Cyclists – how best to protect yourselves?

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A case involving a collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist received plenty of attention in the news this week.

The facts of the case

The case involved a pedestrian stepping into the road while looking at her mobile phone. A cyclist heading towards her sounded his horn. The pedestrian moved backwards and the cyclist also swerved that way. The two collided and both were knocked unconscious. The pedestrian brought a claim against the cyclist.

At Trial, the Judge decided that the cyclist had fallen below the level expected of a reasonably competent cyclist because he proceeded when the road was not completely clear. She said that pedestrians who have established themselves on the road have right of way.

The pedestrian admitted she was looking at her phone when she stepped into the road.

The Judge hearing the case decided that primary liability should lie with the cyclist but that the pedestrian was 50% at fault. Accordingly the pedestrian’s damages, to be decided at a later date, will be reduced by half.

It certainly seems a harsh decision against the cyclist but it is difficult to fully understand the Judge’s reasoning without having sight of a copy of the full decision.

Contemplating the outcome and reflecting on my own recent cycle rides made me consider how we can best protect ourselves when out cycling and try to limit the chances of getting into a situation like this:

  1. Be cautious. It sounds straightforward but it really pays in the long run to exercise as much care as possible.

If the pavement looks busy with pedestrians ahead, slow down and proceed with more care than usual. If someone steps out try to stop and avoid a situation where you are having to dodge around someone. Sure it might take you 30 seconds longer but it could save you a bigger headache further down the line.

  1. Get a camera. There are various models of camera available for cyclists now.

I have seen helmet mounted, front mounted, rear mounted and even cameras with sound. It is much easier to work out what has actually happened when footage is available. A camera doesn’t lie or embellish the truth. If you have not got a camera and you are involved in a collision, get on Google Street view and check out potential camera locations. You can then make an application to the building managers and request any footage they have under the Data Protection Act 2018. Be quick though. Footage is usually deleted after 28 days.

  1. Get third party insurance cover.

I know that Members of the London Cycling Campaign automatically get insurance to assist them in situations such as this. Consider signing up or look for an alternative policy.

Cycling is a necessity for many and, at the same time, a great way to travel! Assessing risks is something we all do on a daily basis – protect yourself to stay safe.

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