A leading insurance company has warned motorists to look out for cyclists following a spike in personal claims during lockdown.
More Than says that claims for bodily vulnerable road users – cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists – have risen from 10 per cent of all claims made by policyholders to 20 per cent in the past few months.
The company attributes the rise to more cyclists being on the road, either for exercise or to travel to work while avoiding public transport – since lockdown began in late March.
Weekday cycling levels doubled early on during the lockdown period, and were three times their usual levels on some weekends, according to government figures.
Getting more people on bikes for keeping fit or to commute remains a key part of official strategy as the country emerges from lockdown.
But with the number of cars on the road back at pre-lockdown levels, More Than has urged motorists to be aware that they will encounter more people on bikes on the road.
The company’s head of car insurance, Gareth Davies, said: “Bike sales have boomed during lockdown as Brits are looking to stay active and avoid public transport. But unfortunately, our data shows this has prompted an increase in car insurance claims for injured cyclists.
“As drivers, it’s really important to take extra precautions now that there are more cyclists on the road. Indicate clearly and give yourself and cyclists plenty of space to manoeuvre so that, if anything unexpected occurs, there is more margin for error.
“Junctions and blind corners are also hot spots when it comes to accidents with cyclists, so be extra careful and slow down when navigating these tricky turns.”
He added: “For cyclists, please wear a helmet and bright or reflective clothing – it could save your life.
“It is also important to use cycle lanes where possible and be extra wary of the cars around you, giving them plenty of space for overtaking where it is safe to do so.
“Cyclists undertaking or passing motorists on the left-hand side can also cause accidents, so try to avoid that as much as possible.”
While wearing a cycle helmet or bright clothing is recommended in the Highway Code, neither is a legal requirement – although insurance companies whose policyholders are involved in a personal injury claim involving a cyclist will often argue that not wearing such equipment places some liability for a collision on the injured party.
Likewise, there is no legal requirement for cyclists to use cycle lanes – for faster riders, it is generally safer to ride on the main carriageway – nor is passing a queue of traffic to the left, also known as filtering, against the law.
Many cyclist might think that More Than's appeal to its motor insurance customers is more motivated by reducing its potential claims costs, rather than being primarily aimed at protecting cyclists.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.