Road safety record not Olympic standard

Twelve cycling medals make Britain the leading track cycling nation and the jubilant scenes in Rio will inspire many more people to take up the sport.
 
The only disappointment is that we cannot transfer this enthusiasm for cycling into our everyday commute to work or trip to the shops.
 
Perhaps, this is because success on the track is simply not matched by our record for road safety.
 
In 2015, serious injury to cyclists in Scotland was nearly 22% higher than the 2004-2008 average, with 164 reported cases. This can only partly be explained by higher levels of cycling.
 
Beyond the reported cyclist casualties, there is also significant evidence of unreported casualties, many of which involved non-trivial injuries such as fractures and severe bruising. Most cyclists will also know that ‘near misses’ are a regular occurrence.
 
The Government is investing more into active travel and there has been considerable progress in terms of infrastructure and cycle skills training, but more needs to be done to change the culture on our roads.
 
We need behavioural change, where there is acceptance by all road users to share the roads and in particular where motorists – and cyclists – accept their responsibility of being in control of a powerful vehicle. I believe this can be achieved through a change in legislation.
 
A presumed liability regime in Civil Law underpins a culture of mutual respect and works successfully in the most popular cycling nations in Europe. It creates a hierarchy of responsibility whereby motor vehicle drivers (via their insurer) would be presumed liable for any loss, injury and damage caused to a cyclist involved in a collision. Under such a system, the burden of proof lies with the more powerful and not with the vulnerable – often injured or bereaved – as it is at present.
 
It ensures fairness, while protecting the vulnerable, because it says we care more about the individual than any damage to a car. If we introduce presumed liability, perhaps cycling on the roads would be as normal as breaking records on the track.











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