A cyclist whose wrist and elbow were fractured when he was thrown from his bike after its front wheel became lodged in a metal strip on a bridge has been awarded £100,000 in damages by a court in Scotland.
According to STV News, the decision of Edinburgh’s Court of Session – Scotland’s highest civil court – may lead to the settlement of claims brought against Scottish Borders Council by two other cyclists injured in similar circumstances at the same location.
David Robinson, aged 52, was thrown over the handlebars of his bike after his front wheel became lodged in the metal groove on the bridge crossing Biggar Water, near Broughton, during a group ride with fellow members of Edinburgh Cycling Club on 1 December 2013.
The council had denied liability but Scottish Legal News reports that Lady Wolffe, delivering judgment in a written opinion, found them at fault.
She said: “There was ample evidence about the physical state of the metal strips and the road surface where they were embedded. I also accept the unchallenged evidence of the particular risk the larger metal strip posed to two-wheeled road users by reason of its longitudinal alignment along the direction of travel.
“On the evidence, these features could pose a hazard in a variety of ways. The nature of the material and the longitudinal position of the strips posed a risk of a destabilising slip to two-wheeled vehicles. The gap between the two strips had the potential to catch or trap a bike wheel if it was sufficiently thin, and approached these at a similar angle.
“In short, I accept that the metal strips posed a hazard to road users by reason of these features I have described. It matters not, in my view, that the pursuer [Mr Robinson] is unable to say precisely which of these features caused him to lose control of his bike in the way he described. I reject the defenders’ criticism of this aspect of the pursuer’s evidence.”
Lady Wolffe added: “There is no foundation in the evidence to suggest that the pursuer should have seen the metal strips, or appreciate the hazard it posed, before he did. By then, it was too late. There was no suggestion or evidence that he was riding inappropriately in either speed or manner, having regard to the weather and road conditions.
“Accordingly, I find that the pursuer was travelling with due skill and care. It follows that I find that the state of the road surface at the bridge, and in particular the presence and position of the metal strips, posed a hazard in the relevant sense.”
“On the whole evidence, I find that the hazard posed by the road at this point, as described above, would have been apparent to a roads authority of ordinary competence using reasonable care.”
Mr Robinson was represented by Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland, who has also been at the forefront of a campaign to have presumed liability in road traffic incidents introduced under Scots law.
She said: "It is extremely disappointing that Scottish Borders Council never applied their minds to what constitutes a hazard for cyclists on its roads.
"More and more people are being encouraged to cycle and the Borders and the Tweed Valley actively market the region as a cycling destination.
"This particular hazard has been fixed and I hope that the case has highlighted how the local roads authority can play its part in making the area safer for everyone," Ms Mitchell added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.