As a London cyclist for the past four and a half years, I have always been very clear that the most dangerous road users are pedestrians.
I've hit three in those four and a half years:
- An elderly man with a stick who stepped into the road to cross between cars in queuing traffic, without checking to his left to see if there were any cyclists skimming along the space between cars and kerb. He had the decency to apologise to me when I failed to quite stop in time. (I had nowhere to swerve to because of the cars).
- A woman with her gaze firmly on her mobile phone as she stepped out in front of me. I saw her and swerved out towards the middle of the road to avoid her trajectory, as she looked up and stopped dead in my adjusted path.
- A young lad, one of several who were standing in the middle of a busy road chatting, for no obvious reason. I swerved to avoid and as I did, he stepped backwards into my path.
So on Monday, Charlie Alliston, who collided with a pedestrian who stepped into his lane, gaze only on her mobile phone, was sent to a young offenders' institution because she died after the collision.
Was he sentenced so because the type of bike he was riding wasn't roadworthy and experts say he could have stopped if it had been? Was it because he hadn't shown any visible remorse for what happened (if a pedestrian had stepped into my path and caused me to go flying, I think I'd have been angry rather than remorseful, myself). Was it, as some newspapers have suggested, because both he and the deceased lady are attractive and caught the attention of the media? Was it because he didn't appear to attempt to stop on the CCTV footage, expecting her to move when he yelled?
I don't know why, I know that it bothers me that the lady who stepped into the road without looking is being painted as blameless. She lost her life, he has lost years of his and will always have to live with the trauma. In this case, I definitely think that the phrase "It takes two to tango" is appropriate. We are taught when we are very small to look at the road before crossing. She didn't.