‘Vigilante on bicycle’ got fright as van passed, Cork court hears

He told Cork District Court that appearing in court to give evidence in road traffic cases had taken up a lot of his time.
‘Vigilante on bicycle’ got fright as van passed, Cork court hears

In the latest case, John Grace complained that van driver Patrick Kavanagh overtook him in a manner that gave him an incredible fright as he cycled from Carr’s Hill towards Douglas, Cork, after 11am on February 25, 2021.

A CYCLIST described as a “vigilante on a bicycle” complained that he got an incredible fright when the wing mirror of a passing van allegedly missed his head by inches.

John Grace, who is aged around 50, has an online presence under the hashtag “right to bike” and has made over 50 complaints in the past in relation to driving incidents.

He told Cork District Court that appearing in court to give evidence in road traffic cases had taken up a lot of his time.

In the latest case, Mr Grace complained that van driver Patrick Kavanagh overtook him in a manner that gave him an incredible fright as he cycled from Carr’s Hill towards Douglas, Cork, after 11am on February 25, 2021.

“A van came at high speed and passed me extremely close. His wing mirror was inches from my head as he passed,” Mr Grace said.

“When I eventually caught up with him we had words. I complained about what he had done. He said, ‘You swerved in front of me.’

“He said, ‘I have it on camera.’ I said, ‘I have it on two cameras.’ He said, ‘I know you do. I know who you are.’

“I realised I had two previous incidents with this van,” Mr Grace said.

Mr Kavanagh, aged 36, of 12 Nursery Drive, Ardfallen Road, Douglas, Road, Cork, pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving without due care and attention at Carr’s Hill on February 25, 2021.

He said in a statement to gardaí: “He [Mr Grace] is doing defensive rider techniques to bully car and van drivers to stay behind him… He is going to get himself killed.”

Inspector Jason Lynch put it to Mr Kavanagh: “You were aware of what you were doing when you were overtaking him because you knew him.”

Mr Kavanagh said he gave the cyclist plenty of room.

Insp Lynch said: “You did not allow sufficient room, primarily because you knew who he was, and for want of a better term, you buzzed him.”

Mr Kavanagh said: “No.”

Judge Marian O’Leary said: “Mr Kavanagh’s driving was not optimum but I do not believe the State has reached the threshold to convict [on the careless driving charge]. On that basis I am going to dismiss.”

Defence barrister Stephen O’Donoghue, for Mr Kavanagh, categorised the cyclist as a vigilante on his bike: “You believe cyclists should have greater influence on the road. You believe cyclists should be in the middle of the road holding up traffic.”

Mr Grace said: “I am just following guidance that is recommended.”

Asked why he was in a primary position on the road, holding up traffic, Mr Grace replied: “I am travelling 40kph. It is a narrow piece of road.

“I have to allow for [different eventualities]. I will change my position depending on the camber of the road. To be in the middle of the road allows for mechanical failure or if I hit a rabbit.

“The faster I go, the more towards the centre of the road I need to be.”

Mr O’Donoghue challenged this saying: “That is not in the rules of the road.”

Mr Grace said: “It is not about rules. It is about correct cycling. The rules of the road allows me to use a primary position whenever I need to. The rules of the road are not the law. They are an interpretation of the law. I am allowed to use whatever part of the road that allows me to feel safe.

“The reason I have taken the position is for stability; to give me contingency. I want to be able to swerve to the left or the right.”

The barrister acknowledged the complainant for what he termed “that dissertation”.

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