The safety of cyclists on the UK’s roads has been in the spotlight again this month.
Last week saw the sentencing in Bristol of Nicholas Lovell to over 10 years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving. Mr Lovell was already banned from driving when he collided with husband and wife Ross and Clare Simons, who were enjoying a ride on their tandem bicycle at the time. Both sustained fatal injuries in the collision and could not be saved by the emergency services.
Research by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) shows that in the year 2011/2012 over 19,000 cyclists were injured on the UK’s roads. Of those 19,000, approximately 3,000 were killed or sustained life-changing injuries.
ROSPA’s research also highlights that the severity of the injuries suffered by a cyclist increases with the speed limit in force; the higher the speed limit on the road, the more likely it is that a cyclist involved in a collision will be killed or seriously injured. Therefore whilst most cyclist injuries occur in urban areas where cycling is most common, almost half of cyclist deaths occur on rural roads where speed limits are more relaxed.
I recently acted for Mr R, who suffered injuries in a cycling accident in the South West. Mr R was a very experienced cyclist and was training for a cycling event at the time of his accident. His training cycles took him on rural roads near his home which he was very familiar with. On the day of the accident, he was nearing the end of his ride when he heard what he thought was a large vehicle approaching him from behind. He moved over to the left of the lane to allow the vehicle to pass. The vehicle was a large coach and as it passed Mr R, it collided with him. Mr R was thrown from his bicycle, landing in the middle of the road.
Mr R suffered extensive soft tissue injuries. In the days after the accident, he developed tinnitus and suffered nightmares and flashbacks. Some months later, Mr R was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and underwent therapy sessions to help him to cope with the long term effects of the accident.
The coach company did not initially accept responsibility for the accident and even alleged that Mr R had been partly to blame for the accident. I therefore issued and served Court proceedings and shortly after, the coach company’s solicitors made an offer to settle. Mr R’s claim eventually settled for over £25,000.
The safety of cyclists will continue to dominate the news unless motorists become more aware of cyclists as road users. Cyclists will almost always suffer worse injuries in a collision as they have much less protection than vehicle drivers. Motorists therefore need to be more careful to look out for cyclists, particularly at roundabouts and T junctions where most accidents in urban areas occur.