This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 71.
Cyclist Daniel Cadden, who was convicted by a court in Telford last August for riding on a road instead of using an alternative cycle path, has won his appeal and the conviction has been quashed. The judge at Shrewsbury Crown Court told Cadden that he was as entitled to be on the road as anyone else and there was no obligation on him to use the cycle path.
The issue turned on whether the cyclist had unreasonably impeded traffic. The judge noted that traffic had been light, there had been no more than transitory inconvenience to drivers behind him and he had caused no danger to anyone. There was therefore no way in which the court could rule that his behaviour had been inconsiderate.
In response to the police suggestion that Cadden should have ridden in a 0.9 m area of the carriageway between the kerb and the outside lane marking, so that traffic could pass more easily, the judge was clear that this part of the road was not intended to be used by any vehicle and that included cycles. It would be unwise to expect cyclists to ride in this area and there could be dangers involved in doing so. There was no question therefore that the right place for cyclists to ride is in the general traffic lane. With regard to the cycle track, the court took the view that Cadden’s speed of 20 mph would have been excessive and possibly unsafe for a track shared with pedestrians. Someone riding at that speed should be expected to use the road.
However, the court’s verdict cannot be taken as a precedent for all circumstances and cyclists must be aware of their responsibilities to others and not expect to be ‘in the right’ just because they may legally use a road. The judgement was highly sensitive to fact and degree. Someone riding much slower might be wiser to use the cycle track and their actions in delaying traffic on the road might under some circumstances be inconsiderate. It comes down to the reasonableness of a cyclist’s behaviour in the particular circumstances.
The judge expressed veiled criticism of the police for bringing the charges, which seemed to be more a consequence of the cyclist not accepting the ‘road safety advice’ (to ride in the gutter or on the cycle track) that the police had given than of the cyclist’s riding behaviour. The retrial did not run its full course but was stopped by the court (upon a request by Cadden’s counsel) after the completion of prosecution evidence. The court agreed that there was no merit in continuing as the court could not possibly find against the cyclist.
Daniel Cadden’s defence was funded by the Cyclists’ Defence Fund which needs on-going financial support by cyclists in order to continue its essential work. Please consider making a donation. You can do this on-line.
Reprinted with permission from CCN News no 87