An NHS midwife, marathon rider and cyclist – and partner to bike and component designer Keith Bontrager – has said she’s “hugely disappointed” by the penalty given to a driver who ran her over, causing her to lose a leg at the scene.
Julie Dinsdale had her leg amputated above the knee, by the front nearside wheel of a lorry, after she was hit by the Tesco vehicle in October 2015. The driver pled guilty to driving without due care and attention at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday 12 August. He received 5 points on his license and a £625 fine.
The driver is still working in the same profession, and Ms Dinsdale said after the hearing: “Despite cycling now being one of the country’s most loved sports, especially following the success of the British cycling team at successive Olympics, and the growing popularity of cycling as a means of transport in London, cyclists remain second class citizens on the roads in the UK. This is reflected by the behaviour of drivers and the Courts.”
“Cyclists remain second class citizens on the roads in the UK.”
Ms Dinsdale’s lawyer, Sally Moore who is Head of Personal Injury at Leigh Day, said: “It remains a problem at the core of British society that serious collisions involving cyclists are still regarded as ‘par for the course’ and appear to be treated as such by the Courts.”
Leigh Day will now be taking civil legal action against the driver Florin Oprea and Tesco.
Dinsdale, 53-years-old, had participated in marathons and cycling events across the world but is still unable to return to work or resume former levels of activity, causing her “great distress”. She was crushed by the lorry as it turned left across her path into Central St from Old Street in Central London on 4 October 2015.
Mr Oprea had been driving in the UK for four months before starting work for Tesco on 1 October, just four days before the accident took place – on his first day driving alone. Only days before, a driving assessor had recommended that Mr Oprea needed to use his nearside mirrors more when driving.
On the day of the accident, the driver – who had held an HGV license for 18 months before, mostly driving in Italy – was not following the route provided by Tesco, instead using his satellite navigation system. The lorry overtook Ms Dinsdale, and turned left across her path. Her leg was amputated immediately by the front nearside wheel.
In her victim impact statement Ms Dinsdale described how her injuries had changed her life. A week before the collision she had completed the notoriously tough Three Peaks Cyclocross event, for the 6th time.
Ms Dinsdale’s partner Keith Bontrager, the man largely credited for the development of the modern day mountain bike, was riding behind her and witnessed the collision.
Following the sentencing, Ms Dinsdale said: “I am hugely disappointed by the decision of the Court which finds that despite the evidence that I was visible to the driver, he should not be handed a more substantial sentence given the impact his actions have had on my life.
“Every aspect of my life remains difficult”
“Every aspect of my life remains difficult and my inability to return to work or pursue my sporting and active lifestyle is an immense loss to me and causes me great distress.
“What is of greatest concern to me is that the driver continues to drive HGV’s and it was said during the recent Court hearing that he was now working for Stobart. What has happened to me is devastating and I would hate for someone else to go through the same.”
The result of the case comes just a month after the crushing news that cycling campaigner and Olympic Gold medalist, Chris Boardman, had lost his mother after a collision with a car in North Wales.
The pick-up vehicle involved in the collision was a white Mitsubishi L200. Police were called to the scene, and a spokeswoman from North Wales Police told us said: “Police are renewing their appeal for anybody who may have witnessed the collision to contact officers on 101, quoting reference number U104385.”