The case of Michael Mason
At just after 6.15pm on 25th February last year, Mr Michael Mason was cycling north on Regent Street to the north of Oxford Circus in London. Mr Mason was hit from behind by a car, which was also travelling northbound along Regent Street, and was knocked off. He sustained serious injuries and died in hospital less than 3 weeks later. He was 69 years old and had cycled all his life.
There were no witnesses to the collision but CCTV footage showed Mr Mason was cycling 1-2m from the kerb, and that the car involved was travelling at a suitable speed. Mr Mason had a bright flashing rear red light (and a front light) and a reflector and was wearing normal clothing. Forensic examination of the car showed that it had hit Mr Mason’s bike when it was directly in front of the driver’s seat. The driver of the car stated at the inquest that she should have seen a cyclist in front of her; for reasons which we will never know, she did not.
A range of offences should have been considered, including causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving and driving without due care and attention. However, the policeman responsible for the decision to prosecute stated “given the available information, his opinion is there is no evidence available to show [the driver] did nothing more than act as a careful and competent driver and that this incident was nothing more than a tragic accident.” The case was not referred to the Crown Prosecution Service and no action was taken against the driver. Nothing.
It is worth restating this. A person driving a car is “careful and competent” even if they run into and kill a person on a bike who has correct lights, on a busy and well-lit street, in a city where cyclists are more common than in most places in the UK.
If you are as horrified by this case, please take action. You can donate to The Cyclists Defence Fund to raise money for a private prosecution of the driver – see www.justgiving.com/justiceformichael . You can join Roadpeace, which campaigns for better road safety. Or you can write to your MP asking for victims of road traffic accidents and their families to be treated better by the criminal justice system – currently, they are excluded from the help available to other victims of crime such as police liason and the Victim’s Commissioner.