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Road Safety Week: Pedestrian versus Bicycle – Where do I stand?

19 November 2018

You may have seen the recent reports on the criminal trial which saw Mr Charlie Alliston charged with the Victorian offence of “wanton or furious driving”. In response, the Government is now launching a fresh review into whether new law is required in order to tackle dangerous cycling.

Mr Alliston was charged after killing pedestrian Kim Briggs whilst riding a fixed gear bike with no front brakes last year. The charge of this offence is now used when it is not possible to seek redress under the Road Traffic Act 1988 i.e., when the vehicle in the crime was not mechanically propelled – and in cases of serious injury or death caused by a cyclist's actions.

With statistically more and more people travelling either to work or cycling for leisure purposes than ever before, and with the increase in ‘gig-economy’ cyclists, now more than ever there is an increased risk of being seriously harmed by a cyclist.

Whilst there are reviews now taking place in terms of the criminal aspects of cycling accidents, what can an injured party do if they have been involved in an accident with a cyclist if they are pedestrian?

Seeking compensation against a cyclist

Unfortunately, there is no legislation making insurance for cyclists compulsory. So, much like there is for car drivers, unless a cyclist is cycling during the course of his employment, there is very little an injured party can do in terms of seeking compensation for any injury sustained.

If a cyclist is riding during the course of their employment, then there is a possibility that a personal injury claim could be pursued against the cyclist’s employer. The cyclist’s employer is vicariously liable for the actions of the cyclist if they are cycling as part of their job description.

What if the cyclist who hit me was not cycling during the course of his employment?

Unfortunately, as the current law stands there is very little that a Claimant could potentially do in terms of seeking redress against an individual who is cycling for purposes other than for work.

There is always a possibility of considering going against an individual in terms of seeking compensation, but generally this is ill-advised. A potential Defendant could be liable not only for compensation but also for the Claimant’s legal costs if the claimant’s claim is successful. Which means that unless the Defendant has significant means or holds significant assets, it would be ill-advised to seek redress against them individually as it may be that any judgment that is ordered could not be satisfied.

It may be as the Government considers the position with regard to changing cycling laws in light of the recent dangerous cycling incident, and that cycling insurance may become compulsory. This of course would change the landscape in terms of potential claims against cyclists who have caused unnecessary injury due to dangerous cycling.

If you consider this situation applies to you, our specialist team of solicitors can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Please contact 01483 543210 and ask to speak to one of the Personal Injury team and they will happily speak to you further about this.

Further Reading
  • Road Safety Week: Protecting yourself from a Head Injury whilst using your motorbike (read article)
  • Road Safety Week: Keeping children safe on bicycles (read article)
  • Road Safety Week: Saving lives with the ‘Dutch Reach’ (read article)
  • Road Safety Week – Cycle Safety Infographic (read article)