Whilst I had been touching my knee down occasionally, I was more interested in getting my bike heeled over as far as I could on each side to scrub the tyres. This was prior to meeting up with mates for what would have been a fast road ride (where if I had been pulled, I would have been speeding…).

I saw the blue lights coming from some distance away, but rather than just disappear off, I stopped and waited for the Police with my helmet off. The two officers approached me, one of them pointed out that my exhaust was not street legal, which I accept, and I was given a Vehicle Rectification Notice for that.

I put the original can back on and that was all done without problem. I was then told that I would be reported for the offence of driving without due care by Police, which surprised me because I was simply riding around a roundabout in a completely safe way, and for what I thought was a perfectly good reason.

I did tell the Police I was surprised, and one of the Officers said to me that they had had a lot of complaints about noisy bikes on Sundays in the area, and I was ‘one of the unlucky, ones’. He seemed a bit awkward about nicking me.

I have received an offer of a ‘driver improvement course’ as an alternative to a prosecution for careless and inconsiderate riding. I am still not sure what I have done wrong. Should I fight this?

Name Withheld

I usually advise people to take the course as it is less hassle than the risk of points, but in your circumstances I am struggling to see how the Police think that they can prosecute you.

The Police did not see your riding, but you did tell them that you had been scrubbing in tyres. That is a reasonable use of the highway. The Police have
decided to ‘stick you on’ for careless and inconsiderate riding. The Crown (i.e. the Police) will have to produce evidence of another road user being inconvenienced, but there was no such road user.

In the circumstances the prosecution is bound to fail as there are no other road users who have been inconvenienced so I suspect this ‘offer’ has been generated by a computer with no thought at all being given as to whether or not an offence has been committed.

I found your question so odd that I looked up the force details and in particular
the statements of the recently elected Police and Crime Commissioner and one of their priorities was dealing with ‘nuisance motorcyclists’ and suspect that you have been dragged in as a quota nick.

The Police appear to have been given a direction to prosecute ‘nuisance’ bikers and there is a problem in your force area of illegal gatherings of quads, motocross bikes and other bikes, a number of which are quite likely to have been stolen, but this has nothing to do with you. In the circumstances I would confidently reject the course offered, invite the Crown to prosecute and at the very first hearing I would expect the prosecution to withdraw the case.

I suspect the road traffic officers, who have a thorough working knowledge of the intricacies of road traffic offences, also knew they could not book you for any offence apart from the exhaust which they chose to deal with by way of a VRN. If you took the course, it is a paper success for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

I am also finding legal green lane riders are also getting pointless pulls by officers who are told to go out and nick tearaways on motocross bikes and this seems to be driven by the Commissioners. Your non event will go down as ‘action taken against nuisance bikers’ in some statistic somewhere.

If you receive a summons I would recommend that you get a lawyer to deal with this, but if you are not in a position to pay for a lawyer the leading case is Pawley V Whairldall [1965], which properly interprets the legislation and says in clear, terms that another road user must be affected. The Magistrate’s clerk will have one of the practitioner texts in court and if you mention this case, he or she will find it and direct the Magistrate in law, but this is pretty well known law so the Crown are very likely to kill this charge before It even gets to the magistrates.

The logic is unimpeachable. If I ride my bike through a puddle and splash an entire bus queue, that is inconsiderate. If I ride through a puddle and nobody is splashed, then it is not inconsiderate. You cannot be careless and inconsiderate to an imaginary person.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes January 2017