Incorrect use of armadillos causes cyclist to crash

One January evening in 2021, James was cycling in a westerly direction on Princes Street, Edinburgh.

It was dark and raining and he had lights fitted to his bicycle.

He was familiar with cycling in Edinburgh City Centre but had not cycled this particular route since the implementation of the Spaces for People Initiative on Princes Street. The purpose of Spaces for People was to create space during the pandemic for those cycling and walking on the pavements and roads.

James cycled past the Waverley steps to his left-hand side and ahead he could see an orange coloured bollard on the road. The orange bollard was positioned within the cycle advanced stop box which was painted on the road by the use of white markings.

As James approached the orange bollard, all of a sudden his front wheel collided with an object on the road. The object was an armadillo device that had been secured to the road with a black base and white top. The armadillo was perpendicular to the cycle lane and there was no orange bollard positioned prior to the armadillo to warn of its presence.

Below is a photo taken by James at the time of the incident showing the road layout on Princes Street.Layout on Princes Street on night of the crashAs a result of colliding with the armadillo, James was thrown from his bicycle and sustained facial injuries. He became anxious when cycling near traffic and following the incident chose routes which avoided roads as much as possible. He also started to use public transport instead of cycling.

This image below from Google Maps shows the road layout at the time of the incident.
Layout on Google Maps at time of incidentAs part of the Spaces for People Initiative, The City of Edinburgh Council put in place a temporary widening of the pavement outside Waverley steps. They used armadillo devices and bollards to do this but they failed to remove the white cycle symbols painted on the road and placed the bollards and armadillos on top of the cycle box. This was misleading and hazardous to cyclists.

Following James’s incident, the Council painted white arrows on the road to direct cyclists where to cycle and the white cycle symbols were removed. See image below taken in April 2021.

New white arrows painted on the roadThe armadillos and bollards have also since been removed, Google maps September 2022.

Armadillos and bollards removed - Sept 2022At Cycle Law Scotland we intimated a claim on behalf of James as the road layout presented a hazard. The City of Edinburgh Council denied liability on the basis that the armadillos and bollards were there to be seen and James should have avoided them.

We instructed an independent expert in Cycling Safety to provide a report on the road layout implemented by the Council. The expert provided a supportive report confirming that the use of armadillos and bollards at this location were a hazard to cyclists. The placement of armadillos created a hazard to cyclists due to their low level in height, especially if encountered side on and they were also a potential trip hazard for pedestrians when crossing the road. As liability was denied, we therefore progressed James’s case by raising it as a Court action.

Once raised in Court, the defenders initially made an offer for us to abandon the case on the basis that James should have observed the bollards and armadillos and avoided them. However, we rejected this offer and conducted further research on the intended use of armadillos. We identified that they are designed to delineate cycle lanes and separate them from vehicular traffic.

It seemed clear to us that the Council had not used the armadillos for their intended purpose and that their presence constituted a hazard. We made this case to the Council’s solicitors and while liability was never admitted, an offer was forthcoming and duly accepted.

We were delighted to have been able to successful assist James with his claim for injury and James said:

“Cycle Law Scotland were excellent in the handling of my case. They kept me updated throughout all the proceedings and successfully won my case. I would highly recommend CLS.”


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