Will upgrading a city cycle route cause more accidents?
The popularity of cycling in the UK increases every year. This is the case regarding both competitive cycling and the use of a bicycle for commuting. In Manchester, this has prompted the Council to upgrade a large stretch of its cycle route.
The route goes down Wilmslow Road through Withington and Fallowfield. It is one of the busiest cycle corridors in Manchester, used by over 1000 people every day. Users include both business commuters and students heading from their accommodation into the city centre.
New safety measure designed to separate vehicles from cyclists.
Critics are concerned that if done incorrectly, this could put users at risk. There are also concerns about plans to route cyclists around the back of a bus stop. A plan to create a shared space in Withington has been called into question as well.
Jamie Patton is the head of Personal Injury at Birchall Blackburn Law. He is a keen cyclist who uses this route on his daily commute. He said:
“I wholeheartedly agree that road and cycle lane improvements are long overdue. I am however concerned that a series of ill-thought out raised kerbs to separate cyclists from traffic could be bad for both cyclists and motorists alike.
In Fallowfield, cyclists are already separated from traffic by a metal railing. But this sends cyclists into a stretch of path used by pedestrians, who may unwittingly stray into the path of a bicycle travelling at up to 20 miles per hour.
Re-routing cycle lanes around the back of a bus stop effectively creates a bus-stop island. If the island is not big enough, people queueing for the bus will stand in the cycle lane to avoid missing their bus.
I am also intrigued to see how the council proposes to implement the creation of a shared space in Withington. This is a very narrow section of busy road with an equally narrow section of pathway. I hope that the creation of a shared space won’t put anybody at risk of harm.”
The improvements are part of the Greater Manchester Cycle City Programme. The aim is to increase the number of journeys made by bicycle in the region by creating better cycle routes. But Jamie has legal concerns as well. He said:
“Cyclists are not obliged to use cycle routes and may prefer to use the road. If they choose to do so, I am concerned that they may be seen to be partly at fault should they be in an accident whilst lawfully travelling along that stretch of road. It’s not uncommon for motorists to allege a cyclists actions in some way contributed to an accident. This is called contributory negligence and could reduce the level of damages they may receive if they were in an accident if a court agrees with the Defendants assertions.
There is also the question of insurance. Bicycle insurance is not compulsory. If a cyclist isn’t insured and knocks a pedestrian over, that person may have no recourse if the cyclist is a ‘man of straw.’ The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) which compensates victims of road traffic accidents where there is no insurance in place does not compensate victims unless there has been the involvement of a motorised vehicle. Perhaps, with the increase in cycling as a means to travel to and from work, this is something the Government should re-visit.”
When an accident does occur, it is traumatic for the victim and their family. There can also be cost implications and inconvenience even if only minor injury is caused.
If you have been the victim of a road traffic accident, you may have the right to make a claim for damages. To talk to one of our knowledgeable Personal Injury team, contact us on 0800 614 722 or 0333 321 2132 from a mobile.