THE BLOG

Cycling Safety This Summer

14/07/2017 11:48

The most recent road traffic collision (RTC) figures from April 2017 show that, for several years running, July has been the most dangerous time of year for cyclists, with the summer weather encouraging reluctant cyclists to dust the cobwebs off their bikes and hit the roads.

In summer, the capital also sees an influx of tourists exploring the city on Santander Cycles. Yet while collisions do happen, many people are unaware of the legal remedies available to help them recover. You may be insured against the cost of a cycling collision, even if you are not aware of it.

The figures show that every year this increase in the number of cyclists over the summer months is accompanied by a significant spike in the number of RTCs.

We are all too aware of the safety risks cyclists face on the capital's roads, particularly at major junctions and traffic black spots. Cycling fatalities are becoming an alarmingly frequent occurrence and as a keen cyclist, for me this brings home the stark reality of the dangers that cyclists face.

However, it's not just cars and reckless driving causing collisions. As the yearly summer spike in RTC's demonstrates, the more cyclists on our roads, the more likely we are to see situations involving them, be it cyclist on cyclist collisions, cyclists hitting pedestrians or equally pedestrians colliding with cyclists - all of which can have a significant and potentially devastating impact on people's lives.

The number of cyclists in London has increased significantly over the past 15 years with more than 670,000 trips now made by bicycle every day in the capital - a 130 per cent increase since 2000. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has committed to increasing this further and make riding a bike the "safe and obvious" transport choice for Londoners.

Boosting cycling is important, not least because of the health benefits, but also to reduce congestion and air pollution. However, it is vital that as more people take up cycling, we also ensure that they know their rights and responsibilities should they be involved in a collision. In cases involving serious injuries, people also need to know that there is a legal recourse and they can get access to justice, and the compensation and rehabilitation they may require.

Cyclists are not required to have formal insurance in the UK, in the same way that vehicle owners and drivers do, however, it is a common misperception that this means that they are not insured and there is therefore no route for victims to secure compensation.

In fact, cyclists are often insured through other mechanisms, such as their home insurance or in a recent case I worked on, through a cycling club insurance policy. They can be difficult to find, but personal injury experts can and do find ways to get justice for victims. Equally, these same mechanisms can come into play when a pedestrian causes a collision.

Some insurance policies also include a third-party reverse payment clause, meaning that the claimant's own insurance company will pay out compensation following a judgement in their favour, in lieu of the defendant doing so. They then look to recoup the money on the claimant's behalf. This can help to speed things up and ensure that victims get the support they need, when they need it.

This is not about creating a culture of blame, but ensuring that when serious collisions happen victims can access the support they need - no matter who was at fault - giving people the confidence of knowing that there is a system in place should they need it, and maybe even encouraging people to use their bikes all year around, not just in summer.

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