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Stewart White, SolicitorI have watched with interest the online debate regarding the recent proposals by Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland to introduce strict liability which would transfer of the burden of proof to drivers as opposed to cyclists in collisions involving the two.  At present if a cyclist is injured by a motor car, they have to prove that the driver was negligent in order to win compensation for their injuries.  If the proposed development is seen through then this would transfer the position away from the cyclist and on to the driver to prove culpability of the cyclist. 

The first argument that seems to be punted about is that the cyclist should pay road tax which is the usual ignorant response one would expect but there is no such thing as road tax these days.  It is known as Vehicle Excise Duty and is a levy on the emissions from motor vehicles.  The second argument is cyclists should have insurance. Again, a bit of a nonsense argument in my opinion because what damage can a bike that weighs a fraction of a motor car do to a motor car?  I would argue that it would be merely cosmetic and not beyond the cyclist to meet these costs out of their own funds in the event that they aren’t insured and are at fault.  There may be other circumstances where cyclists could inflict more serious damage but those in my view, are very few and far between and far outweigh any argument that all cyclists should have insurance.  

It has to be borne in mind that some cyclists are drivers and vice versa. There are people who don’t abide by the law of the road whether they are a cyclist or a driver so you will always have a minority of idiots regardless of whether they have a car or a bike.  For the record, I am both a driver and a cyclist and spend more time driving than I do cycling but I see this law as being one that will benefit cyclists who are injured at the hands of negligent drivers. The other aspect of the argument which slightly irks me is that it isn’t really strict liability because if a cyclist was to cause an accident then it wouldn’t be the way of it that the driver would be liable to them for compensation.

It’s now time for Britain to wake up in light of the increasing cycling culture which I am glad to say has been enhanced by Messrs Hoy & Wiggins achievements.  Active travel is something that should be promoted by governments and I would like to see the Government impose similar schemes to that which they have in London for Boris Bikes and his very safe Cycle Super Highway.  In an ideal world, perhaps not in my lifetime, there will be separate cycling provision like they have in Amsterdam where cyclists, pedestrians, trams and all motor vehicles will exist in a safe and sufficient manner, I know the last part sounds as bonkers as George Bush’s proclamation that humans and fish can co exist peacefully but I really do believe that the Government of today, failing which, tomorrow can make it happen in the UK.

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