Bike Week 2020: Are UK Roads Safe for Cyclists?
This week is Bike Week, a national effort to promote the health benefits of cycling. As the UK aims to get back to work, more and more of us will be turning to cycling instead of public transport.
But according to Government figures, safety concerns are stopping many people from getting on bikes, with 77% saying cycling safety and infrastructure in towns and cities must improve before they start cycling.
Our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors regularly see the effects of devastating cycling accidents, both on the victims and their loved ones. So we hope recent Government pledges to improve cycling facilities mark a sea change in safety on our roads. Below we explain steps you can take to stay safe while cycling, which could be vitally important if you’re injured in a cycling accident that’s not your fault.
Don’t Buy a Cheap Bike
We all love a bargain, but you get what you pay for, and that’s particularly true with private transport. A cheap bike won’t last if you’re using it to commute to and from work every day, so you may be increasing your chances of being in an accident if you buy a cheap bicycle.
See the Bike Before Buying It
You probably wouldn’t buy a car without seeing it in person and taking it for a test drive. So you should apply the same logic to buying a bike. Go to a specialist retailer if possible, and if it’s safe to do so, so they can help you buy a bike that fits you, and you can be protected by their warranty and insurance policies.
Maintain Your Bike
The chances of being involved in a cycling accident can be reduced if your bike is in top condition, with working brakes, chains, gears and a suitable tyre pressure.
Of course, these measures can’t completely take away the risk of an accident, and it’s commonplace for cyclists to be injured in an accident that wasn’t their fault. If that’s the case, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
In any cycling accident claim that our No Win, No Fee Solicitors deal with, we carry out a thorough investigation to establish exactly what’s happened. But if there’s a dispute with the other person or party over liability (fault), it can help if you can demonstrate you were taking all the safety measures appropriate for the road conditions at the time of the accident.
In some cycling accident cases, claimants have had to settle for a lower amount of compensation because the other party has argued that they were only partly rather than wholly responsible for what happened. So the more evidence you can provide to support your case the better.
Use a Helmet Cam
Helmet cams can capture valuable evidence which can back up your version of what happened.
What’s Being Done to Improve Cycle Safety?
Last month, the Government confirmed £250 million is being put into an active travel fund, to pay for measures including new cycle tracks and wider pavements. This forms part of a wider £2 billion plan to make it easier and safer for people to cycle and walk, rather than pile on public transport at a time when it looks as if social distancing measures will become the new norm.
While cycling is a very popular activity, it’s not embedded in British culture in the same way it is in other nations. Indeed, official figures show that in 2016, just 2% of all journeys in the UK were made by bike, compared with 27% in the Netherlands.
But the coronavirus pandemic is having a big effect on people’s attitudes to travel. For example, a recent survey by Ipsos Mori shows that 61% of Britons aren’t comfortable about travelling by public transport when lockdown is lifted.
At the same time, major cycling retailers have seen sales of bikes and cycling equipment shoot up in recent weeks.
As a raft of inexperienced cyclists take to the roads, the potential for cycling-related accidents increases. We hope that with this investment in improved cycling infrastructure comes greater education on cycle safety, to reduce the chances of devastating cycling accidents happening on our roads.
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.