Old Street cycle death: Rider says he didn’t know having no brakes was illegal and denies being thrillseeker
PUBLISHED: 15:50 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 17 August 2017
A cyclist on trial for killing a mother in Old Street today denied he was a thrillseeker who didn’t use a front brake or helmet because it was “stylish” not to.
Charlie Alliston, then 18, was travelling at between 10mph and 14mph on his Planet X fixed-gear track bike when it collided with Kim Briggs in February last year.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey this morning he said having a front brake would have made no difference because Mrs Briggs, who died a week later, stepped back into his path – giving him no time to stop.
But prosecutor Duncan Penny said the reason he didn’t have time to brake was simply that he did not have brakes at all, and had he done so the collision would have been avoided.
He suggested Alliston liked to take risks by riding without brakes or a helmet, and that he was inspired by an American filmmaker whose thrillseeking “alley-cat” races are popular in the cycling community.
He read out a tweet from Alliston from 2015 in which he said: “The time when you first take your brakes off and feel like you’re in a Lucas Brunelle movie.”
The court heard how the stunt cyclist makes videos, in which he rides around cities weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds, narrowly avoiding pedestrians and going into bus lanes – “doing dangerous stuff”.
“What they do is, whether you think it’s right or wrong, repeatedly break road traffic laws,” said Mr Penny.
The prosecutor also suggested: “The thing you felt like when you took your brakes off was you were in one of those films.”
But Alliston, who at the time of the tweet was riding a Cinelli bike, denied removing the brake was a “style decision”.
“I wouldn’t say I drove dangerously or recklessly at any time,” he said. “At all times I was completely responsible.”
When asked if he enjoyed taking risks he added: “No, I didn’t enjoy it, or acknowledge that I was not safe. I didn’t get a kick or enjoyment out of not being safe.”
Alliston, 20, acknowledged that the track bike he bought as an upgrade in January last year, and was riding at the time of the crash, was “built for speed”.
But this morning he told jurors he had slowed down sufficiently before colliding with Mrs Briggs, a 44-year-old HR consultant.
He said: “I tried to go around. Having a brake, I wouldn’t have had enough time to pull it. “It was the few split-seconds prior to impact that caused the collision. A brake at the time wouldn’t have made a difference.”
Alliston, of Bermondsey, said he now realised not having a front brake was illegal but at the time he did not. He worked for three cycling courier companies in east London and none mentioned the matter.
He also told the court: “Previously I have been to bike shops when community officers and police officers were doing bike tagging or registration. Every time I ever came into contact with a police officer not once have they told me ‘that bike is illegal, or should have a front brake – you have broken the law’.”
He also said he accepted messages he had posted on cycling forums and in comments on the Evening Standard website in the days following the crash were “not thought through” and “stupid”, and said they weren’t truthful.
The trial continues.