Sally Nicol v Andrzej Waldemar Kupinski (2017)
On 21 April 2015 at around 1030am, Sally Nicol was riding her bicycle within a group of 4 very experienced club cyclists on the A811 Gartocharn to A809 road.
The group was travelling East at a speed of around 25mph. The weather conditions were dry and visibility was good. The group of cyclists was riding in chain gang formation for safety and efficiency purposes. Sally was riding in position no 2 immediately behind the lead cyclist.
The riders noticed ahead a large articulated lorry parked up on the left hand verge with its hazard warning lights on. The lorry took up most of the left hand carriageway. The road ahead was clear apart from one oncoming car which was in the distance so it was safe for the group of cyclists to overtake the lorry.
All four did their safety checks before pulling out, however, just as they started the overtaking manoeuvre and were within a few metres of the rear of the lorry, the driver without any warning slowly moved the lorry forwards on the eastern carriageway of the A811 in the same direction as the group of cyclists.
The lead cyclist had to take immediate evasive action and braked sharply to avoid colliding with the lorry. Sally also braked sharply but she was unable to avoiding colliding with the rear of the lead rider’s bike.
Sally was thrown from her bike and landed on her back on the opposite carriageway. She sustained multiple injuries (pelvic fracture and soft tissue injuries) as a result of the collision and had to be airlifted to hospital.
Sheriff Fife concluded that Sally Nicol and her fellow cyclists were all credible and reliable witnesses. They all spoke to the safety benefits of riding in a chain gang formation and that the cause of the collision was as a result of the vehicle suddenly moving forward.
The defenders presented evidence from both the driver and a local farmer who had witnessed the incident. Both individuals alleged that the vehicle had not moved, however, their stories were inconsistent with each other.
Sheriff Fife therefore came to the conclusion that the pursuer had established liability on a balance of probability. Furthermore, he CONCLUDED that there was no contributory negligence on Sally’s part. No evidence had been put before the court to say what would have been a safe distance between cyclists and the witnesses for the pursuer were clear that there were both safety and efficiency benefits to a chain gang formation.
The full judgement can be read here.