Cartoon of Gemma Brusshett phone zombie who walked in front of a cyclist on a red light, but District Judge District Judge Shanti Mauger apportioned half of the blame to cyclist Robert Hazeldean.

Cartoon of Gemma Brusshett phone zombie who walked in front of a cyclist on a red light, but District Judge District Judge Shanti Mauger apportioned half of the blame to cyclist Robert Hazeldean.

By Richard Shrubb

In a bonkers judgement from the courts, it now appears that people too absorbed in their phones to give a shit for their own lives can blame cyclists for hitting them. Great news for phone zombies!

What happened?

Gemma Brushett was walking home one evening in Central London in July 2015. On her phone and not paying any attention to the world around her she crosses a road despite the pedestrian crossing being at red and a green light allowing traffic to pass through legally. She hears a 115-decibel bike horn and freezes.

The cyclist Robert Hazeldean is described by the judge at the hearing as, giving “every impression of being a calm and reasonable road user”. Seeing pedestrians still crossing the road, Hazeldean blasted his airhorn, causing most pedestrians to look up and stop. Most – not phone zombie Brushett who continued to walk in front of him. He shouted ‘NO!”, slammed on his brakes and both hit the deck, falling unconscious.

Brushett claims that she remembers nothing due to ‘post-traumatic amnesia’, which in fact appears to be partly that she was so involved in Facebook fluffy kitten porn that she wouldn’t have seen a bus hit her and secondly the convenience of forgetting everything when you know you’re blatantly in the wrong and want compensation from the courts.

Controversial District Judge Shanti Mauger who ruled cyclists are to be held responsible if some idiot walks in front of them, ignoring the red man while looking at their mobile phone.

District Judge Shanti Mauger smells a cyclist.

The judgement

The judge, District Judge Shanti Mauger appears to have weighed up the evidence and concluded that cyclists should be insured like car drivers, as so many cyclist hating car drivers demand when trolling cyclists. She inexplicably found that each party was 50/50 culpable.

This led to a costs hearing where the cyclist is to have to find more than £100,000 for being partly responsible for hitting a phone zombie who walked in front of him. He’s going to be bankrupt after this.

Cycling community responds

Reading through the comments of a leading cyclist’s online newspaper you find this jewel: “In the region of 100m from that spot I recently saw a woman on her phone doing the same thing with a bus. Luckily she responded to his horn and jumped back when he was less than a metre from her. I honestly thought she was about to be squashed. Would a judge also be holding the bus driver liable?”

Meanwhile, another cyclist responded to the news, “A number of cyclists are knocked off bikes, seriously injured and in some cases, killed by pedestrians walking off safe pavements without looking, normally glued to phones but none of this ever gets mentioned or reported. If I happen to be knocked off my bike by a pedestrian, remind me to sue the pants off them!”

Pedestrian kills cyclist

It took me a full minute to find a case where a phone zombie stumbled into the road, knocked a cyclist off his bike and killed the cyclist – in Reading in 2017. The road.cc website reported, “Benjamin Pedley, aged 26, died from head injuries sustained following the collision in Earley, near Reading, with Nathan Kellsell in March this year. At an inquest earlier this month, witnesses described how the pedestrian had walked into the road without seeing him.”

Even more sickening is this quote from the same site: The cyclist’s brother William Pedley said, “I spoke to police officers who said if Ben had survived and was healthy there would be a chance that he would be prosecuted as a road user.”And yet there is no comeuppance for a pedestrian,” he continued. “At the moment there is no law to say that if you step out into a road you are responsible for your actions.”

My own conclusions

The law needs changing. It needs changing so cyclists get the benefit of the doubt. I hit a pedestrian several years ago when the fucker ran across the track and into my path and I broke my elbow in the impact. Thankfully it didn’t lead to a court case as I have no doubt that the dickhead would have screwed me for all I had.

We prosecute drivers for being on their phones when they mow down pedestrians so I have to take the attitude that pedestrians so absorbed in their phones they are unaware of the world around them should be prosecuted for causing accidents. Phone zombies are dangerous whatever they do – walking, cycling or driving a bus. There is just no excuse to be too absorbed in your virtual life to risk real lives.

Saying that, we do live in a country where people get jail time for growing their own medicine, so bollocking someone for being knocked off their bike is probably acceptable in light of that!


Richard Shrubb

Richard is a marijuana, water sports and electric vehicles writer based in Dorchester, Dorset. Living in Prince Charles model housing estate, Poundbury, he is an avowed republican, community and Labour Party activist. Visit his website at www.richardshrubb.com for more about what he does.

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