02 February 2012
Paul Kitson - The Times Cities Fit for Cycling Campaign
Paul Kitson - Joint Head of PI & Head of RJWs Cycle Accident Unit writes on The Times Cities for Cycling Campaign"I applaud The Times/Kaya Burgess for the launch of the cycle safety campaign. The tragic incident involving The Times reporter Mary Bowers is sadly all too commonplace. Here at RJW we receive nearly 1,000 cycle accident instructions per annum - on behalf of both CTC members and non members. As trauma surgeon, Major Thomas Konig, points out on page 9 of The Times "a tiny mistake can cost a life". Current cases I am dealing with include the following:
-cyclist killed by a motorist who drove into the back him. The motorist claimed to be blinded by the sun. The cyclist`s wife & daughter were with him as his life ebbed away hours later in hospital.
-part time nurse & cycling enthusiast left paralysed when a 90 year visually impaired motorist made a right hand turn across her path as she was cycling down a hill. Police tested the driver`s eyesight - he was only able to read a number plate from 4.8 metres!
-young female cyclist hit by a left hand turning lorry & left with a severe spinal injury - this has severely impacted on her working capacity.
-company director hit from behind by a motorist - left with spinal & brain injuries - he is unable to work & will have lifetime care needs.
-cyclist who ended up under London bus. His leg was later amputated in hospital.
It is completely unacceptable that a cyclist in the UK is 3 times more likely to be killed than a Dutch cyclist. Is it any wonder that only 2.2% of people in the UK give cycling as their main mode of transport compared to 31.2% in the Netherlands. Whilst cycling is becoming more popular in the UK, the number of cycle journeys in London doubling over the past decade, we still have a long way to go to match the safety standards of the Netherlands, Germany or Denmark. The fact is that the more cyclists there are on the roads the safer it is as this increases cycle awareness of road users.
The aim of the Times campaign is "encourage more cycling and to ensure that more cyclists can cycle more safely in Britain". This is worthy cause which Russell Jones & Walker strongly supports. Cycling is a superb activity, eco friendly & provides excellent health benefits as well as an efficient alternative to using the London Underground or being stuck in a traffic jam. What we need in the UK is substantially more investment in the cycling infrastructure so that there is increased confidence in taking to the road on a bicycle."Paul Kitson is a partner in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker, and also head of the Personal Injury department. Paul specialises in cycling accident claims.