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Cambridge solicitor says drivers need to learn how to minimise risk of collisions

A Cambridge lawyer has maintained that motorists need to be aware of what they can do to minimise risks of hitting cyclists, and that to say the rider “came from nowhere” is an unacceptable excuse following a collision, reports Cambridge News.

Daryl Robinson, who works as a personal injury litigator at law firm Barr Ellison Solicitors and was himself described as a cyclist, made his comments as Cambridgeshire County Council published figures showing that during 2011, more than 468 cyclists were injured on its roads, 218 of them in Cambridge itself.

That latter figure was 12 less than the number of incidents recorded in the city during 2010, although Mr Robinson believes that many collisions go unreported by the cyclist.

“My experience is that collisions involving cyclists, both in Cambridge and surrounding areas, are not decreasing,” explained Mr Robinson.

“News reports regularly cover incidents involving motorists driving without due care and attention, speeding, drunk-driving and even blaming the sun in their eyes.

“The most blatant evidence in negligence is usually the statement that the cyclist ‘came out of nowhere’, which is not scientifically possible,” he pointed out.

The phrase, of course, is reminiscent of the 'Sorry mate, I didn't see you' which gave rise to an acronym, SMIDSY, and subsequent campain from national cyclists organisation, CTC.

Mr Robinson went on: “The locus for such accidents arises commonly at junctions, fast roads, and even in front of the motorist’s own driveway.”

While Mr Robinson is correct in highlighting junctions and vehicle speed as factors in many incidents leading to the death or serious injury of bike riders, however, he went on to display, perhaps not surprisingly given his profession, a faith in the legal system that is at odds with what many cyclists perceive often to be a lenient approach taken by the authorities when a cyclist is killed or badly hurt, as many reports featured here on road.cc underline.

“Cyclists are afforded the protection from the local courts and motorists are regularly fined, banned and even imprisoned for extreme recklessness,” he insisted, concluding:

“In respect of civil claims, liability is not always straightforward as the cyclist may be partly to blame – hence the need to educate both parties.”

The lawyer revealed that he heard about the Cities Safe For Cycling Campaign launched by The Times newspaper last month at the same time as he was appearing in court on behalf of a cyclist who had been severely injured in a road traffic incident, although Cambridge News did not elaborate on the specific details.

“My client suffered significant brain injuries and spent many weeks in Addenbrooke’s Hospital fighting for his life,” he revealed.

“The legacy from this single moment can have a devastating effect. Understanding of the preventative measures needed to avoid these accidents cannot be understated.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.