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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.

Comments welcome below.


Photo by Francisco Diez from here:

UK Cycle Rules material is made available subject to terms which you can read here.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. cbrndc permalink
    10 December 2012 12:30

    I like this submission it will go a long way to improve driver behaviour (but not necessarily their attitude)so good luck with it.

    Segregation is great and will improve the safety for cyclists and I would like to see facilities provided especially on school routes and on major trunk roads. I am, however, personally wary of segregation as the primary solution to reduce road death and injury to cyclists. I fear it will reinforce the view that cyclists should not be on the roads and will increase the risk where segregation is not provided especially from the “punishment pass”. I am also concerned that where segregation is provided it will become compulsory and will never give priority to cyclists at junctions when alongside a through route where, if on the road, the cyclist would normally have traffic light priority on the road as with other vehicles travelling in the same direction.

    At 8.3 I think I would have liked to see that with increased safety on the roads that this proposal could afford, it would tempt pavement cyclists back onto the roads and thus further reduce the risks to pedestrians from errant cyclists; but you probably did not want to mention that.

  2. ivan permalink
    11 December 2012 16:05

    A small point, but in relation to Para 8.3, this should be resistable because the cyclist normally comes off worse in a cyclist-pedestrian collision. This is because the cyclist has the greater momentum, and tends to retain most of that momentum themselves after collision, which is then converted into their own catastrophe. Of course the motorist also usually has more momentum than a cyclist in a collision, and retains most of that momentum, but that retained momentum is rarely converted into a catastrophe, rather the motorist’s course of motion is not sufficiently disturbed to result in catastrophe to the motor vehicle. (A motorcycle is a different case.)

    Unfortunately I can’t demonstrate this statistically, because whilst I can find stats on injuries to pedestrians from pedestrian-cyclist collisions in DfT data on causes of pedestrian injuries, I can’t find stats on cyclist injuries in such collisions.

    • ivan permalink
      19 December 2012 15:53

      I did a bit more research on it, and the downloadable STAT19 database of collisions does not appear to indicate pedestrian participation in an accident unless the pedestrian is injured. So I don’t think we have any knowledge of cyclists injured in accidents with pedestrians. Transport Research Laboratory report PPR445 (which you can download in return for a free registration) presents some figures on cyclists KSI in accidents with pedestrians, which they claim to have extracted from STATS19. However they look suspiciously exactly the same as the average number of pedestrians KSI in accidents with cyclists in the period 2001-2009, a widely reported figure, so I think they made a mistake.

  3. tarquin_foxglove permalink
    16 December 2012 13:47

    Excellent paper. Clear & precise, it will be interesting to see how they manage to interpret it to make cyclists always liable in all collisions. ;)

    My only comment would be that we don’t just have to look to other nations to see how to operate ‘presumed liability’ as we already do it when it comes to rear end collisions between vehicles.

    • blondwig permalink*
      16 December 2012 16:18

      Thanks Tarquin

      I’m not sure that there is genuinely a legal presumption in rear-end cases, but I know what you mean.

  4. ian permalink
    28 December 2012 14:01

    Great stuff!
    According to my french mate Martin, they have just such a presumption of liability in France; he thinks that’s one reason why cycling is so popular in france (cyclists feel safer on the roads).
    Sadly however, I can’t give you anything in writing to back that up.

    Moving on though, this idea of ‘stronger party pays’ has similarities in maritime law where powered craft give way to sail, and so on.

    I shall write to my MP and ask him to support too.

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