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Plan is to increase small claims limit such that most cyclists would be unable to recover legal costs

British Cycling and Cycling UK have appealed to the government to revisit its small claims reforms, arguing that they will penalise vulnerable road users.

The plan is to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000 for all those involved in road traffic incidents.

The aim is to crack down on bogus whiplash claims but the change would also mean that many injured cyclists would be unable to recover their legal costs and would therefore be denied access to justice.

“The Government insists changes are needed to tackle fraudulent or exaggerated whiplash claims, but unfortunately, their proposals have lumped cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse riders into the mix,” said Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns.

“That's a problem, as whiplash claims for these people are like hens' teeth and hardly ever happen. Broken bones and other injuries are the norm, and with 70 per cent of cyclists' claims being under £5,000, victims will be out of pocket once the legal wrangles with insurance companies are over, as they will have to foot the bill for their own legal costs.”

Over 6,000 people supported Cycling UK’s initially successful campaign to change the proposals in December 2016, and another 1,000 have added their voices since the charity began campaigning on the issue again in March.

For its part, British Cycling has been working with the Vulnerable Road Users Group to seek to remove vulnerable road users from the reforms on the basis that they should be protected rather than penalised.

British Cycling policy adviser Chris Boardman said: “This move will have huge unintended consequences for anyone involved in a collision that is not driving.

“It will now become almost impossible for cyclists to get legal representation without sacrificing a significant proportion of the compensation that they would be entitled to and I appeal to the government to rethink this approach.”

Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has tabled an Early Day Motion calling on the government to remove vulnerable road users from the reforms.

Both British Cycling and Cycling UK are encouraging people to write to their MPs in support of the motion and have provided tools for doing so on their respective websites.

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