The family of a 91-year-old veteran who died after being hit by an e-bike ridden on the pavement has called for tougher laws to deter “selfish” cyclists who ignore road rules.
Jim Blackwood was struck as he put his bins outside his home in Rochester, Kent, this summer. The pensioner, who had served in the British Army for 26 years, was rushed to hospital and died three months later from internal injuries.
Now his daughter, Christine White, and granddaughter, Jenni Coleman, have said the cyclist could receive little more than a “slap on the wrist” because the Government has refused to update legislation so cyclists who kill are treated the same as motorists.
Under current rules, a cyclist who kills while riding recklessly can be jailed for only a maximum of two years for “wanton or furious” riding under an 1861 law intended for horse-drawn carriages.
In contrast, motorists face a life sentence if charged and convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
Conservative ministers have repeatedly promised families campaigning for the archaic law to be updated that they would introduce new legislation.
Mrs White, 65, said: “It’s ridiculous that police are left dealing with a 160-year-old law which is little more than a slap on the wrist.
“If cyclists or people on e-scooters faced the same legal consequences for knocking someone down or riding on the pavement and killing someone as motorists do, it would serve as a deterrent.
“Ministers have apparently said other deaths are required for them to update these laws. I’m sure if a minister’s father was knocked down and killed by a cyclist they wouldn’t be dragging their feet on this.”
Mrs White, who went to her father’s aid minutes after the collision at 7.20am on July 6, said: “The cyclist ran straight into him. My father stood no chance of getting out of the way. Dad was bleeding from his finger and had a scrape to his cheek, but the real injuries were internal.”
Doorbell camera footage appeared to show the e-bike travelling “fast”. The cyclist put Mr Blackwood in the recovery position and called an ambulance.
The father of two, grandfather of four and great grandfather of seven, suffered a small bleed on the brain and the artery to his left kidney was ruptured.
Following an operation he was moved to a critical care bed where he had a seizure and heart attack the following day.
Mr Blackwood spent three months in hospital before being sent home for end of life care. He died on Oct 13 from pneumonia, an infection and sepsis.
“He had been a fit, active and healthy true gentleman, not unlike Captain Sir Tom. We expected him to live to 100.”
Mrs Coleman, 36, added: “He died in entirely avoidable circumstances. He had travelled the world – Germany, Malaya and Northern Ireland – as a Warrant Officer Class 1 in the Royal Engineers. So, it’s sad that he is killed metres from his house on a pavement where pedestrians should be safe.”
Mrs White claimed the cyclist told them after the collision he was too afraid to travel on the road after being almost knocked over, so opted for the pavement.
Although Mrs White has used social media to urge cyclists not to ride on the pavement, she said some pro-cycling “trolls” have claimed her father “jumped out” and was to blame for the collision.
Meanwhile, she and a neighbour had contacted Medway Council warning how an “overgrown” tree near the home obscured views for motorists leaving their driveways and needed cutting back, but nothing was done.
“We never expected it may have obscured the view of someone riding on the pavement,” Mrs White added.
A council spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment while a police investigation was ongoing.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said “dangerous cycling” is “completely unacceptable” and “that’s why there are already strict laws in place for cyclists and police have the power to prosecute if these are broken.”
A Kent Police spokesman said it was investigating the collision on City Way, Rochester, in which “a man in his 40’s was riding an electric bike on the pavement” on July 6.
He said the “e-bike rider has been interviewed under caution” and appealed for witnesses or those with CCTV or dashcam footage to contact the police.