Judge Enright gets it just right

The scales of justice were balanced back in favour of the cyclist by Judge Sean Enright. Picture: Michael Grimes from Flickr Creative Commons

Judge Enright gets it just right

At last, a senior member of the legal profession showing sympathy for a cyclist. CTC is delighted to draw attention to the comments of Judge Sean Enright in the case of a tailgating lorry driver who pushed over an elderly cyclist, breaking his leg.

Lorry driver Richard Payne shoved the 74-year-old man off his bike in March, Cambridgeshire, in June this year after accusing him of making an offensive gesture at him as the cyclist let the lorry past.

The incident was witnessed by another motorist, who had also been tailgated by Payne that day – and the 66-year-old lorry driver was jailed for one year at a hearing at Peterborough Crown Court on Tuesday 24 November. 

Judge Enright said there was no suggestion of any improper action by the cyclist and declared: “Every road user is entitled to use the roadway – it is not confined to those with an engine. Horse and bike riders have equal entitlement.

Every road user is entitled to use the roadway – it is not confined to those with an engine. Horse and bike riders have equal entitlement."

Judge Sean Enright

“It can be very intimidating for riders to be tailgated in this way and to be overtaken at speed. A cyclist has no way out when a motorist pulls over and starts an altercation.”

Duncan Dollimore, CTC’s Road Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer, said: “Judge Enright’s eminently sensible and accurate comments will be music to the ears of cyclists everywhere. We have recently highlighted two worrying cases involving coroners. One claimed a lorry driver would not have expected to see a cyclist on a trunk road, then another speculated that a driver's failure to see the cyclist in daylight 'may have been compounded by his clothing'.

“We questioned whether these coroners understood cycling or, more importantly, the Highway Code.

“Clearly Judge Enright understands both, as his conclusions prove. While it is a pleasure to highlight this, it is a shame we’re having to do so purely because it seems to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to legal hearings into incidents involving cyclists.”

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Comments

At last, someone who recognises that I am as entitled as my neighbour to choose my method of travelling to, and from, work during usual rush hour

I am with other members delighted to read this summary from the judge. There's still a long way to go however. In a near fatal case a driver going round a corner on the wrong side of the road struck my fellow rider. I witnessed the incident from 10 metres behind and submitted a full statement with detailed graphics proving the mechanics of the impact and the fault. 3 years later the judicial process has not required me to testify.The driver had a minimal warning, small fine and 3 points. The rider has life-changing injury. The die seems still to be weighted in favour of motorists.

I am with other members delighted to read this summary from the judge. There's still a long way to go however. In a near fatal case a driver going round a corner on the wrong side of the road struck my fellow rider. I witnessed the incident from 10 metres behind and submitted a full statement with detailed graphics proving the mechanics of the impact and the fault. 3 years later the judicial process has not required me to testify.The driver had a minimal warning, small fine and 3 points. The rider has life-changing injury. The die seems still to be weighted in favour of motorists.

This is a good result, however, the article does not say what the driver was actually charged with - was it careless or dangerous driving? (I think one year for attempted murder is pretty lenient). We do need more judges like this.

I am personally under the impression (or illusion?) that pedestrians, cycles and horses have a right (i.e. enshrined in law) to use the highway whereas motor vehicle drivers require a licence (i.e. 'a permit from an authority to own or use something' - oxford dictionary online definition. If this is the case then maybe horse and bike riders have greater entitlement?

I fear that a witness statement from a fellow cyclist might be viewed by some in the police as potentially biased whereas a statement from a motorist is 'obviously' from a 'normal' member of society.

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