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Edinburgh cyclists call for better infrastructure and presumed liability law

Survey coincided with June's Edinburgh Festival of Cycling in Scottish capital...

Cyclists in Edinburgh want to see more off-road or separated cycle routes and restrictions on the number of cars entering the centre of the Scottish capital, according to a new survey.

The poll, commissioned by Allan McDougall Solicitors as part of its sponsorship of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, which ran from June 10-18 this year, also saw strong support for tram lines being made safer for people on bikes.

> Cyclists sue over Edinburgh tram track crashes – two lead cases head to court… in 2019

The law firm said that when asked what could be done to make the city’s streets safer for them, cyclists called for changes including:

1. More dedicated, car-free or segregated cycle ways that are connected with each other.

2. Fewer cars allowed on roads in city centres.

3. Checks that installations such as tramlines are safe for cyclists.

4. Penalties for drivers using cycle lanes for driving, stopping and parking.

5. Cleaning and repainting of existing cycle lanes.

6. 20mph default speed limit for all urban areas.

7. Investigation of other cities with better infrastructure.

8. Review of the national transport strategy and budget, with more to be spent on walking and cycling facilities.

9. Road repairs.

10. Removal of setts and speed bumps.

Respondents were also asked about what they did in the event of being involved in a road traffic collision while riding their bike, with many admitting they were deterred from pursuing a claim because of perceived hassle, not knowing how to go about it, and problems in establishing where fault lies.

There was support for the introduction of presumed liability which in civil cases attributes liability to the less vulnerable road user (so, a motorist if a cyclist is injured, or a cyclist if it is a pedestrian who has been hurt) unless it can be shown the injured party was responsible, whether in whole or in part.

The UK is one of just five European Union Member States not to have such a system, the others being the Republic of Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Romania.

Julie Harris, head of the personal injury team at Allan McDougall Solicitors, 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,” she added.

“Often it takes someone to pursue a claim for remedial action to be taken to the benefit of all.”

Edinburgh Festival of Cycling founder and director, Kim Harding, commented: “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!”

Simon joined 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.

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