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LCC backs CPS protest but fails to cover lorry deaths
3.07.09 by Buffalo Bill

There’s a protest outside the offices of the Crown Prosecution Service today at 4pm. The CPS is the body in charge of bringing criminal cases to the courts. The police gather the evidence, but it is the CPS that decides which cases to pursue. They also decide whether a driver should prosecuted for causing death by careless driving, or simply careless driving (also referred to as driving without due care and attention).

Kate Cairns, sister of Eilidh Cairns, killed in a collision with an HGV in Notting Hill, said, “It seems that ‘Sorry mate I didn’t see you’ is enough for the Crown Prosecution Service. Is that all a driver has to say to get away with killing a cyclist?”

The quote above is from the London Cycling Campaign’s press release. Also in the press release is this quote:

LCC communications officer Mike Cavenett said, “Until drivers are called to account for their actions, we should expect more preventable deaths and injuries. On too many occasions, not seeing someone really means not paying attention or going too fast.”

I agree with these statements, and I applaud the LCC for backing this campaign. However, I find it slightly bizarre that although the LCC has been very active in the campaign to reduce the number of cyclists killed by HGV/lorries, there is no mention on their news section of any of the deaths so far this year. Maybe I’m missing something, but wouldn’t it help to mobilize support from their membership, which is many thousands strong, if the LCC was gave more publicity to the deaths? And given how little information there often is out there about cyclist deaths, isn’t this omission somewhat strange?

There is this campaign page called ‘Eliminating London’s lorry danger’, but surely the death of London cyclists is news that the LCC should be covering in detail?

Causing death by careless driving prosecutions
Drunk driver who killed cyclist has sentence halved on appeal
5 years since Seb was killed
Causing death by careless driving
Lorry driver not to blame for death of cyclist

  1. The only way you can get the CPS to prosecute is if you have a camera and are filming your rides. The CPS will not act without overwhelming evidence. Their only standard for prosecutions is cost, the cheaper a case is the better the change of it going forward. This attitude has permeated all levels of the Criminal Justice System, so we now have the situation where a solicitor is paid more if their client pleads guilty than if they plead not guilty. Right and Wrong, Justice and law don’t matter. Its all about money.

    — johnsatisfaction    4 July 2009, 14:26    #
  2. No cyclist death goes unnoticed at LCC nor fails to be brought to the attention of decision-makers. However, our website is read by over half a million visitors each year – 50 times our membership. A large proportion of these people are new or inexperienced cyclists looking for advice and encouragement. Considering the relatively small number of news stories we cover, it would give a false impression of the risk of cycling in London if we covered every death in extensive detail. Messages that go out exclusively to members and supporters are often quite different from what’s on our website.

    As you mention, LCC consistently campaigns to reduce the number of lorry deaths, pushing for many different measures – improved safety features on HGVs – removing lorries that are too dangerous for London roads – more education for drivers and cyclists – new methods of freight consolidation to reduce the number of lorries in the city – better design of roads and junctions to keep HGVs away from cyclists – tougher sentencing for negligent drivers – and the creation of a standing commission to give lorry deaths the political priority they deserve. We think this is far more effective than blanket coverage of cyclist fatalities.

    Mike Cavenett, LCC Communications officer    10 July 2009, 17:57    #
  3. its so sad to read news like this! i’m trying to convince my girlfriend its a good idea to cycle in london. but i feel that in a way (i know this is going to sound harsh!) it was her fault! more education is needed for cyclists i and many other cyclists know that if you go up the inside of a lorry the driver can’t see you! so please don’t do it! were allowed to go around the outside of a lane of traffic, were entitled to the full width of the lane so use it!! :) i’m not excusing the lorry driver in any way shape or form! just ride safe guys!

    g-reg    11 July 2009, 09:23    #
  4. Who was at fault?are you talking about Elidih?

    — overdrive    13 July 2009, 14:36    #
  5. Eilidh was on the right hand side of the lorry that killed her. No witnesses have come forward so we don’t know what happened; it’s possible that the lorry moved out from the left and ran her over from behind.

    In the other deaths, I have seen NO credible witness statements to suggest that the cyclists moved up on the left hand side of the lorries that killed them. Again it is perfectly possible that the lorries overtook them and then turned left. This scenario is especially plausible in the case of the Elephant & Castle death.

    In at least one case, the death of Adrianna Skrzypiec, the driver failed to stop, so even a statement from the driver is lacking.

    So please don’t jump to conclusions based on incomplete or totally absent evidence.

    — Bill    13 July 2009, 16:57    #
  6. As Mike says the London Cycling Campaign is not primarily a news outlet. When we do cover the crisis in lack of HGV safety for vulnerable road users we tend to focus on possible solutions, such as the cover story on the April issue of our London Cyclist magazine.

    One of the problems with highlighting every fatality is that a false impression of the risks of cycling is created, the local and national media do this already. For example in last week’s coverage of the HGV – cyclist issue by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour the presenter said that cycling could be bad for your health and that women were more at risk than men – neither of these statements is true. Cycling has doubled in London in recent years, the HGV casualty numbers has stayed much the same, it is still appalling but the rate of casualties is declining.

    It is worth remembering that less than a third of the HGV related deaths of unprotected road users in London are cyclists; the rest are pedestrians and motorcyclists. Our main focus for campaigning on the HGV issue is to get the transport industry and the Department for Transport to realise that there is a lack of safety awareness and effective safe operation within the industry. Encouraging the Department for Justice and the CPS to raise their game is part of this campaign.

    Charlie Lloyd    15 July 2009, 12:09    #
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