Foster (1) v Maguire (2) Irwell Construction Ltd (2001)

A cyclist collided with a van and trailer blocking the cycle lane in which she was travelling.

Mr Maguire was driving a van with a trailer attached along the A584. As this point, the A584 is a clearway dual carriageway road where stopping was only permitted in emergencies. He had just performed a u-turn before bringing his vehicle to a stationary position in the designated cycle lane in order to erect advanced wanring signs for road maintenance works. He was parked with his hazard lights on but the way he was parked prevented the lane being used by cyclists.

It was raining at the time and there was a considerable amount of surface water spray from vehicles travelling at or near to the national speed. As a result, visibility was reduced.

Ms Foster was riding her bicycle in the cycle lane. She was riding in race position with her head down. For at least 185m, she had cycled with her head down. Mr Maguire had been aware that Ms Foster was riding her bicycle as he had observed her when he was performing his u-turn. Ms Foster did not observe the van and collided with Mr Maguire’s trailer.

At the trial, the judge found that Ms Foster should have observed the van and looked up. He found that Mr Maguire parking across the cycle lane did not present a reasonably foreseeable, obstructive source of danger to anyone and instead blamed Ms Foster’s failure to look as the sole cause of the collision. Ms Foster appealed against this decision.

The appeal court found that Mr Maguire should have known that if he stopped across the cycle lane, this would cause Ms Foster to either collide with his vehicle or go out onto the busy carriageway where she was at greater risk of injury from a fast-moving vehicle. Mr Maguire should have known that considerable surface spray might prevent Ms Foster from seeing the van and therefore should have avoided parking there.

The appeal court also found that he should not have stopped across the cycle lane as it was not necessary for him to do so and, in any event, there was a safe stopping place further along the road. For these reasons, the majority of judges held that Mr Maguire was negligent and had caused the collision.

On considering contributory negligence, the cyclist was held to be 70% at fault for the incident due to the fact that she had failed to keep a proper lookout for her own safety and, as a result, collided with the rear of the van.


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