The challenges faced by cyclists

Very recently a cycling accident came before the courts in Central London County Court.

A 70 year old cyclist, who suffered some cognitive brain deficit, was successful at trial in establishing breach of duty of care against the owner of a dog who ran across his path on Acton Green Common in London. Mr Crane who claimed he had been cycling around London for more than 40 years without mishap; on this occasion he was riding no more than 5 mph when, without warning, the dog came across his path causing him to lose balance and fall over his handle bars. The head injury impact caused a brain haemorrhage which led to memory impairment and other cognitive deficits. Mr Crane can no longer ride his bike and now walks his friends’ dogs (he is himself a dog lover) for his own exercise.

It was claimed that Mr Crane was riding too fast. The response to this allegation was that weighing 18 stone at the time he was incapable of riding fast. The owner of the dog called Felix also claimed that Mr Crane had his head down at the time too and that she tried to warn him of the fact that Felix was chasing a bull and running across his path. The dog was struck by the front wheel of the bike causing Mr. Crane to lose balance and fall off.

Damages will be assessed at a separate hearing but it is interesting that this follows another case a few years ago when a man aged 59 was awarded £65,000 after he suffered life changing injuries when an “out of control” dog lead became caught in the spokes of his bicycle. In 2016 a judge in Tayside ruled that a dog owner was 70% responsible for the dog colliding with the cyclist’s front wheel with the cyclist on that occasion being 30% responsible for riding too fast.

Cycling Since Lockdown

Cycling since lockdown has grown dramatically due to the restrictions on other exercises. In turn, pet ownership has also grown since lockdown due to people having more free time for pets. The increase in numbers for both cycle ownership and dog ownership will have an increase in accidents involving the two. This means that cyclists are more at risk than ever.

There are likely to be a lot more similar cases, bearing in mind there is in reality limited space for this kind of growth of dog and bike population on our crowded island.

Furthermore, another unintended but nonetheless welcome product of Covid-19 seems to have been the realisation that walking and cycling more is good for us, in fact the realisation appears to be that it is more than just good; it’s necessary!

There are more hazards now on our pavements and on our roads than ever before. Electric bikes, Segway bikes, mobility scooters to name but a few. (Yes, believe it or not I have a client who was hit by one of those on the pavement and suffered serious injury)

Simply because there may not be an obvious road traffic insurer in such cases to proceed against, as long as there is an identifiable third party (whether it’s a dog walker or a pedestrian) who has breached their own duty of care to other road users there is liability that can be attached to this breach.

In some cases the enforcement of any damages award made will of course not always be straight forward, but usually there will be a way.

We live in a more complex world but whether you are a cyclist, pedestrian or any other type of road user you are entitled to expect that the same standard of care applies to you in every case.

If you have been involved in an accident, we invite you to contact us by calling 0800 093 6313 or submit an enquiry form and we will be in touch shortly to arrange your free initial consultation at a time most convenient to you. We are able to facilitate video consultations to ensure we deliver our services safely.

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