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Alliston Case Should Give Us Cause To Examine Public Space Usage

Does This Incident Show That It's Time To Make Changes?


The case of the cyclist Charlie Alliston, whose 'wanton and furious driving' resulted in the tragic death of Kim Briggs, is all over the news following Mr Alliston's conviction. At the time of writing he is awaiting sentence and it seems highly likely that this teenage ex-cycle courier will serve time in jail. From the point of view of a blogger and cyclist there is so much to comment upon it can't be confined to just one piece. It is also a case which will inevitably divide and polarise opinion, with cyclists on one side and the rest of the world on the other.


"Collisions with pedestrians are something which cyclists have to be wary of at all times especially when cycling in the urban environment"


This case highlights that it is not just motorised vehicles that cyclists have to contend with on a daily basis. The phenomenon of cyclists being seemingly invisible to drivers also appears to extend to pedestrians . This particular case has fixated upon the absence of a front brake on Mr Alliston's bicycle and the prosecution based their case on this. However, in putting that and the legality (or otherwise) of the bike to one side, collisions with pedestrians are something which cyclists have to be wary of at all times especially when cycling in the urban environment.

Many cities have tried to improve infrastructure to accommodate an ever-increasing number of humans, whether they be on 2 feet, two or more wheels. Frequently though separation between pavements and cycle paths can become blurred. I have seen many instances where pedestrians seem to have treated cycle lanes as an extension of the pavement, stepping out in front of fast-moving cyclists and placing themselves at risk.  Likewise we see cars parked in cycle lanes all the time, forcing cyclists to deviate and potentially put themselves into dangerous situations.

It seems to me that urban pedestrians need to become more aware than ever of the dangers posed by other non-motorised road users. Matters are not helped by people wandering around glued to their mobile devices, wearing headphones and so on. Fortunately the case of Mr Alliston is an isolated and very unusual one. The physics of collisions between bicycles and pedestrians means that the vast majority of the time the injuries suffered, if any, are minimal save for bruised pride and embarrassment. Let us hope any future incidents result in injuries no more serious than that.

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