Trial date for cyclist's FPN challenge

Alex Paxton challenges a Fixed Penalty Notice
Alex Paxton, the 27 year-old cyclist who is challenging a fixed penalty notice, appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court this afternoon. He pleaded not guilty and a trial date was set for 5th December.

Alex Paxton received the FPN when he was unable to stop in a cycle box in Fulham in August.

Earlier this week, his barrister Puneet Rai filed a letter with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) asking them to review whether a prosecution would be in the public interest.

The judge has today given the CPS until 6 November to respond. If the trial goes ahead, the Cyclists' Defence Fund (CDF), a charity set up by CTC to fund legally significant cases involving cycling and the law, will prepare the case with Alex and his barrister. CDF has already given Alex advice on how to contest the FPN.

Alex explained that, when he reached a set of traffic lights at the northern end of Putney Bridge (west London), he found that the cycle box had been illegally blocked by a car. Not wanting to cross three lanes of moving traffic in order to turn right (into London's famous Kings Road), he positioned himself ahead of the illegally placed vehicle and ahead of the ASL, which technically meant that he ran a red light even though he remained at the junction.

A police officer who witnessed the alleged offence radioed a colleague stationed a short way along the Kings Road. The colleague issued Alex with the FPN. Alex argues that, as the officer who issued the FPN had not witnessed the offence, he was not able to assess the greater danger Alex would have been in had he complied strictly with the letter of the law.

My resolve probably would have faltered taking this to court had there not been such overwhelming support from fellow cyclists to back my case."
Cyclist Alex Paxton

When FPNs for footway or pavement cycling were first introduced, the Government assured cycling organisations that the penalty would be applied fairly and only when a cyclist’s actions endangered pedestrians - not, for example, when a cyclist uses the pavement to avoid a dangerous road.

CDF’s coordinator, Rhia Weston, said, “The same discretion that the police are expected to use when issuing FPNs for pavement cycling should also be applied when issuing FPNs to cyclists who fail to stop at ASLs.”

Rhia Weston added, “ASLs are there for a good reason: around 75% of cyclists’ collisions occur at or near junctions. They are by no means perfect, but when used properly they have the potential to save lives. We understand that the Department for Transport is planning to update regulation around ASLs to overcome the considerable problems with their access, which does give us some hope that they will also clarify what a cyclist should do if an ASL is occupied by a vehicle.”

The CDF’s appeal raised the target amount of £2,000 in 4 days and has now raised £2,450.