Judge condemns cycling to an uncertain future

After a cyclist was fined for using a road in Telford instead of a cycle-path even the UK’s most zealous motorist – the anti speed-camera campaigner Paul Smith - called the decision “barking mad.” The judge in the case is the same one who released a policeman caught driving 84mph in a 30mph zone…
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Daniel Cadden of Telford was fined £300 by district judge Bruce Morgan for “inconsiderate cycling” after Cadden supposedley held up cars on the West Centre Way in Telford.

Cadden had been stopped by police after he was cycling fast downhill on his journey home from work at Telford Town Centre.

The decision by the district judge doesn’t set an official precedent but may still be used by some as “proof” that cyclists must use cycle lanes, not roads.

The CTC is furious with the judge’s decision, saying Cadden was “cycling in accordance with the National Standard for cycle training.”

Cyclecraft, the book published by The Stationery Office on skilled riding techniques, states: “The primary riding position (the centre of one’s lane) should be your normal riding position when you can keep up with traffic, or when you need to prevent following drivers from passing you dangerously.”
This book was written by John Franklin and he was an expert witness in the current case but judge Bruce Morgan dismissed his evidence.

The police had claimed that the position Cadden had taken in the centre of his lane forced cars to cross the solid white line in the centre of the road illegally in order to overtake. But rather than stop the cars that had broken the law, the officers decided to charge Cadden with obstructing the highway.

CTC Director, Kevin Mayne, said “The police at the scene said that Daniel should have been cycling well over to the left – effectively in the gutter – but the judge felt that Daniel should have crossed three lanes of busy traffic and used a segregated cycle track to save fractions of seconds off the journey times of a few motorists. CTC continues to fight a re-draft of the Highway Code, which says cyclists ‘should use cycle paths where provided’, in order to tackle the attitude, held by many people in the judiciary, police and public alike, that cyclists should be out of the way of motorists.”

Cadden was supported in his defence by the Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF), the independent charity which was founded by CTC to provide cyclists with support in legal cases.

Chair of the CDF, Colin Langdon, said: “This is an extremely regrettable judgement and I fully expect it to be contestable. Daniel Cadden clearly needs to take legal advice about the options open to him. However, this is exactly the sort of case for which the Fund is always in need of donations, so that we can defend the rights of cyclists as road users and more generally to raise awareness of cyclists’ position in law.”

Cycle journalist Simon Withers, formerly a staffer on Cycling Plus, said:

?"Drive a car with dodgy tyres and kill four cyclists and you rack up a hefty six points on your licence and a 180 quid fine. Ride a bike on the road legally — and it’ll cost you £300. This fine sends out all sorts of wrong signals: that cyclists shouldn’t be on roads; and in doing so enforces the commonly held belief that cyclists are fair game for abuse — either verbal or physical — from the much put-upon and oh-so-vulnerable car driver.

“[Cadden] had every right to be on the road, as would an equally slow-moving agricultural vehicle. He chose to exercise that right.”

Writing as ‘Ed O’Brain’ on the Bikereader.com forum, Cadden said:

“The district judge in his summing up decided that I had a choice of using the cycle path or the main carriageway. By using the main carriageway I made a bad decision as inconveniencing motorists when there is an alternative cycle path is inconsiderate.

“The judge dismissed much of what Mr. Franklin had said or written in his report. He could not be satisfied that I would be more inconvenienced by using the cyclepath than the motorists would be by me using the carriageway. He did not accept how dangerous negotiating the traffic where the cycle path went around the roundabout, the fact that these are the types of junctions where most cycling accidents occur and also that these types of accidents were more severe. He dismissed broken glass and doggy doo as nonsense and was quite happy that I should progress along the cycle path at less than twelve mph instead of over thirty on the road.”

Even ardent motorists have been staggered by the judge’s decision. Paul Smith, founder of Safespeed.org.uk, an organisation that harries police forces and local authorities for siting speed cameras, said:

“I can't make sense of this at all. Was the District Judge barking mad? Or is there some other factor that we're not hearing about? If there wasn't some other factor, I suggest that cyclists mass on that bit of road and call the press.”

District judge Bruce Morgan has had his motoring judgements sidelined in the past.

Last year he famously acquitted a police officer who was “practicing” going fast in a new car.

PC Milton’s in-car video showed he did 159mph on the M54, 84mph in a 30mph zone and 131mph on a A-road.

Morgan set him free.

However, in February, PC Milton was ordered to return to court for a second trial. Lady Justice Hallen allowed an appeal against Morgan’s verdict expressing concern that Milton had reached "grossly excessive, eye-watering speeds" without any warning lights to alert other motorists.

"I consider it a failure not to have taken account of the effect upon other road users of somebody coming at this speed into their path," said Justice Hallen, a critique of district judge Morgan.

Cycle campaigners hope Cadden will also appeal against Morgan’s “barking mad” decision. The Cyclists’ Defence Fund has received an increasing amount of donations in the last two days following an outcry from cyclists on forums. To donate money via PayPal to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund go to the website below.

This weekend’s Phil & Friends Ride with Phil Liggett in Sheffield is in aid of the Cyclists’ Defence Fund.

The website of the Cycle Campaign Network said:

"Although this case does not set a formal legal precedent, it has far-reaching implications for every cyclist in Britain. Daniel Cadden has already said that he will no longer be able to cycle in Telford as he cannot risk a second prosecution and the quality of the cycle tracks is too bad to be considered a practical transport system. Every other cyclist in Telford must also brace themselves for the real possibility that they, too, will be targeted by the police in their apparent determination to free the town's main road network of cyclists. Throughout Britain, those in authority who wish to limit where cyclists may ride now have an excuse to exercise their prejudice.

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