Junctions danger area for cyclists

Bridge Street/Station Road junction in Ellon.
Bridge Street/Station Road junction in Ellon.

A NEW study has identified junctions as the worst danger area for Scotland’s cyclists.

According to the survey, nearly half of all road accidents across the country involving cyclists and motorists have occurred at crossroads, junctions or roundabouts when drivers fail to spot riders.

The statistics are revealed in a report from Cycle Law Scotland (CLS), a specialist legal service for those involved in a road traffic accident through no fault of their own.

The findings, based on cases brought to the firm between 2010 and 2012 show 38% of collisions took place at crossroads or junctions, while 11% were at roundabouts. In all cases, primary fault and responsibility was found to lie with the motorist. Other main causes of accidents included drivers cutting left across the cyclist’s path (14%), not leaving the cyclist enough space when overtaking (11%) and drivers hitting the cyclist from behind (11%).

The report includes cases from Aberdeen and Grampian, Edinburgh and Lothians, Glasgow and West of Scotland, Central Lowlands, Fife, Highlands and the Scottish Borders. It was recorded that 45% of accidents occurred in the Greater Glasgow area while 35% took place in the Edinburgh area. In 72% of all cases the cyclists were wearing safety helmets.

Scotland has 2.7 million licensed vehicles and two thirds of the adult population hold a driver’s licence. While journeys by bike remain comparatively low, in 2011, 824 cyclists were injured in accidents reported to police (Transport Scotland).

At present, civil law around road traffic accidents in Scotland uses a system of fault-based compensation. This means it can take months or even years for the injured cyclist or their family to prove fault and receive any sort of compensation for medical care or loss of earnings, when responsibility in most cases lies with the motorist.

Last Thursday. Cycle Law Scotland present the findings of the report to the Cross-Party Group on Cycling in the Scottish Parliament, as part of its Road Share campaign.

The aim of the organisation is to change civil law in Scotland by replacing the current system with one based on strict liability.

Cycle Law Scotland founder and keen cyclist, Brenda Mitchell, said: “The vast majority of motorists are never involved in accidents with cyclists and hopefully never will be.

“Our research shows problem areas and that how a simple change in attitude of some drivers on the road to cyclists will make a huge difference. Strict liability must be seen as one of just a number of steps that can be taken now to improve cycle safety and safe road share.

“Our report shows and we believe that the right mindset of respect to all vulnerable road users can begin to be achieved by introducing a system of strict liability, improved infrastructure, and increasing cycle awareness for new drivers under instruction.

“Cycle Law Scotland is also pushing for the re-introduction of the cycle proficiency test into primary schools and Cyclecraft lessons in secondary schools.”

Ms Mitchell, a personal injury lawyer, added: “Strict liability offers a simple, yet powerful, change in civil law that would foster the conditions needed to protect the most vulnerable road users and by creating a road user hierarchy based on mutual respect between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Figures indicate that cyclists injured in accidents involving a car currently wait, on average, 6-9 months to receive compensation, when the case is relatively straightforward.

In serious or fatal injuries, the cyclists or their families can wait in excess of two years before their case is decided.