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Why Don’t More Britons Cycle?

With the obvious health benefits of cycling and average car journeys of just 8.5 miles, you may well wonder why more Britons don’t cycle.

Regular cyclists enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and with a life expectancy of two years above average. Exercise like this can help people to manage conditions like diabetes, which affects around one in 11 people, and a recent study by the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, America, suggest it can considerably cut the risk of 13 types of cancer.

Sadly when it comes to legal protection for cyclists the UK is behind most of our neighbours in Europe, as one of only five countries in Europe that have not adopted the “presumed liability system” – along with Cyprus, Malta, Romania and Ireland.

As a lawyer instructed by cyclists, including members of Cycling UK, I regularly come across examples of bad driving resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. 

Currently under English and Scottish law, a claimant in a civil claim has the high burden of proving their case. Cyclists are often not in a position to provide evidence on liability, for example, if they have been knocked from their bicycle they may not know what happened.

In most other European countries an injured cyclist does not need to prove that a motorist was negligent.

Recent surveys reveal that while 5.1 million people cycle three or more times a week, 41.4 million people never cycle at all. Sixty-seven per cent of non-cyclists believe that it is too dangerous, while 48 per cent of people who do cycle agree.

Several road and cycling safety campaigners, including Cycling UK, the UK’s national cycling charity, have called for ‘presumed liability’ to be brought to the UK, meaning a defendant driver would be presumed to be at fault unless proven otherwise.

Road safety awareness is of course of paramount importance but, unfortunately, UK laws make it the worst place in Europe for a cyclist to be injured by a motorist.

For more information on this, please see my previous blog: Cycling Accidents and Presumed Liability: UK vs Europe

Richard Gaffney is Slater and Gordon’s principal lawyer for Cycling UK (previously CTC), the national cycling charity.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide you with free legal advice on cycling accident claims in an online guide that you can download and print.

Call us for a free consultation on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

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