Presumed Liability Campaign by RoadPeace
At present, our civil compensation system for personal injury is fault based. Thus, in a collision, driver error must be proven. Because the default assumption is that the driver has not contributed to the crash, their insurance company is not automatically liable for compensation. Often what will follow is a lengthy and stressful fight for compensation by the victim.
Guilt and liability aren't the same thing. Guilt is a criminal matter and liability a civil one. No-one is proposing a presumption of guilt. Presumed liability means that unless a driver can show that the behaviour of the pedestrian or cyclist was the direct cause of the accident, it is presumed that the driver bears the civil liability for the damages caused. It follows from the fact that the driver brings the danger to the scene by operating a piece of heavy machinery around people. They get the benefit of doing so but bear the liability if things go wrong - unless they can show that the other party wasn't even taking the care that they should reasonably have been expected to.
Unfortunately, in the UK the prevailing culture is that the roads belong to cars and everyone is expected to conform to their rules. Which is very bad news for vulnerable road users and why we kill and maim a disproportionate number of them (compared to civilised countries) despite frightening most of them off the road.
In cases of civil compensation, RoadPeace is calling for the reversal of the burden of proof in collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists. More details here .
Bike Week 2015 (13th – 21st June)
From the Bike Week 2015 Web site www.bikeweek.org.uk
“Bike Week is an annual opportunity to promote cycling, and show how cycling can easily be part of everyday life by encouraging ‘everyday cycling for everyone’. Demonstrating the social, health and environmental benefits of cycling, the week aims to get people to give cycling a go all over the UK, whether this be for fun, as a means of getting around to work or school, the local shops or just to visit friends. The 2015 event will take place 13-21st June but events still take place through until September and beyond!”
“This year’s Bike Week has a special focus and will encourage people to use their bikes to cycle to work. Many people will use the events to ride and take part in ‘buddy’ rides with colleagues, scope out the easiest route to their place of work or take part in work place challenges.”
Prime Minister “committed” to cycling
In a letter to Jon Snow, President of the CTC, David Cameron has stated:
"In terms of the Conservative vision for cyclng, our aim is to double cycling by 2025, not least because it means better health, less pollution and less congestion - we want it to be the natural choice for shorter journeys." "we have made clear our aim to increase spending further to £10 per person each year."
"Our election Manifesto commits us to investing over £200 million more to make cycling safer, so we reduce the number of cyclists and other road users killed or injured on our roads every year." The letter can be read here .
Doubling the number of journeys made by bicycle seems good, but in reality such a low rate of increase would see the UK achieving current Dutch levels of cycling just before the beginning of the 23rd century.
However it has to be born in mind that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy came under a Conservative led coalition, and could be the most significant step forward in UK cycling since cycles were classified as carriages on the highways.
This clause in the Infrastructure Bill requires a government strategy to specify
- (a) objectives to be achieved during the period to which it relates, and
- (b) the financial resources to be made available by the Secretary of State for the purpose of achieving those objectives.
The objectives to be achieved may include—
- (a) activities to be performed;
- (b) results to be achieved;
- (c) standards to be met.
The strategy must be reviewed every 5 years.
Cycling Delivery Plan
Based on articles on the CTC website
Tucked amongst three other cycling-related reports published by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 20 March, just before Parliament dissolved, came the Government’s response to the comments it received on its draft 'Cycling Delivery Plan' for England (CDP). In some respects, the document is reassuring, but it failed to respond to stakeholder concerns about the plan’s targets.
Commenting on respondents’ calls for a long-term commitment to funding - ‘by far the most common matter to be raised at the consultation’ - the Government refers to its recently imposed obligation to produce a 'Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy' (CWIS). How much money this will allocate, of course, is yet to be seen. The report also mentions the £588m already allocated to cycling for various purposes, and the £10 per head for cycling now enjoyed by the eight Cycling Ambition Cities and London. However we need at least £10 per head for everyone everywhere.
Knowledge sharing and best practice standards
The report also promises a ‘Knowledge Sharing Hub’ to give local authorities clearer insight into what the final plan will expect of them, while the Cycle Proofing Working Group will create a project plan to clarify what the concept of ‘cycle proofing’ means for road design.
Acknowledging the large number of respondents who called for continued funding for Bikeability, the Government says that it recognises the benefits of the cycle training, is exploring expanding the programme, and that future funding will be determined at the next spending review.
A serious omission, though, is the inadequacy of the draft CDP target, namely merely to double the number of cycling trips by 2025. On the face of it, doubling may sound like a reasonable goal, but in reality it isn’t because:
- it includes the quintupling of cycle use which is expected in London; and
- cycle use will increase to some extent anyway, simply because the population of Great Britain is probably going to grow – i.e. a doubling of trips cycled would not amount to a doubling of the percentage of trips made by cycle.
Taking account of these two factors, the Government’s target amounts to only a 74% increase in cycle trips per person outside London, not a doubling. This target looks even weaker when set against the recommendation made by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group in its 'Get Britain Cycling' report, which called for cycle trips to be more than quintupled by 2025 (from less than 2% to 10% of trips), with a further increase to 25% by 2050.
Traffic forecasts to be improved
Based on articles on the CTC website
The Department for Transport (DfT) models previously predicted that cycle use is likely to suffer a long-term decline while motor traffic continues to grow significantly. However the modelling used failed to incorporate recent positive changes in both cycle use and trip length, or the fact that motor traffic levels have largely remained flat over the last decade. Forecasts failed to account for shifts in travel behaviour that are influenced (or likely to be influenced) by social and cultural factors. Instead, they relied too heavily on economic drivers.
However, the latest ‘National Transport Model’ (NTM) publication shows that the DfT has accepted these criticisms . They have, for instance, concluded that “… the factors we typically highlight as being key drivers of road demand - incomes, costs and population - have been important drivers of recent trends in traffic but that they may not tell the whole story.”
As a result, the DfT is now looking to change its assumptions to incorporate “new and emerging trends”, carry out further research and continue to work with stakeholders.
In the meantime, the DfT’s latest road traffic forecasts - which still predict growth of between 19% to 55% between 2010 and 2040 - have at least employed “a scenario approach to attempt to capture more of the uncertainty”.
However the forecasts assume “ … no change in government policy beyond that already announced”. If the model fails to account for effective and properly funded policies and interventions to boost cycling and keeps predicting decline instead, decision-makers will assume that they have no grounds to invest in it and opt for new road building programmes instead.
How is this justice?
Based on an article on the CTC website
It is incomprehensible how a court could clear van driver Philip Sinden, 36, of the death of 18-year-old Daniel Squire, a cyclist he hit after sending and receiving 40 text messages at the wheel. The collision happened on a straight stretch of road in broad daylight, and forensic records imply that Sinden was most likely using his phone at the time. Despite this incriminating evidence, he was not convicted either of 'causing death by dangerous driving' or of 'causing death by careless driving'. Further details here .