A Scottish law firm representing cyclists has published new figures that show only one in ten collisions in which cyclists are hit by cars result in charges and a court case.
Only 44 of 400 reported incidents were prosecuted by one Scottish police force in 2012, and it’s unknown how many were successful.
Cycle Law Scotland, who are pushing for a ‘presumed liability’ law, putting the onus on a driver in a collision to prove the cyclist was at fault, have warned that a lack of police time could be at fault, meaning fewer cases are being passed to the procurator fiscal.
Kim Harding, from Pedal on Parliament, told the Scotsman: “These figures are shocking but not entirely surprising, you hear of people reporting things to the police and it’s not taken forward.
“I suspect it’s an issue of resources and the police are under-resourced and if you take it through to the PF they have to spend time in court and they would prefer people just swap insurance details.”
But Superintendent Iain Murray, head of roads policing for Police Scotland, insisted the force was “committed to reducing casualties and improving safety on the roads”.
According to Cycle Law Scotland, despite 9 cyclists being killed in 2012, and 902 injured on the roads in Scotland, Lothian & Borders Police submitted only 44 cases to the Procurator Fiscal, out of 400 recorded incidents; Highlands and Islands, 11 out of 47 incidents.
Brenda Mitchell, a Personal Injury lawyer and founder of the Road Share campaign for presumed liability, said: “One of the arguments often used against a system of presumed liability for vulnerable road users is that the existing criminal law provides all the protection a cyclist or pedestrian needs.
“If drivers are regularly prosecuted for careless driving offences where cyclists have been injured, it might alter driver behaviours and at the same time protect cyclists. But these figures suggest that this simply is not the case.”
Thousands of cyclists rode to Holyrood in protest today, campaigning for improved funding and better infrastructure. The ride from the Meadows in Edinburgh ended at the Scottish Parliament, where speeches were made.
The Pedal on Parliament group has an eight-point manifesto asking for cycling to be integrated into local transport strategies and improved road traffic law and enforcement.
At Holyrood, the speeches were opened by Kyle Thomas aged11, who said: "I believe cycling is the future for Scotland.
"Cycling down the high street I thought to myself that this is how cycling should be, there wasn’t a single car on the road but lots of cyclists as it should be."
Lynne McNicoll, stepmother of Andrew McNicoll, killed cycling to work in Edinburgh in 2012, said: " was at the first Pedal on Parliament and to see so many more people attending today is just fantastic.
"I’m here because I don’t want anyone else to feel the way we feel every day since Andrew was killed on his bike."
Chris Oliver from Road Share, the campaign run by Cycle Law Scotland said: "Presumed liability is a big ask but we need to protect the vulnerable road users, not just cyclists but pedestrians.
"Please look at what we’re asking for and support our campaign."