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How we can all help prevent cycling accidents

Road Safety Week: how we can all help prevent cycling accidents

Posted on November 19, 2018, by Catherine Hyde

During Road Safety Week (19th – 25th November) Coodes Solicitors Personal Injury Lawyer, Catherine Hyde, outlines steps we can take to reduce the number of cycling accidents on our roads.

Whether it’s to get fit, cut the cost of the commute or just for fun, many people are swapping four wheels for two. Sadly, with more than 100 cyclists and motorbike riders being injured every day, more needs to be done to reduce the amount of preventable, unnecessary accidents. I welcome the focus of this year’s Road Safety Week, which is to encourage us all to think Bike Smart.

This is highly topical. The Government is now reviewing the results of a recent consultation on proposed new offences of cyclists causing death or serious injury.

At Coodes, we have supported a number of clients who have been injured while cycling, or have been in accidents involving cyclists or motorbikes. We know the devastating impact these road traffic accidents can have on everyone involved.

The most common scenario is cyclists not being seen by drivers. Cyclists are encouraged to wear high-vis, reflective clothing to make them more visible to motorists. Despite this, there is still a huge problem of drivers not seeing cyclists in time to react.

How to be more Bike Smart 

In 2016 there were nearly 18,500 cyclist casualties and over 19,000 motorcyclist casualties. The main issues involve motorists not spotting bike users, whether that’s while driving or when opening a car door, and not giving cyclists enough space when overtaking.

When we’re on the road we should all be more aware of cyclists and motorbikes. The organisers of Road Safety Awareness Week explain that their campaign focuses on:

  • Drivers looking out for people on bikes.
  • Motorists driving safely and slowly, giving bike users plenty of space.
  • Bike users riding safely with appropriate training and equipment.
  • Policy makers implementing a safe system approach and prioritising cycle friendly infrastructure.

Proposed changes to the Highway Code

The Highway Code currently states that when overtaking a cyclist, drivers should allow the same amount of room they would give when overtaking a car.

However, there has been calls to update the Highway Code to protect bike users further. One of the proposed changes is to require motorist to give way to pedestrians and cyclists when turning. Currently, drivers have the right of way at crossings, unless the person or cyclist has already stepped into the road.

Another proposal calls for car users to learn the ‘Dutch Reach’. This requires driver to use the hand furthest from the handle to open their door, in order to force drivers to check over their shoulder for passing traffic. This is in an effort to reduce the number of cyclists being knocked off their bikes from sudden opening doors, which can cause riders to fall into the path of oncoming traffic.

Campaigners hope that these measures will help boost protection for vulnerable road users and reduce the amount of road traffic collisions involving cyclists and motorbikes.

Proposed harsher penalties for cyclists

Following its recent consultation, the Government will determine whether new offences for cyclists should be introduced. The proposals being considered includes the introduction of new offences of causing death or serious injury while cycling and changes to the existing offences of dangerous and careless cycling.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is a criminal offence to cycle dangerously or carelessly. The changes put forward aim to bring the penalties closer in lined with penalties for dangerous and careless driving.

Catherine Hyde is a Member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and a lawyer in the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team at Coodes Solicitors. If you have been affected by any of these issues or for more information, please contact Catherine on 01326 318900  or at catherine.hyde@coodes.co.uk