I was just thinking the forums had forgotten about the possibility of pursuing some form of vulnerable road users legislation.
Then this article popped up...
Philip PankTransport Correspondent
Mark Cavendish, the cycle road race world champion who is tipped to win Britain’s first gold medal at the London Olympics, today calls on ministers to consider European laws to protect cyclists.
The fastest man on two wheels says that if drivers knew that they would face harsh penalties if they knocked down a cyclist they would pay more attention and safety would improve.
He cited the example of the Netherlands and Belgium, where there is a presumption of liability against drivers involved in crashes with cyclists.
In most European countries the onus is on drivers to prove their innocence in collisions resulting in civil law suits for damages. The reverse is true in Britain, where cyclists or their families have to prove that the driver was at fault if they are to win a civil action.
Change would be opposed by many motorists, but Cavendish said that in return cyclists would have to ride within the law, a move that would help ease tensions with drivers.
“In Holland and Belgium the actual law is if the driver of a motorised vehicle has an accident with a cyclist, unless the driver can actively prove it was the cyclist’s fault it is the driver’s fault. There is an assumption of guilt on the driver,” he told The Times during a break in training for the Tour de France and Olympic Games.
“I would like to see it examined, for sure. Cyclists can be in the wrong a lot of the time. They have got to ride within the law … but if people know there is a problem if they hit a cyclist they will look more, they have to be more aware of cyclists.”
Road safety campaigners, lawyers and MPs are all pressing for “strict liability” laws used in other countries.
Supporters say that the difference may contribute to casualty rates that are far higher in Britain than on mainland Europe. A British cyclist is three times more likely to be killed than a rider in the Netherlands and twice as likely as a peer in Denmark or Germany. The UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus are the only countries in Western Europe without some degree of liability. In the Netherlands, the driver is presumed to be at fault in all civil cases involving children. Drivers are also held liable in Sweden, where compensation payments are paid through a charge levied on car insurance premiums.
Cavendish admitted that there are times when he is scared of cycling on British roads. “It is not any deliberate hatred towards cyclists, there is no hatred towards cyclists, but we are still a developing country in terms of cycling being embedded in the culture so it is just the awareness of bikes,” he said. “People don’t realise that a bike might be coming up.”
Asked what single change would be most likely to improve cycle safety, he said: “The realisation that a consequence will come without looking out for cyclists. If you hit a cyclist there is a life gone. If it is embedded in your culture that cyclists are around it just raises awareness. It has got to be an evolution over time.
“That is the point. They don’t do it to penalise drivers over there. They do it so that drivers have to look. Ultimately in Belgium as well if a cyclist jumps a red light there is a severe punishment. I believe I am the first to stand up and say cyclists have to be more responsible as well. Cutting a red light might just aggravate someone who will take it out on a general cyclist.”
Cavendish, who won the road race World Championship and the coveted Tour de France green jersey last year, hopes to win gold on July 28 on the 250km course between London and the Surrey hills.
He praised the Cities fit for Cycling campaign and singled out this newspaper’s call to fit sensors and extra mirrors to lorries as a tangible means of improving cycle safety.
“It is easy enough to do on lorries. The blindspots on lorries are incredible, and the biggest cause of accidents with cyclists is between cyclists and lorries. I really think it is a good thing.”
Last night Mike Penning, the Road Safety Minister, said that the Government would not change the law. “Making a motorist automatically at fault for an accident with a cyclist, unless he or she can prove otherwise, would be unfair where someone is driving entirely responsibly — or when there is an accident where no one is to blame,” he said.
Great idea, whilst legislation is after the fact ie after the accident such a law would greatly increase the procycling side of the cyclist-car debate and be of educative value to motorists.
Hip pocket education does work, and perhaps protect the next cyclist. An example of Report No CASR071 'Analysis of infringement data from fixed red light and speed cameras at signalised intersections in South Australia' released this month at http://casr.adelaide.edu.au/publications/list/?id=1286
Doddsy, seems that one must now subscribe to The Times to read the article.
Right on, i tried to click the link through my android phone and it asked for money in order to read the article.
I copied and pasted the article above, i normally wait until the story dies out until i store the content on these forums.
Please Click the link people.
Let us hope that online charging results in an increase in social media instead of the usual news limited and fairfax (now tainted by rinehart) garbage.
I read it and don't subscribe. Close the pop up window and keep looking and you should find the article. It was a bit confusing.
It's great that high profile cyclists put pressure on law makers.
I've been thinking with the Olympics coming up, and seeing a few Olympians out on our roads, that there is no other world class sport where participants are required to train on a public space and especially a road shared with cars and trucks.
How has "Strict Liability" been mis-understood ?
Changing legal liability doesn't in itself change how the streets feel. The lack of cycling in other countries is not due merely to worries about a lack of compensation for remaining family after a family member has been crushed by a truck. Rather, people are scared to cycle due to worry about being crushed by a truck in the first place. This change of law does not in itself encourage a higher rate of cycling. That was never its purpose.
In addition, how the law works is somewhat different to what many people outside the Netherlands have been told. Drivers are not held 100% liable for all crashes with cyclists. That would be quite unreasonable as there are many reasons why drivers might not be wholly responsible.
The law draws a distinction at the age of 14 years. In a collision with a cyclist or pedestrian aged under 14, a motorist is likely to be held to be responsible. However, a cyclist or pedestrian who is older than 14 years of age is expected to know how to behave on the streets and is likely to be held at least partly responsible in the event of a crash. If they're behaving recklessly then they can instantly expect at least 50% of the blame for any collision. An adult pedestrian dressed in black and crossing a road without looking can expect to be held to be liable for damage to a motor vehicle which hits him. That is what the law makes clear.
It's also important to realise that this law is only concerned with material damage and financial responsibilty. For example, if children are hit by a car in the Netherlands, the drivers insurance can never try to claim for compensation from the family of the victim. It could also help to determine who pays for repair or replacement of an adult's bicycle which has been run over by a truck. However, this law is not concerned with allocating blame, or with imprisoning bad drivers.
We are still the ones that cop the injuries.
Michael, good article.
“when there is an accident where no one is to blame"
I doubt that he cycle commutes. Reminds me of "the cyclist came out of nowhere", "the sun was in my eyes", etc.
good idea, people need to get over the idea that the bigger vehicle is more important
That someone in control of a potentially lethal object or situation should be held accountable for their use or misuse of it is not a new principle. For examples, check out the Bible, Numbers chapter 35, verses 16 to 18,
If a man strikes someone with an iron object so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. Or if anyone has a stone in his hand that could kill, and he strikes someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. Or if anyone has a wooden object in his hand that could kill, and he hits someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death.
or Deuteronomy chapter 22, verse 8.
When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.
These "laws" (which are the laws for ancient national Israel, but the principles still apply) assume guilt in the cases mentioned, but (in their context) provide protection for the innocent.
Sadly, English jurisprudence (which we share) has often been lacking in upholding fundamental protection for the vulnerable, e.g. "enclosure" laws, judgements that an employer did not have responsibility to protect workers from avoidable danger, etc.
What is so strange about the concept that the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an incident with a vulnerable road user should have to prove innocence? If you have the potential weapon, do not abuse it.