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Scottish NCN 7 / NCN 75 cycling collision Court Verdict

There was an excellent piece (and especially the comments thread) on the site here:

“Speeding” cyclists equally to blame for serious collision on bike path, judge rules

According to the judge, both cyclists “completely failed, for no good reason, to take the steps necessary to observe the presence of the other until the collision was inevitable”

Having read the 40 page verdict, I think some aspects of it are questionable. I'm putting my opinion here, because on the comments thread it will vanish as thoroughly as the Loch Ness Monster, and I think further comment from others will be helpful.

The Judgement is at this link:

My commentary is below.
I read it all (40 pages), and TBH I think the judge and the expert witnesses were indulging in a certain amount of baloney. But the takeaways seem clear to me:

1 - Have third party liability and legal representative insurance, and probably harm-based personal accident insurance. I get the former via CUK membership and household insurance. I get the latter via my Health Cashplan with HSF as a 'bonus', which cost is more than covered just by the dental and optical benefits, but it may come with a pensions scheme or other membership.
2 - Seriously consider running 1 or 2 cameras for self-protection.
3 - Defend vigorously when respondent. This case was 5 years from incident to verdict, by the person injured most (had heart stoppage) and there was no counterclaim, and quite limited evidence.
4 - Both sides had specialist lawyers afaics, and the claimant (afaics) had 2 'expert witnesses', including John "Vehicular Cycling" Franklin. You may need a lawyer or an expert. IMO these experts could have been undermined.


5 - Expert referenced a general "design speed" of 18mph (ie 30kph) which was accepted by the Court. In current standards, that is an LTN 1./20 concept; Scottish guidance has 20, 30 or 4-kph depending on context. No mention was made that like roads this is an 85% number, not a limit.
6 - In fact these are old tracks afaics, and the quoted width of 2.4m is 8ft, which is a 1960s or 1970s standard, not 2021. I doubt whether "design speed" applied to these paths.
7 - The Court accepted that 'there is no priority at this junction; these are just paths.' In fact it is NCN 75 coming slightly downhill into NCN7 at right angles, via a triangular Y split of the path. That sounds like priority to me, explicit and implicit.
8 - No mention of visibility splays, a concept which contemporary standards in England and Scotland apply to cycle infra, via reference to Manual for Streets.
9 - No mention of responsibility for overgrown greenery and maintenance making it unsafe.
10 - We only have firm speed data (Strava) for the respondent on NCN7, not the claimant who afaics was coming down NCN75 in an admitted hunch position, a route he took regularly.

What they got right

10 I think the decision that both were going too fast to stop is fair, but the stuff making assumptions about design speeds and so on is not tenable imo. The analysis surrounding that is afaics dodgy.

My view

11 IMO the claimant who was the more seriously injured party, and has not cycled to work since, was looking to recover some of his costs (fair enough - even only getting half means he gets a benefit), but again imo the lack of vigour from the respondent means he was rather hung out to dry.
12 My view is that the responsibility should have been more 75 claimant:25 respondent rather than 50:50.
13 I should say that I have become skeptical of the whole Scottish police / prosecution / justice system over the last 20 years. For example their failure to do Operation SNAP is a shitshow.

Those are my thoughts.

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago

There is more dubious in my mind about the persuers account than the respondant.

The lesson seems to be delete your strava logs if you suspect they might be self incriminating.

Iffy result imo, but then I have a massive problem with type of compo culture.

Flâneur replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago

I would agree. The pursuer's aerobars ending up tilted massively upwards seem a red flag to me.

And agree on Strava. It put the defender at a massive disadvantage, I've said my piece on the pursuer's lack of recorded speed data below

And I'm saying all that as someone who regularly commutes on a bike with aerobars fitted

Flâneur | 1 month ago
1 like

Good summary mattw

IMO it's not really clear if the court accepted anything on 'design speeds' - what seemed to carry most weight was John Franklin's (in my view bizarre) assertion that the maximum safe speed through the junction for the defender was 10mph and 7mph for the pursuer, leading to the headlines that "both were riding at double the safe speed" (which to be fair, appears to have been the judge's final view)

I don't think the defender was particularly well served (no expert witness or rebuttal of the frankly bizarre and selfserving speed experiments of the pursuer) but that may be down to their apparent lack of proactivity as you mention. Also no counterclaim despite a broken collarbone and broken ribs, and a trashed carbon bike.

Other oddities:

Someone interested enough in speed/efficiency to fit aerobars but having no way to measure or record speed - possible I suppose but perhaps unusual

A lot made of wheels staying unbuckled - possibly something can be inferred but often to me it seems a coin toss

As you mention, a lot made of 'there is no priority at this junction; these are just paths.' but then submissions, especially by the pursuer, that they were "established on NCN7" by the time of the collision - that to me seems like tacit acceptance that it was a junction (with priority?)

mattw replied to Flâneur | 1 month ago

Cheers for the response.

I put it here in the hope of being able to find it again, since Roadcc comments are, like the Facebook comment I wrote it for in my local Cycling FB group, a total memory hole and I'll be able to find ths via Google where Roadcc does well.

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