme as 'representing the cyclist', but it's all a bit clunky - it seems the programme makers, and Rozenberg, don't really have much idea what point they're making. Neither do I.
Overall, a poor effort from the Law in Action team.
Still, don't take my word for it. Listen and decide for yourself what to yell at your iPlayer.
PS The BBC reports today that a lorry driver doing 55mph in a 40mph limit and using a phone was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving after he mowed down a cyclist on the A40 last year.
PS 2 I've just found Joren's UKCycleRules blog post about how the programme turned out from his point of view. Not overjoyed, I think it's fair to say.
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