Fixed-gear cyclists are claiming they are being subjected to a “witch hunt” in the wake of a landmark court case that led to calls for cyclists to be punished to the same degree as motorists.
Charlie Alliston was cleared of manslaughter over the death of Kim Briggs at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, but convicted of the lesser charge of “wanton and furious driving”.
Briggs, 44, died in hospital a week after being struck by the then 19-year-old as she crossed the road in east London in February last year.
Alliston was riding a “fixie” with no front brake, which is illegal, and prosecutors have said he could have avoided the accident if his bike was road legal.
Following Alliston’s conviction, Briggs’ husband, Matthew, called for a “radical change” in cycling culture and for cycling to be included in the Road Traffic Act so riders can be charged in the same way motorists are. He wants police and the Crime Prosecution Service (CPS) to be able to lay charges such as, death by dangerous cycling or death by careless cycling.
Matthew Briggs stressed that he was not on a “witch hunt against cyclists”, but rather wanted to prevent further deaths involving pedestrians.
However, that is exactly what cyclists have claimed has happened to them since Alliston’s conviction.
One cyclist wrote online: “Serious fucking witch hunt for cyclists on Radio London. Lots of drivers calling in, some talking absolute nonsense.”
Some cyclists have even claimed Briggs was at fault, which Alliston himself suggested online in the days after they collided.
Alliston wrote on the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed Forum: “It is a pretty serious incident so I won’t bother saying oh she deserved it, it’s her fault.
“Yes it is her fault but no she did not deserve it.”
Another person wrote on the forum this week: “A mother will naturally elicit sympathy whilst a pierced hipster oik will attract derision. This will lead to diminishing of her part and amplification of his.”
The majority of commentators however, have pointed out on social media that given Alliston was acting illegally - by riding a bike with no front brake - he was solely responsible.
Jurors heard that Alliston bought the £700 Planet X bike second-hand for £470 in January last year, telling the vendor he wanted to use it for track cycling.
Alliston told the court that he did not know the bike was illegal on the road and said her was not acting recklessly when he hit Briggs at an estimated 14mph.
He said: “At all times I would know what I’m doing and completely responsible for my actions.
“I did not get a kick or enjoyment out of not being safe.”
Alliston is due to be sentenced on September 18.