Editor’s comment: I don’t believe young cyclist deserves jail

PUBLISHED: 09:10 23 September 2017

Charlie Alliston, 20, outside the Old Bailey. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Charlie Alliston, 20, outside the Old Bailey. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Kim Briggs’ family are grieving for a young wife and mother. Her death was a heartbreaking shock I cannot pretend to imagine.

They bore the greatest loss and I’ve tried to keep that in mind while writing this. But the fact remains: I simply don’t believe Charlie Alliston should be in jail.

Yes, he did something wrong: he rode a bike without a front brake. That is a criminal offence under the Pedal Cycle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983. Its maximum penalty is a fine.

What he didn’t do was run a red light, or jump a zebra crossing, or pull a wheelie in the street, or ride without brakes (you brake on a fixie using the pedals). His bike was going at 10 to 18mph on a trunk road where he had right of way - slower than most cars and well within any speed limit. As I’m sure each of us has done may times. Mrs Briggs misjudged whether it was safe to cross. Charlie Alliston made a misjudgement too: he swerved to avoid her but they collided.

I’ve seen so many this week saying 18 months behind bars is not enough for him. In some countries, what Mrs Briggs did - jaywalking - is a criminal offence, too. Would we have wanted to see her in the dock had she lived? Of course not. Yet some - in the national press and among its readership - were positively foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a cocky young cyclist being taken down a peg. The facts of the case seemed almost an afterthought for them. Nothing I saw in this trial convinced me Charlie Alliston was anything more than a scapegoat.

One phrase I keep seeing is “holding cyclists to account”. It is nonsense. One holds power to account. Neither Charlie Alliston nor Kim Briggs, as vulnerable road users, had power in London’s transport network. That, not a tragic accident is the injustice that deserves our attention.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Stories

Yesterday, 08:30

TfL says it received 2,823 responses to the survey it carried out in 2016 about the proposed plans to pedestrianise the west side of Highbury Corner, writes Tim Sayer MBE, Battledean Road, Islington.

Fri, 18:00

Arsenal have encouraged supporters to follow advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after they were drawn to play CSKA Moscow in the Europa League.

Fri, 17:42

The town hall wants the government to pay for fire safety measures after a committee called for sprinklers to be fitted in all high-rises – something that could cost up to £97million.

Fri, 16:54

Plans have been approved for a new children’s home in Islington to be run by a King’s Cross charity.

Dillon Zambon, one of the two young men accused of being part of Nashon Esbrand’s murder in Canonbury last year, this afternoon told a jury: “I never intended for Nashon to get hurt.”

Fri, 14:30

The heroic Islington firefighters who rescued Angel flood victims joined the Pearly King and Prince of Finsbury to be given the freedom of the borough last night.

Fri, 14:16

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was slashed with a knife near King’s Cross station last night.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now