Cycling to work
Edinburgh based Chris Reid was cycling to work in the rain early on the morning of 10th June 2014.
He was using the cycle path at Craigleith and was heading towards Roseburn. There had recently been resurfacing works completed on the cycle path. As Chris hit the ‘anti-skid’ surface, his bike went from underneath him and he fell to the ground. It was wet and, as a result, the ‘anti-skid’ surface had become particularly slippery. He sustained soft tissue injuries to his right arm, hip and leg. He also had damage to his jacket.
Chris asked fellow cyclists on the Edinburgh Cycling Forum for a recommendation as to who to contact to progress a claim for his injuries and damaged jacket. Cycle Law Scotland was the choice of many and so he contacted specialist cycling Lawyer, Jodi Gordon. She immediately intimated a claim to the City of Edinburgh Council. A response was received within two weeks of the incident denying liability on the basis that “an approved anti-skid coating” had been applied. According to the Council, this coating “fell within the acceptable tolerances, however, due to the perception of the surface being slippery, the Council instructed a further higher grade coating be used.”
Submission of a Freedom of Information Request
A Freedom of Information request was therefore submitted in order to obtain the relevant documents relating to the resurfacing and any prior complaints and incidents on that particular stretch of cycle path. We were rather astonished to receive a response from the Council refusing our request on the grounds that it would “substantially prejudice the course of justice.” This was despite the fact the Council’s own insurers were denying liability on the grounds there had been no negligence.
Information Commissioner intervenes
The response from the Council contradicted the denial of liability from their insurers entirely. In order to advance matters further, a request was made to the Information Commissioner who promotes and enforces the public's right to ask for information held by Scottish public authorities. Following a review by the Commissioner, it was accepted that the Council’s decision to refuse to release the information was not acceptable and all documents requested were released.
From the information provided, it became clear that Mr Reid’s incident was not the first to be reported to the Council and that they were aware of the inherently slippery nature of the cycle path surface. Furthermore, it showed that upon testing “the friction of the non-skid surface was less that the surrounding tarmac.”
Other cyclists had fallen from their bikes
City of Edinburgh Council must have known that, following resurfacing, the cycle path was so slippery that at least two cyclists had fallen from their bikes. After all, the Council had reports of the same logged onto their system. In turn, the Council’s insurers should have been aware of the hazardous cycle path, yet they refused to consider a negotiated settlement and, in fact, denied liability. Undeterred by the intransigence of the Council’s insurers, Jodi drafted Court papers and raised an action for Chris Reid in Edinburgh Sheriff Court in December 2015. The value of the case was agreed at £2,400 and after considerable attempts to put the blame at the door of the company responsible for resurfacing the cycle path, the Council eventually caved in, admitted liability and settled the case in Chris Reid’s favour.
Chris was delighted with the outcome and praised the tenacity of Jodi and her team. He said “I am very happy with the result and would like to thank you for your efforts and especially your perseverance with my case.”