Loughborough & District
Cycle Users' Campaign

Pedal Power
Issue 126
January 2017


Threat to Compensation for Injured Cyclists

Based on an article from Cycling UK

Pandering to the insurance industry lobbyists, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a consultation supposedly on reforms to whiplash claims. However, these reforms are more likely to affect people riding bikes or walking when injured.The very road users who, ironically, rarely if ever suffer or claim compensation for whiplash and have a strong case for compensation.

The proposal is to increase the small claims limit for personal injury compensation claims from £1000 to £5000. That would prevent anyone recovering their legal and other costs, such as medical reports, for claims falling below the £5000 threshold. Cycling UK has identified that this would affect 70% of cyclists' compensation claims, which typically include claims for broken collarbones, wrists and ankles.

Compensation claims for moderate but non-life-changing injuries to cyclists and pedestrians are seldom simple and straightforward. The claimant might be a child or elderly person who needs legal help to present their claim. Young, old or in-between, they deserve full compensation put in a situation where they might recover £4000 and pay out £3500 in costs.

A fivefold increase in the small claims limit amounts to a real term cut in compensation for vulnerable road users. If fraudulent claims are being made these need to be identified and the perpetrators prosecuted. Removing the ability to obtain justifiable compensation in order to remove the possibility of fraud is perverse (although it no doubt makes sound financial sense for car insurers).

Cycling and walking are enjoyable, healthy and safe activities with huge personal and societal benefits. When such active travellers are injured by a motor vehicle, they shouldn't be prevented from pursuing a claim for rightful compensation because the costs would eat up the damages.

Cycling UK has joined with RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, and Living Streets, the national charity for everyday walking, in asking the Justice Secretary to show that she values victims more than she fears the voice of the insurance industry, and drop this proposal.

Compulsory hi-vis out of the question

Lord Laird got a very firm response when he asked whether the Government had “… considered making mandatory the wearing by under-19 year olds of high-visibility clothing while cycling or walking on the roads network after dark.”

To that, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon replied: "The safety of vulnerable road users is a priority and we recommend that pedestrians and cyclists wear clothing that makes them sufficiently visible to other road users, especially in poor light and at night. However, wearing high visibility clothing is a matter of individual choice. Imposing additional regulations could lead to people choosing not to walk or cycle and would be difficult to enforce.”

Turning the Corner

British Cycling has joined forces with the AA and other cycling and pedestrian groups to advocate for consolidating and strengthening the existing rules in the Highway Code so that, whether you are driving or cycling, you would be clearly obliged to give way, when turning, to people who are going straight ahead.

The ‘Turning the Corner’ campaign, being led by Chris Boardman, calls for junctions that are simpler and safer for everyone since these are where around three-quarters of collisions involving cyclists happen. Based on research into continental best practice, the campaign proposes that:

  • Drivers turning at a junction give way to people cycling and walking who may be on their nearside, or crossing the road they wish to turn into (unless traffic signs or signals indicate otherwise);
  • Cyclists turning at a junction would similarly give way to people walking across the road they wish to turn into;
  • Pedestrians are given increased protection when crossing a side road or other junction.
The changes would make it much easier to introduce physically separated cycle tracks alongside busier main roads without compromising cyclists' safety and priority at side-roads or signaled junctions..

The research suggests that implementing the new rule could create an estimated 15% to 40% increase in signaled junction efficiency, reduce congestion and improve air quality, while also potentially improving safety levels to those seen on Dutch roads, where the risk of being killed while walking is 34% lower and the risk when cycling is halved, compared to in the UK.

The change to the Highway Code would not require lengthy or complex legislation. The amendment would simply need to be agreed by the Department for Transport as part of an expected update of the Highway Code before being ‘laid’ before Parliament. Read more here.

Texting drivers must be targeted

Based on an article from Cycling UK

The leading motoring and cycling charities, the AA and Cycling UK, have joined forces to impress on the Government the need to close an ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole exploited by many of the 8,600 motorists still driving with 12 points on their licence this year.

