Keeping cyclists safe on roads
During National Road Victim Month, Personal Injury specialist at Coodes Solicitors Bob Beard explains what cyclists can do to help keep themselves safe while riding on the road.
According to RoSPA, in 2016, around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents happened in urban areas and 80% occurred in daylight. The most frequently reported reason was driver or cyclist error and ‘failing to look properly’.
Here at Coodes, we support a growing number of clients who are looking to get their lives back on track after cycling accidents. Wearing a helmet camera can help to protect you as it can help to prove where the responsibility lies for an accident.
In some cases the fault is entirely with the driver, but on other occasions it comes to light that the cyclist’s poor road positioning was a contributing factor. This can affect the likelihood of the cyclist being able to make a claim.
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Positioning on the road while cycling
Road position is a crucial part of safer cycling. Roads can be a dangerous place for cyclists so it is important to be seen and signal your intentions. The safest and most visible place for a cyclist is the centre of the lane. This is often called the primary position or ‘taking the lane’.
In normal commuting conditions, however, cyclists usually take the secondary position, which is where you will most likely be for most of the journey. Secondary position is no closer than half a metre from the pavement or edge of the road, and a metre to the left of moving traffic. This helps traffic see you and overtake when necessary and safe to do so, but it’s important not to cycle too close to the kerb, in a ditch or over drains, as it could cause you to lose control, fall or swerve into overtaking traffic.
Changes to the Highway Code this year included new overtaking distances for drivers. There should be at least 1.5 metres between car and cyclists. When overtaking a cyclist, drivers should give as much room as they would when overtaking a car. However, cyclists should not hold up drivers unnecessarily if there is enough room to move left and for traffic to overtake.
Cyclists should not cycle on pavements unless there is a designated cycle lane and doing so could incur a fine. If a cycle path is alongside a footpath, ensure you do not cross onto the pedestrian side and take care when passing people and overtaking other cyclists.
How can helmet cameras help protect cyclists?
If you are involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation for any injuries, and any bike repairs. Footage captured by a helmet camera may help to prove who is responsible for the incident.
Footage filmed via helmet cameras is being used more frequently in both criminal and civil court cases. Cameras are useful tools to prove an incident occurred, and who was responsible for it happening, and therefore help support your claim.
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Safety gear while cycling
As well as making sure you follow the rules of the road and the correct road positioning, cyclists should also ensure that bikes are roadworthy and have the necessary protection and high visibility clothing.
If you are involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, and you were not wearing appropriate clothing and safety, it may affect your compensation. The defendant may raise the argument of contributory negligence, meaning that by not wearing recommended safety gear, you are at least partially responsible for your own injuries.
According to the Highway Code, cyclists should wear appropriate clothing to help keep them protected. This includes:
- a helmet – should conform to regulations, be the correct size and securely fastened
- appropriate fitting clothing – tight fitting to prevent it getting tangled in the chain or wheel
- light-coloured or florescent clothing – this will help you to stand out
- reflective accessories – strips on helmets, arm bands and ankle bands will help you be seen in the dark.
Bikes should be fitted with front and rear lights to make cyclists more visible in the dark. At night, cyclists must have their white front and red rear lights lit, and the bike must be fitted with a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors.
By adopting these measures, the chance of you receiving compensation is likely to increase, in the event of accident that isn’t your fault.