Loughborough Magistrates Court recently saw the end to criminal proceedings related to the death of cyclist Sam Boulton, as Farook Yusuf Bhikhu was convicted of the offence of car-dooring.
Mr Bhikhu was handed a £955 fine, broken down as £300 for the offence, a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs. This is to be paid in £20 weekly instalments.
Local school teacher Sam Boulton was cycling along London Road in Leicester on July 27th, 2016 at around 1.20pm when the passenger, of Mr Bhikhu’s private hire car, Ms Chapple, opened the door as he parked on double yellow lines outside Leicester train station.
The resulting collision knocked Boulton from his bicycle and into a Citroen van being driven in the outside lane. He sustained fatal injuries and died later that day. While Ms Chapple pleaded guilty at the time of the initial hearing at Leicester Magistrates Court in March earlier this year and was handed a £150 fine, Mr Bhikhu pleaded not guilty.
Car-dooring is a criminal offence for which both the person in charge of the vehicle at the time, and the person opening the door are potentially culpable. The offence is only punishable with a fine of up to £1,000. Cycling UK commented that it intends to see more public awareness on the dangers of car-dooring which could be significantly reduced through techniques such as the Dutch Reach.
Father of the victim Jeff Boulton said: "It’s heart breaking that an offence which has ended a life and caused untold trauma for my family be treated so lightly under current legislation. Car-dooring must be taken more seriously and the only way to do that is to change the law. Only then will we see people taking the time to think before they act.
"Until we have an appropriate offence in law, I call on the Government to start investigating how they can better educate and train drivers about the dangers of car-dooring and the techniques which will prevent it from happening."
Cycling UK senior road safety and legal campaigns officer Duncan Dollimore added: “How many Sam Boultons have to die before government takes notes, and stops treating avoidable deaths as accidents? A maximum £1000 fine is derisory and trivialises these preventable tragedies.
“Cycling UK wants to see Government introduce a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car-dooring – with tougher penalties. It is not right or just that tragic cases, such as Sam’s, see inadequate penalties handed down.”