Drivers should not be able to avoid a ban save in truly extraordinary circumstances, not just because a ban would cause inconvenience or predictable hardship. As well as removing this ‘get out of jail free’ clause, driving disqualifications must also be made the norm for new drivers and repeat offenders to end avoidable deaths and serious injuries on our roads. As it stands both of these opportunities to make roads safer will fall outside of the long awaited MoJ’s motoring offences and sentencing review.

While applauding media initiatives against mobile phone use in cars, and the Government’s policy plans to increase penalty points for mobile use, the organisations point out that increased points will do no good if drivers with 12 points still remain on the roads.

Cycling UK's Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer, Duncan Dollimore, said of the campaign: “Now is the time to make distracted driving, like texting and driving, as taboo as not wearing a seatbelt or drink-driving. We must tackle this problem head-on because it led to 22 deaths and 440 crashes last year."

AA President Edmund King said: “The devastating consequences of distracted driving are vividly portrayed in our latest campaign film, Cadence, which we released last week. Hopefully, our collective efforts to effect behaviour change, together with the Government’s recent announcement intending to increase penalties for mobile phone use while driving, will help to make this mobile madness socially unacceptable."

Cyclist Lee Martin was killed last year by texting driver Christopher Gard. The tragic incident took place just six weeks after Gard had dodged a ban and kept his licence, because of the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole, despite having six previous convictions for driving while using a mobile phone.

The DfT has announced that it is to:

  • Raise the fixed penalty points issued under a fixed penalty notice for using hand-held mobiles while driving from 3 to 6 for all drivers;
  • Raise the fixed penalty notice fine from £100 to £200 for all motor vehicles;
  • Remove the option of drivers attending a re-training course in lieu of prosecution.
Imposing bigger fines and more endorsements, however, will be merely cosmetic if drivers like Gard aren't actually banned once they’ve totted up enough points.

Cycling and Type 2 Diabetes risk

Dr Adrian Davis has produced a paper suggesting that it is beneficial to encourage middle and old age adults to engage in commuter and recreational cycling to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in later adulthood.

Habitual cycling has, in studies of adults, been associated with a lower incidence of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease, less weight gain, and lower death from all causes. It may be particularly valuable for T2D prevention, since a large body of evidence shows that regular engagement in physical activity and lifestyle intervention incorporating physical activity substantially decreases T2D risk.

A new study was undertaken to investigate whether cycling specifically is valuable in the prevention of T2D. Researchers drew on a Danish population with widespread engagement in regular cycling and found that habitual cycling was related to a lower risk of T2D than no cycling, and that a longer duration of weekly cycling seemed to be preferable to less weekly cycling.

The researchers also found that those who took up habitual cycling in middle to old age had a 20% lower risk of T2D compared to those who remained non-cyclists. Consequently, habitual cycling in the general population may have the potential to promote public health by reducing the risk of chronic diseases, such as T2D.

The research results also provide evidence that late-in-life initiation of or continued engagement in cycling lowers the risk of T2D. When combining the findings with previous studies that have shown it is possible to increase cycling through promotional activities and infrastructural changes, it can be suggested that national and local governments should prioritise resources to promote cycling.

More misguided, misplaced and moronic marvels

Crapper Cycle Lanes is a humorous guide to some of the worst cycle lanes in Britain.

Councils around the land are investing your tax money to provide schemes to make cycling an easy and safe choice, as Britain grows in its awareness of its carbon footprint. Crapper Cycle Lanes exposes some of those schemes from the viewpoint of the people who pedal the roads. The practicality, difficulty and danger levels are rated, and a sentence is recommended for the offending council, ranging from a caution, through to an Asbo or for the worst cases, regime change.

Warrington Campaign have followed up their first book “Crap Cycle Lanes – 50 worst cycle lanes in Britain” with this new title which can be obtained from www.warringtoncyclecampaign.co.uk.

Cycle Hub at Nottingham Station

The East Midlands Trains Cycle Hub on the south, i.e. Queen’s Road, side of Nottingham Station has been poorly planned and promoted, according to Nottingham Pedals, with very poor signing of the new facility. Access requires a fob (£10 fee). We understand that a fob for the Loughborough facility will also work at Nottingham.

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