Track bike cyclists claim they are victims of 'witch hunt' in online forums after trial over death of pedestrian

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Cyclists who opt for fixed wheel track bikes have flocked to online forums to complain of a “witch hunt” against them after a man was cleared of manslaughter over the death of a mother he hit as she crossed the road. 

Charlie Alliston, 20, was found guilty of “wanton and furious driving” after a trial at the Old Bailey following the crash last year which left Kim Briggs with “catastrophic” fatal head injuries.

After the guilty verdict, cyclists complained they are facing a “witch hunt” over the use of fixed-wheel track bikes similar to the one used by Alliston when he hit Mrs Briggs.

Alliston, then 18, was riding a fixed-wheel track bike, illegal as it had no front brake, when he crashed into the mother-of-two as she crossed Old Street, in east London, in February last year.

Mrs Briggs, 44, later died in hospital. 

Crash victim: Kim Briggs (Metropolitan Police)

After the crash, Alliston posted remarks on the London Fixed Gear and Single Speed Forum defending his actions, blaming the victim for her death. 

Cyclists today used the same online page to criticise drivers and pedestrians, claiming there is a “witch hunt” against them.

One cyclist wrote: “Serious f****** witch hunt for cyclists on Radio London. Lots of drivers calling in, some talking absolute nonsense.”

Another cyclist described suffering abuse from a driver at a petrol station near Heathrow Airport.

The writer said he left the shop to find the driver “holding his bike and spinning the pedals backwards and forwards”.

The rider, who said he uses a fixed wheel bike with a front brake and specialised pedals, wrote: “Eventually, after repeating himself several times, I could make out ‘fixie’, ‘no brake’, ‘did you see the news?’ and ‘how do you stop?’ so I presume that he thought my bike was illegal. 

“I pointed to the front brake and told him that I use this to stop. There was a tone of anger in his voice, so I grabbed my bike, and got out of there. I was very shaken.”

Others blamed a lack of education surrounding cycling on the outpouring of aggression.

Matthew Briggs, the husband of Kim Briggs, speaks to the media outside the Old Bailey. (PA)

One person said: “It is to be expected; people who don’t know anything about cycling are genuinely frightened by such things.”

While some called for fatalities involving motorists to be discussed in the same way after Alliston’s landmark case hit the headlines.

One person said: “I fully expect the next motoring fatality to be discussed at length. (Cyclists have been) absolutely hung out to dry.”

Another described the aftermath of the case as a “dark time for fixie (riders).”

Fixed wheel bikes can be legally used on the roads providing they are fitted with brakes.

Mrs Briggs’ widower, Matthew, from Lewisham, south London, moved to reassure cyclists that the case would not spark a “witch hunt” against them. 

Speaking outside court on Wednesday, he called for a “radical change” in cycling culture and the introduction of new laws, including causing death by dangerous cycling.

He said: “I am now determined to do what I can to prevent others from going through the heartache we have had to bear following Kim’s needless death.

“We need to radically change some aspects of our cycling culture.

“This is not a witch hunt against all cyclists – I myself cycle in London – only the irresponsible and reckless.

He added: “We need to change the way the law deals with this.”

Alliston will be sentenced on September 18.

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