Global evidence shows restricting car use in built-up areas makes them safer, more pleasant places to live, work and socialise
To prevent or reduce cycling accidents, infrastructure needs to be improved by local and national Government, according to cyclists surveyed by Allan McDougall Solicitors, which has acted for numerous cyclists injured in the city over the last few years.
As part of its sponsorship of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling 2017, the firm researched the views of cycling enthusiasts on what more could be done to prevent cycling accidents. They called for a host of infrastructure improvements, including:
More dedicated, car-free or segregated cycle ways that are connected with each other.
Fewer cars allowed on roads in city centres.
Checks that installations such as tramlines are safe for cyclists.
Penalties for drivers using cycle lanes for driving, stopping and parking.
Cleaning and repainting of existing cycle lanes.
20mph default speed limit for all urban areas.
Investigation of other cities with better infrastructure.
Review of the national transport strategy and budget, with more to be spent on walking and cycling facilities.
Removal of setts and speed bumps.
Respondents also suggested the provision of better training for both vehicle drivers and cyclists, including more cycle awareness training and testing for drivers in DVSA driving tests, as well as improved behaviour and awareness by both parties.
As well as asking about preventative measures, Allan McDougall Solicitors asked how cyclists followed up any accidents they do have, with many admitting that cyclists are put off pursuing a claim for compensation because they view their accident or injury as not serious enough.
Other factors that may put them off were the perception of hassle involved, lack of knowledge on how to make a claim and difficulty in proving who was at fault. It was therefore suggested that the Continental European system, where fault lies with the driver unless proven otherwise, be introduced into the UK.
Julie Harris, Head of Allan McDougall Solicitors’ Personal Injury team, said: “We very much favour the introduction of a system of ‘presumed liability’, so that in the event of a road accident involving a cyclist, the vehicle driver is automatically at fault.
“Cyclist safety should also be of paramount consideration when infrastructure is designed. As the greenest way to travel, every effort should be made by local and national government to make it the safest way too. As many of us are both cyclists and drivers as well as pedestrians, an integrated approach would be the best way to build awareness and change behaviours.
“By pursuing a legal case, an injured cyclist is not just acting in their own interests, but in the interests of the whole cycling fraternity. Often it takes someone to pursue a claim for remedial action to be taken to the benefit of all.”
Kim Harding, Founder and Director of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, added: “Evidence from around the world has shown that restricting car use in built up areas makes them safer, more pleasant places to live, work and socialise. More walking and cycling is good for health, communities and the local economies: win, win, win!”