Friday 14 December 2012

Fucked by Justice

What happened in the courts today shows that Britain thinks cyclists are expendable; a slight inconvenience for drivers. Door one when you illegally tinted your windows? You won't even get enough of a conviction to see your premiums go up.

As for the lorry driver: on the phone, not looking, yet "careless?". You don't kill someone through carelessness. Careless is forgetting where you left your keys.

Even he must have known he did something wrong -because he lied about being on the phone. He knew he should have been looking -after the fact.

Meanwhile, over in Cambridge, the police are cracking down on cyclists who cycle on the pavement.

Everyone should buy a copy of the Times tomorrow -not just  to see what they print, but to show your support for their campaign.

And then what? If justice is broken -how do we fix it?

Everyone who cycles needs to go to their local "police meets community" meetings. They may seem a waste of time -but that's what directs police resources -and nowadays that means against cyclists.

You all need to go, and get your needs addressed, but subtly, in a way that even the cyclist-haters can come round to

  1. "I think school parents park really dangerously round school XYZ". If you do the school run by bike, you'll fear actually arriving near the school, and of course it's just as bad walking. Make clear that pedestrian safety is one of your concerns, so you can't be boxed as "a cyclist"
  2. "Speeding cars mean I can't cross roads safely". Again, pedestrian safety. How can the anti pavement cyclists complain there.
  3. Drivers on phones, especially texting, nearly hit me at (cite some recent example, especially at a zebra crossing".
  4. Cars don't stop for me at zebra crossings; run predestrian lights at junction XYZ. Again, cite places where this happens.
Can you see the commonality. Instead of complaining about the actions that endanger you on a bike, the actions that endanger everyone on foot. That stops it being lawbreaking cyclists unfit to complain "until they get their own house in order",  but instead people who walk round the city -proper citizens, yet ones who still get treated like shit in a society that places driving above all else.

What else? 

Press coverage. This could maybe, just maybe, be something to bring the Daily Mail and its readers around. Yes they hate cyclists, yes they want to ban them from the streets, but they also believe criminals should get what they deserve. A lorry driver (from abroad!) who leaves a woman in hospital for life pays a few thousand pounds and will be driving -on the phone again- within a year. Even they could resent that. 

But how to get the Daily Mail to even mention it. That's the next challenge. And a hard one.

1 comment:

  1. I think you'll struggle with the Fail. Their readership (those who are not senile or blind at any rate, which probably takes out a fair chunk) are mainly drivers.

    I don't really blame the police. Look what happens when they take a case all the way. Even if they can get it past the lazy jobsworths at the CPS, they founder in court. Why? Because of the jury system.

    I am not condemning the jury system - far from it, we need it as a shield against an overmighty state, just as we need fundamental concepts such as presumption of innocence (which itself is no longer entirely universal) and non-reference to previous offences like Bieu's tachograph offences. Otherwise we are inviting yet more Guildford 4s or Bridgewater 3s.

    But, if you were now trying the Kray twins, would you not filter out all the east end gansters when you select your jury? Otherwise, would you be surprised if they said "they are villains, true, but they're not bad lads, and the luv their muvva" and acquitted them?

    Similarly, officers of the court do their best to exclude from any jury panel any person who has too close a connection to the case, or the defendannt, victim, or subject matter.

    I'll bet the defence briefs asked jurors on the selection panel if they were cyclists, and challenged any that said yes. Did anyone do the same with motorists?

    I should think not, and if they did, it could be difficult. At the Old Bailey you might be able to empanell a jury entirely of non-motorists, as the pool will come from an area with 55-65% non-car households.

    But in Snaresbrook, Essex? Home of the second hand Range Rover? Puhlease!

    Now, I am a regular driver as well as a cyclist. I am aware that there is a thin line between me and catastrophe every time ai get in my car - just like in "Bonfire of the Vanities". I try very hard to keep in front of mind the fact that I am holding a lethal weapon so must be sure to keep the safety catch on. But, I know that I could fail in this - not likely perhaps if you are conscious of it, but certainly not impossible. I might let my attention wander, or be distracted by my kids arguing in the back. Personally, I think (I hope) I would have the grace to accept what's coming to me if that were to happen.

    So, the problem is, once you start looking at the driving population as a whole, the great majority of whom are not cyclists (yet), they are bound to be thinking "there but for the grace of God go I". Because they don't like to think of themselves as criminals, they will be reluctant to aknowledge criminal behaviour in others which they have in all probability committed themselves and got away with because they weren't so unlucky.

    I don't know how to fix it, but excluding drivers as well as cyclists from any jury panel hearing a case like this woudl be a start. It might mean delegation to a specialist court where the entire jury pool is pre-vetted on that basis.

    Or a case heard by a judge with a panel of professional assessors. We already have that for complex fraud charges where the courts assume that ordinary folk will not understand the evidence, so why not here?