Cambridge cyclist fined for not speeding

This article was published in 1997, in Newsletter 14.

As the Cambridge Evening News reported on 20 September, and the Guardian on the 23rd, Tony Adams was arrested, and now faces a £120 fine, for riding ‘furiously’, an offence under the 1847 Town Police Clauses Act, at 25 mph in Sidney Street, a 30 mph zone, in the middle of the night back in March.

Superintendent David Autun justified the prosecution on the grounds that ‘even if you hit someone at 25 mph, you are likely to kill them’. Come off it, superintendent: if that’s true of a bike, how much more true must it be of a car, and you don’t prosecute motorists for driving at 25 mph, or even 35. In fact, government figures show that a pedestrian hit by a car moving at 20 mph has a 9 in 10 chance of surviving, while at 40 mph it’s 1 in 10, so 25 mph must be at the safer end of the scale. I know I’d rather be hit by a bike than a car, at any speed.

Inspector Bill Chapman claimed the case was similar to that of a motorist driving without due care and attention. But Tony, who is in training for a world record attempt, says he wasn’t even pedalling furiously. He is refusing to pay the fine (while admitting it was a mistake to miss his court case) and now risks gaol. If you’re out there, Tony, we’re on your side (some of us, anyway).