A cyclist has recalled the shocking road rage incident which saw him assaulted after questioning a driver’s mobile phone use behind the wheel.
The rider, who will remain anonymous throughout this article, told road.cc they are still yet to receive the £500 compensation a judge at Westminster Magistrate’s Court ordered Akil James to pay along with a £2,000 fine and £820 costs on top of five penalty points on his driving license.
“What concerns me most is that this dangerous driver remains a threat to other road users,” the rider, whose bike suffered £450 worth of damage in the incident on the King’s Road, Chelsea, on Christmas Eve 2021 told us.
The cyclist was returning from volunteering for disadvantaged youth in west London when James pulled out in front of him, blocking the road.
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“I could see the driver had a phone held up to his left ear and was talking into it and was not wearing his seat belt,” the rider explained. “I asked the driver ‘what are you on the phone for?’. The phone screen was clearly lit up in an active call.
“I said ‘you shouldn’t be on the phone while driving’. He responded ‘you shouldn’t be talking while riding’. When he said the word ‘riding’ he lunged at me with his right hand and struck me on the left side of my head. He then accelerated off as I said ‘don’t hit me — that’s an assault — I’ll be reporting you, you’ll be reported, sir’.
“He told me to ‘f*** off’ and I responded with a ‘thank you’ and started to cycle away. I could see the driver turn his steering wheel to the right as I cycled away.
“I could sense what was about to happen and prepared to take evasive action. A second or two later he accelerated hard, while shouting ‘get out of the road’. The vehicle then collided with my leg and bike.
“I said to him ‘that’s the second assault, I’ll be calling the police, you’ve just hit me’ as I picked my bike up off the floor. He responded ‘shut up you f****** mug ‘ and accelerated away.
“The vehicle was held up at a zebra crossing with pedestrians crossing. I limped my damaged bike to the pavement and approached the BMW on the passenger side to tell the driver I’d be reporting him.
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“He continued to hold his phone in his left hand in a phone call as a female pedestrian walked across the zebra crossing. Obviously angry, he failed to give way and narrowly missed her, accelerating off at speed.”
The rider told us he was “blown away with the kindness” of those passing who checked he was okay and provided witness statements.
“As I said, this happened on Christmas Eve. This incident very much destroyed my family Christmas as I was in a very stressed state and couldn’t stop replaying in my head what happened,” they continued.
“I was lucky the bruising to my leg was minimal as I’d managed to leap off my bike as the collision happened. Damage to my bike caused by the collision included popping out many spokes, bending my rear wheel/cassette/gear assembly/ brakes, totaling £450 in repairs.
“A damage report by the amazing guys at CycleWorks Kennington was submitted to the police but not submitted in court. I had to report this myself in court to the magistrate in order to get compensation.”
Having provided an online statement to the Metropolitan Police the cyclist was later asked to provide an in-person statement at Hammersmith police station and in April 2022 received a “generic letter” informing “after careful review it has been decided that no further action will be taken”.
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“I couldn’t believe this decision had been made. I contacted the investigating officer who stated that this letter was from the Met Police Traffic Unit but he was still being prosecuted by a different department for common assault, and driving without due care and consideration ,” our reader explained.
“I thought the video evidence I provided was compelling: offenses I can see include using a phone while driving, failing to wear a seatbelt, dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident and failing to give way on a zebra crossing. I have no idea why they decided these offenses were not worthy of further action.
“I wanted to claim against his insurance to repair my bike, but had to take legal advice to compel the police to release the driver’s insurance details as the vehicle was a company car and had multiple policies against it. I finally found out that the driver was insured with ERS and have sent various emails to them but have not had any response [a silence repeated to road.cc’s request for comment].”
In the meantime our reader attended Westminster Magistrate’s Court twice, once in July and then again in September 2022, but both times James failed to show up.
“To save wasting everyone’s time again, the magistrate gave instructions that I should give evidence without the driver being present,” he continued. “The driver’s hearing finally took place in November where he pleaded guilty to the charges [below].”
- Common assault
- Use of threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour with intent to cause fear of/provoke unlawful violence
- Criminal damage to property valued under £5,000
- Driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road/in a public place without due care and attention
- Assault by beating
James was sentenced, with the judge taking the guilty plea into account, and received five penalty points on his driving license, a £2,000 fine, £620 costs to the Crown Prosecution Service (collection order made), £200 victim surcharge and £500 compensation to the cyclist (still not received).
“The driver has still not paid a penny in compensation,” our reader told us. “I have again sent another email to his insurance in the vague hope of getting paid for repairs.
“What concerns me most is that this dangerous driver remains a threat to other road users. I don’t post on social media, but hope this story shows how inadequate some of our legal processes are and that the rights of car drivers are put above the safety of cyclists.”