Cycling personal injury claims: what are cyclists’ rights and when should they claim?

The ever-increasing popularity of cycling in the UK, both as a means of exercise and recreation, as well as a mode of transport, naturally means there are more bikes than ever on our roads.

In 2016, 1.9million people aged over 18 told the Government that they cycled every day, or nearly every day. A further 5.3million said they cycled at least once a week.

But does this mean there are more cycling-related accident on our roads? What rights do cyclists have as road users? And when can they make personal injury claims?

Cycling is safer than you might think…

One cyclist is killed on UK roads for every 30 million miles cycled (according to Cycle UK), which is safer than many would expect, and cycle lobby groups are keen to stress that cycling is safer than many people believe it to be. They also believe that the more people who take up cycling, the safer it becomes – as drivers become more aware of cyclists, and become more accustomed to encountering them on the road.

There is also the hope that, as participation levels increase, so too will investment in better infrastructure, though the public purse strings are very tight at the moment!

…but there are still too many injuries

Despite a reasonable safety record per mile cycled, there are still too many injuries to cyclists.

In 2016 there were 3,499 cyclists killed or seriously injured, of which 102 were killed. A further 14,978 were ‘slightly’ injured.

So what rights do cyclists have on our roads? More than you might think…

The road tax ‘debate’

Let’s nip this in the bud right away: there’s no such thing as road tax. Vehicle excise duty (VED) is calculated based on emissions, and some cars pay zero VED. The upkeep of the roads mainly comes from either local government funds, or central government funds for motorways, so it’s paid for by council tax and income tax.

This means cyclists over 18 are every bit as likely to contribute to the upkeep of roads as the average driver is. This means they are entitled to be there, and are entitled to be treated courteously and given space to cycle safely.

Cyclists are also entitled to be protected by personal injury law in the same way that everyone else is.

Cycle paths

This often frustrates drivers, but cyclists are not obliged to use cycle paths, even if they are available. Cycle paths are often poorly kept, or badly designed. They often require the cyclist to cross junctions in a way that is more dangerous than if they were cycling on the road. Waiting to pass a cyclist on a narrow road may add a couple of seconds to your journey, but it’s not going to make you any earlier or later to you destination.

Cycling double file

Again, frustrating for drivers, especially on country roads, but cyclists are permitted to cycle two abreast. Becoming frustrated at them isn’t going to help you, so wait till there’s a good time to pass safely, and carry on with your journey.

When can injured cyclists make personal injury claims?

Cyclists are protected by the law in the same way as any vulnerable road user, and injuries can occur regardless of how many safety precautions they may take. If a cyclist is injured because of the actions of a reckless driver, or sometimes because of a poor road surface, then they may be able to claim compensation.

Browell Smith & Co has many years’ experience of handling cases on behalf of injured cyclists, in claims of all kinds. Serious injuries such as broken bones, as well as serious head injuries or spinal trauma. Sadly in some cases, bike accidents can result in fatalities, and our lawyers deal with cycle injury claims in these cases too.


Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle, Cramlington, Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively by 0800 107 3000, to discuss your particular requirements.


Featured image: Calum McRoberts / Cyclist on Princes Street, published under Creative Commons licence.

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