Sydney crash driver blames riders

"By law it's not your lane"

Kevin and Kate Nichols with top Australian rider Ben Kersten at a press conference the afternoon of the crash.

The driver accused of causing a crash involving a 60-rider group of cyclists in Sydney, Australia last year, says it was the riders’ fault for being in his lane.


Representing himself, 34-year-old Hassan Bakr of the Sydney suburb of Claymore, cross-examined his alleged victims at

Downing Centre Local Court

Wednesday morning, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Kate Nichols, one of the riders who crashed when Bakr allegedly stopped suddenly in front of the group on May 8, 2008, told the court that Bakr was about half a metre away from the riders when he veered into their lane as he drove by.

“Next thing I heard [was] a lot of shouting and everyone crashing, and I saw the car right in front of me, and I fell over other riders that had crashed,” said Ms Nichols, a survivor of the 2005 crash in Germany that killed Amy Gillett and seriously injured five members of the Australian team.

“While I was still in shock someone called out to get the number plate and at that stage I looked up and the car was 50 metres in front and drove off. It was too far away from me to get the number plate.”

Mr Bakr suggested that Ms Nichols had been in the wrong by riding in the left lane.

“By law it’s not your lane, your lane is the emergency lane,” he said.

Magistrate Chris Clisdell pointed out that cyclists were allowed to use traffic lanes.

The riders were heading south, away from the city, at about 6.45am on

Southern Cross Drive

, one of the major routes into Sydney when Mr Bakr allegedly swerved in front of the group and stopped suddenly.

Mr Bakr has admitted driving the car, but claimed that it backfired, forcing him to stop in the left lane. He has been charged with cutting in front of a vehicle, travelling in a transit lane, negligent driving and not supplying particulars.

Ms Nichols and her father, Kevin Nichols, said they had not heard the car misfire, according to The Australian.

Mr Nichols, managed to avoid the crash, but said he heard his fellow cyclists hitting the back of the car.

When he went to the car to question the driver, he was surprised at Mr Bakr’s reaction.

“I did not see a person who was angry and enraged, I saw a guy who thought it was a bit of a joke,” said Mr Nichols.

According to the ABC, Mr Bakr asked Mr Nichols if his own bike was roadworthy.

Mr Nichols replied, “it’s safe and worth a lot more than your car.”


The case continues.