Expansion joint proves to be a hazard

David Robinson, an experienced road cyclist, was leading a group of 12 riders on a 65 mile Sunday morning ride on 1st December 2013.

The group was heading north along the A701 with David taking the lead position alongside another member of the group so they were riding two abreast.

As the group approached a small bridge over the Biggar Water in the Borders village of Broughton, David noticed grit at the base of the left-hand wall of the bridge. He moved to his right to situate himself closer to the centre line of the road to allow the other rider next to him more room to avoid the grit.Expansion Joint

Suddenly and without warning, David’s bike came to an abrupt halt. He described his handlebars as being “ripped out of his hands”. The bike came to a stop with such force that it threw him over the handlebars resulting in a fracture dislocation to his left elbow which required surgery. His BMC Street Racer Road Bike was also damaged extensively.

Cycle Law Scotland believed that the cause of the accident had been a 4 metre long metal strip, of about 2 or 3 inches in width, running in a diagonal line from southwest to northeast across the path of the left-hand carriageway of the bridge.

This appeared to be a straightforward road defect claim given that Mr Robinson had not contributed in any way to his accident and the polished metal strip was a hazard to cyclists. However, Scottish Borders Council, the local authority responsible for the road, refused to admit liability and the case was raised in the Court of Session.

During the court hearing, the Solicitor Advocate for Scottish Borders Council argued that, “the metal strip did not constitute a defect, or anything which the defenders, as a roads authority, were under any duty to remove or alter.”

Cycle Law Scotland had to prove, on balance of probability, that the metal strip which caused Mr Robinson’s accident constituted a “hazard”; that is, that it presented a “risk of an accident to a person proceeding along the road in question with due skill and care”: per Lord Drummond Young in MacDonald v Aberdeenshire Council 2003 SC 114.

In the decision handed down by Lady Wolffe, she found for David Robinson and agreed with Cycle Law Scotland’s averment that the metal strip did, in fact, constitute a hazard, and that the hazard would have been apparent to a roads authority inspector of ordinary competence using reasonable care.

Cycle Law Scotland secured this result by instructing one of Scotland’s leading Counsel, Mr Steve Love and two leading expert witnesses, Mr Peter Dixon, Civil Engineer and the world renowned cycle mechanic, Sandy Gilchrist.

Expertise and Experience makes the difference.

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