Southampton Cycling Campaign calls for presumption in favour of cyclists involved in collisions

Hampshire had highest number of cycle incidents outside London last year

by Sarah Barth   August 6, 2012  

Southampton, Itchen Bridge (© Rhys Jones)

Southampton Cycle Campaign has called for a change in law that would automatically presume in favour of cyclists in the event of a collision with a car.

The move comes after figures were released showing that a total of 816 riders were injured in 2011 in Hampshire, up from 690 the previous year.

These figures are the highest for any police force area except London.

Southampton Cycling Campaign spokesman Dilys Gartside told the Southampton Daily Echo that she felt this change in law was more important than forcing cyclists to wear helmets.

She cited the case of a friend, Mark Brummell, who was killed in an accident while cycling in the New Forest in May this year, while wearing a helmet.

Along with the AA and British Cycling, Ms Gartside is backing 'strict liability' laws, which are already used in a number of European countries.

Under these laws, cyclists and pedestrians involved in collisions with other road users are considered to be the innocent party unless proven otherwise.

A motorist will be liable for a crash with a cyclist unless the motorist can show that the cyclist was at fault. This could include disregarding the Highway Code or cycling dangerously or without due care.

The UK is only one of four Western European countries that doesnt have strict liability to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

It is argued that strict liability encourages safer cycling as well as driving, given that cyclists face prosecution for injuring a pedestrian.

Here's a video uploaded by Carlton Reid about how strict liability works in the Netherlands:

Ms Gartside also called for better training of cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians to behave with others’ safety in mind; more segregated cycling lanes and better designed roads with cyclists given higher priority by planners.

6 user comments

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The starting point for any campaign on this issue should be that strict liability is about protecting the vulnerable in general - pedestrians would benefit too, and there are a lot more pedestrians than cyclists in this country. The end of the video states almost as an afterthought that cyclists would be automatically liable in the case of collision with a pedestrian. Stressing the general point would result in a lot more support from non-cyclists who get wound up by stuff like red-light jumping.

mintimperial's picture

posted by mintimperial [18 posts]
6th August 2012 - 10:44

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let's also stress that what's being talked about is liability, not criminal guilt

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7312 posts]
6th August 2012 - 11:31

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Sounds good to me. Stress the benefit to pedestrians removes the argumebt that we're picking in the poor car drivers again.

Crazy video. Carrying double bass's, lockng your bike by slinging a cable over a bollard; the Dutch on bikes is like looking at a by-gone era! I hope we can turn back time.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
6th August 2012 - 12:26

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I agree it would be great to introduce this however in the meantime

Write to your MP and if you can persuade all your friend etc. to do the same.

Dear MP

With the cycling successes of Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton cycling stories are very much in the news. Unfortunately that includes the death of a cyclist at the Olympic park. Surrey police have started a CycleSMART campaign because of the number of cyclists wanting to ride the Olympic Route.

Wiggins appealed for more pro-safety cycling policies following the death of a 8-year-old man who was hit by an official London 2012 Olympics bus not long after Wiggins latest gold medal victory.

As a cyclist I suffer from aggressive drivers and those who just seem ignorant of the dangers to cyclists so I echo Wiggins' appeal.

Perhaps you could persuade the relevant powers to include a flyer highlighting the problems of cyclists with say the next 12 months of DVLA road fund tax reminders sent out just before licenses expire

Perhaps a photo and message from Bradley Wiggins?

I'm sure he would oblige and it would be a great initiative by the Government that I’m sure would attract lots of favourable publicity.

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [64 posts]
6th August 2012 - 14:12

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RoadPeace have a good article about stricter liability:
http://www.roadpeace.org/change/safer_streets/stricter_liability/

Wiggins' colleague, Mark Cavendish, spoke out on this subject in June:
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3451896.ece

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posted by Simon E [1944 posts]
6th August 2012 - 14:21

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I wish them luck! I tried lobbying my MP for this sometime ago and continue to do so.

posted by Kim [131 posts]
7th August 2012 - 22:28

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