Cycling campaigners have welcomed a court’s refusal to overturn a conviction for dangerous driving in connection with a “close pass”.
Motorists accused of driving too close to cyclists are usually charged with the lesser offence of careless driving.
In May, Patrick John Kelly, 51, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, was banned for 12 months for driving dangerously close to a group of club cyclists.
He was prepared to admit 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 dangerous driving.
The incident took place near Donaghmore in July 2018, when about 18 members of Spires Cycling Club from Magherafelt were taking part in a charity event.
The court at Kelly’s trial in Dungannon Magistrates’ Court heard he passed so close to one cyclist that the rider wobbled and a wing mirror passed within two inches of another cyclist.
Kelly was approached by the cyclists at a filling station. They said they would be reporting him to the police.
As he prepared to drive off, the van driver said: “I’ll f***ing get you ones next time.”
In addition to the 12 month driving ban the haulage contractor was fined £400.
Stephen Mewha of Spires CC said club members reported the incident to the police as it was a deliberate attempt to cause distress to the cyclists – a “punishment close pass”.
“We take no pleasure in seeing a professional driver lose his licence or having to pay a massive fine. However, at the same time our club members should be able to cycle without fear of motorists putting them at risk by driving dangerously,” he added.
Mr Mewha said two of the club members who were present at the incident had never returned to the road on their bikes.
Welcoming the court’s decision to uphold the original verdict, Duncan Dollimore, of Cycling UK said the organisation had been campaigning for police forces and the courts to take the close pass problem seriously, and when appropriate to pursue a dangerous driving charge.
The legal definitions of the two offences are identical in Northern Ireland and in England and Wales.
“Cycling UK despairs at times when clearly dangerous 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 through to PSNI and the courts in Northern Ireland,” Mr Dollimore said.
Plain clothes cyclists
The PSNI’s head of road policing, Ch Insp Diane Pennington, said: “We are currently evaluating a series of pilot close pass operations which involved police officers in plain clothes on unmarked bicycles equipped with cameras, supported by police motorcyclists to identify drivers who don’t give cyclists enough room when they pass.”
The judge at Kelly’s trial queried the practice of cyclists riding side-by-side on the open road. He said he did not agree that it was safe practice but noted that there were no authoritative views, only opinions.
Hearts review CCTV to find fan after Zdenek Zlamal coin throw
Media playback is not supported on this device Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal is struck with a coin from Rangers endHearts are examining footage to find the supporter who threw a coin at their goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal in their Scottish Cup win over Rangers.The Czech was hit in the chest by a two-pence piece thrown from…
Hearts are examining footage to find the supporter who threw a coin at their goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal in their Scottish Cup win over Rangers.
The Czech was hit in the chest by a two-pence piece thrown from the Rangers section of the ground late in the second half with the hosts 1-0 up.
Footage also shows another coin narrowly missing the player as he attempts to take a goal kick.
Daniel Stendel’s side won the game to reach the semi-finals.
It comes a year after Zlamal was targeted with a coin by a Celtic fan at Tynecastle in a 2-1 win for the Glasgow club.
The 34-year-old was also punched in an Edinburgh derby by a Hibs fan, who was given a football banning order for a year and ordered to perform unpaid work.
Police Scotland have been contacted for comment.
Hearts 1-0 Rangers: Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal is struck with a coin from Rangers end
Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal is struck with a coin from the Rangers end at Tynecastle in the home side’s 1-0 Scottish Cup win.UK users only
Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal is struck with a coin from the Rangers end at Tynecastle in the home side’s 1-0 Scottish Cup win.
UK users only
Sophia Florsch: German driver to be in all-female Le Mans 24-hour team
Sophia Florsch is to be the first woman to race in the Formula 3 seriesAn all-female team including Sophia Florsch will compete at this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race. June’s race will take place less than two years after German Formula 3 driver Florsch, 19, survived a huge 170mph crash at the Macau GP, after…
An all-female team including Sophia Florsch will compete at this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race.
June’s race will take place less than two years after German Formula 3 driver Florsch, 19, survived a huge 170mph crash at the Macau GP, after which she needed surgery on a fractured spine.
She will line up with Alfa Romeo F1 test/development driver Tatiana Calderon and Briton Katherine Legge.
They will drive in the LMP2 category for Richard Mille’s Racing Oreca team.
Florsch said on social media: “Yes! I am racing this high class superduper motorsport event. Ready to rumble girls.”
Legge, 39, is an experienced sportscar driver who has competed in the Daytona 24 Hours event in America in all-female line-ups for the past two years.
Calderon, 26, raced in Formula 2 – Formula 1’s undercard series – last season for the Arden team.
They all currently compete in the Oreca car in the European Le Mans Series of endurance racing.
The Le Mans 24-hour race is one of motorsport’s biggest events, which sees many top drivers competing.
Last year’s race was won by a team including two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso.
The 2019 event also saw the first all-female line-up compete in the famous race, finishing in 39th place.