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Cycle Law Scotland's initiative has backing of CTC Scotland, Pedal On Parliament and Spokes...

A firm of solicitors in Scotland has launched a campaign to have the country’s civil law changed to introduce a system of ‘strict liability’ liability in incidents involving motor vehicles and more vulnerable road users such as cyclists. The Road Share campaign, devised by Cycle Law Scotland, is backed by organisations including CTC Scotland, Pedal On Parliament and Lothian cycle campaign group Spokes, among others.

Under such a system - more accurately termed 'presumed liability,' although 'strict liability is the one used in the campaign - a hierarchy is established that places a presumption of liability that favours the more vulnerable road user – for example, where a cyclist has been struck by a car, the motorist is presumed to be liable, unless they can prove that the cyclist was at fault. The system only applies to civil cases, not criminal ones.

The firm says that introducing the system it proposes would meant that victims would receive compensation more quickly, the burden on the courts would be reduced, and road users’ attitudes would change, with a consequent improvement in safety.

Edinburgh-based Cycle Law Scotland says that the UK is one of just five of the 27 European Union member states – the others are Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Romania – where in such cases there is no ‘strict liability.’ t

According to the firm,

As a consequence, our current system expects those injured or the families of those killed to go through an often harsh and protracted process to gain much needed treatment, care or compensation. On the Continent, strict liability is seen as an integral factor of cycle safety and Scotland has the power to introduce this principle into civil law to demonstrate its credentials as a civilised, cycle-friendly nation.


The ultimate aim is to introduce a private member’s bill into the Scottish Parliament, designed to protect the most vulnerable road users and to reflect a hierarchy of road users. To that end, the campaign sets out to highlight the dangers cyclists face from motorists and help facilitate a change in attitudes amongst road users to one based on mutual respect and understanding. Over the course of the next two months, we are running an online petition and forums to share knowledge and advice.

The firm says that introducing the system it proposes would meant that victims would receive compensation more quickly, the burden on the courts would be reduced, and road users’ attitudes would change, with a consequent improvement in safety.

The campaign also has the support of Richard Lyle, Member of the Scottish Parliament representing Central Scotland, who says: “The laws around strict liability should be looked at as we work to make Scotland a cycle-friendly nation.

“For too long, strict liability for road users has been dismissed as too difficult or too contentious a law, but in a modern society that sees cycling as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and sustainable economy, it is important to put this debate back on the agenda.

“If strict liability can be shown to help improve road safety and provide protection for those injured, then Scotland should not be afraid to take a lead and change the law.”

You can find out more information about the campaign here, and a dedicated Facebook page has also been set up to support it.

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.