Biking advocates have actually welcomed a court’s refusal to overturn a conviction for harmful driving in connection with a “close pass”.
Vehicle drivers accused of driving too near bicyclists are normally charged with the lower offence of careless driving.
In May, Patrick John Kelly, 51, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, was prohibited for 12 months for driving dangerously close to a group of club cyclists.
He was prepared to confess careless driving but this appeal was refused.
No case law
There was no previous case law and the subsequent appeal at Omagh Court this month rested on whether the close pass amounted to careless or harmful driving.
The occurrence occurred near Donaghmore in July 2018, when about 18 members of Spires Biking Club from Magherafelt were taking part in a charity drive.
The court at Kelly’s trial in Dungannon Magistrates’ Court heard he passed so near to one cyclist that the rider wobbled and a wing mirror passed within 2 inches of another cyclist.
Kelly was approached by the cyclists at a filling station. They stated they would be reporting him to the cops.
As he prepared to repel, the van driver stated: “I’ll f *** ing get you ones next time.”
In addition to the 12 month driving ban the haulage specialist was fined ₤400
Stephen Mewha of Spires CC said club members reported the event to the cops as it was a deliberate effort to trigger distress to the cyclists – a “penalty close pass”.
” We take no pleasure in seeing an expert chauffeur lose his licence or having to pay an enormous fine. Nevertheless, at the exact same time our club members need to have the ability to cycle without worry of vehicle drivers putting them at risk by driving precariously,” he included.
Mr Mewha stated 2 of the club members who were present at the occurrence had never ever gone back to the roadway on their bikes.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
Inviting the court’s choice to uphold the initial verdict, Duncan Dollimore, of Biking UK stated the organisation had been campaigning for police and the courts to take the close pass issue seriously, and when suitable to pursue an unsafe driving charge.
The legal definitions of the two offences are similar in Northern Ireland and in England and Wales.
” Biking UK despairs sometimes when clearly hazardous driving is overlooked or minimised, with either no charge or merely the lesser charge of careless driving being brought, so it’s a relief to see that the message is getting across PSNI and the courts in Northern Ireland,” Mr Dollimore said.
Plain clothes cyclists
The PSNI’s head of road policing, Ch Insp Diane Pennington, stated: “We are presently examining a series of pilot close pass operations which included police officers in plain clothing on unmarked bicycles equipped with electronic cameras, supported by police motorcyclists to identify drivers who don’t offer cyclists enough space when they pass.”
The judge at Kelly’s trial queried the practice of cyclists riding side-by-side on the open roadway. He stated he did not concur that it was safe practice however noted that there were no authoritative views, only viewpoints.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe