Monday, September 14, 2009

Dangerous Riding Weekend Warriors: Bunch Cyclists Racing on Public Roads

Community indignation at cyclist Sean Brindle’s tragic death has been channelled through culpable driving charges against Luke Shields, rightly facing up to 20 years in jail.

Outrage at the death of pedestrian James Gould, (killed by a cyclist in 2006 during the proposed Clearway period, 8.30am Saturday) was because William Raisin-Shaw, was charged with running a red light.

Magistrate Charles Rozencwajg reduced the maximum penalty from $550 to a “pathetic” $400 fine after Defence Lawyer, Michael Sharpley, asked him to take into account the difficult group dynamics of bunch cycling.

CycleSport Victoria’s submission, to State Coroner Graeme Johnstone’s inquest into Mr Gould’s Death, stated “…there can be difficulties, especially for inexperienced cyclists, in stopping safely when traffic lights turn red when they are riding in bunches.”

Mr Raisin-Shaw “was worried about being hit from behind.”

Defence Lawyer Mr Michael Sharpley stating that he “accepted that his client (Mr William Raisin-Shaw) had contributed to Mr Gould's death but argued his actions were "not indicative of any significant degree of negligence."

"The alternative of proceeding through the red signal appeared to be the lesser of the two evils, on the basis that it was unlikely that a pedestrian would walk out in front of cyclists approaching at speed," he said.

“Mr Raisin-Shaw's decision proved to be wrong, but in the circumstances it "was not unreasonable", Mr Sharpley said”

Beach Road Cyclists spokesman and No Stopping Zones Advocate, Marcel Lema, said at the time “Probably 80 to 90% of cyclists on Beach Road have a very low set of skills (Stateline 1/9/06)

The proposed Clearway for training cyclists will not correct careless, inexperienced bunch cycling.

The Brumby Government’s Dangerous and Careless Riding Laws must tackle the “difficult group dynamics” of bunch cycling.

On introducing the new legislation, Minister Pallas said: “While the risk of a serious injury or fatality as a result of careless or dangerous riding by a cyclist is low, recent incidents are a a reminder that the consequences of a collision involving a cyclist may be severe.”

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