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Mary Bowers and Sam Harding – what do their cases tell us about the law?

21 December 2012
by blondwig

Last Friday juries acquitted the two motorists accused of, respectively, the manslaughter of Sam Harding and dangerous driving in the collision which left Mary Bowers in a coma.

Both Sam and Mary were cycling at the time they were hit.

The two acquittals have caused a lot of anger amongst cyclists. They raise the question whether the laws which exist to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users are sufficient.

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Presumption of liability – submission to the “Get Britain Cycling” Parliamentary Inquiry

7 December 2012

I’ve submitted a paper to the Parliamentary Inquiry on cycling, arguing for a presumption of liability in collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists.

You can read the paper here (pdf). Regular readers will recognise some of the arguments from things I’ve written before.

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Causing serious injury by dangerous driving – a new offence

21 November 2012
by blondwig

From 3 December 2012, there will be a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison (plus a fine). (LASPO s. 143; RTA s.1A; SI 2012/2770 art 2(b))

The offence doesn’t apply if you ride a regular (pedal-powered) bicycle – it can only be committed by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle. So it is primarily aimed at motorists.

That said, the new offence might make it slightly easier for new cycling offences to be introduced in the future, perhaps along similar lines to Andrea Leadsom’s (now-defunct) Dangerous and Reckless Cycling Bill. Read more…

£130 fines for cycling in Olympic Lanes?

27 July 2012
by blondwig

In the run-up to the Olympics, cyclists have been threatened with higher-than-usual fines for riding in dedicated Olympics lanes.

As I’ve mentioned before, normally the maximum fixed penalty notice for cyclists is £30. I thought I’d check whether there is any legal basis for higher fines for riding in Games lanes.

There’s a lot of legislation in this context, and some of it is quite opaque. Below is what I’ve found so far.

The rules differ slightly as between roads inside and outside London. I’ve focussed on the position in London, on the basis that that’s probably where the most cyclists are going to encounter the most Olympic lanes.

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Car accidents and contributory negligence

12 April 2012
by blondwig

There have been a couple of court decisions recently in cases brought by injured cyclists against car drivers.

The cases suggest that the courts perhaps aren’t being as generous to cyclists as they are to injured pedestrians – especially when it comes to contributory negligence.

In Malasi v Attmed a cyclist jumped a red light, rode into the junction without looking, and was seriously injured when he was hit by a taxi. The taxi driver saw the cyclist and braked, but couldn’t avoid the collision. The driver had been travelling at between 41 and 50 miles per hour, on a street where the speed limit was 30mph.

The cyclist sued the taxi driver for compensation for his injuries. Judge Seymour QC found the taxi driver liable, but reduced the cyclist’s damages by 80% for contributory negligence.

The judgment was delivered on 5 December 2011, but only reported in summary form (at present you can read the summary here). I’ve been waiting for the full judgment to become available, but there’s still no sign of that happening. So we still don’t have a complete record of what the judge said.

It has been debated elsewhere whether the outcome was fair. But the case also highlights one way in which the law might be giving cyclists a rough ride. Read more…