Bike Biz: Support grows for ‘strict liability’ for cyclists in Scotland
by Jonathon Harker
Bike Station joins calls for a change to laws north of the border
Scotland’s largest bicycle recycling organisation, The Bike Station, is backing the campaign for strict liability on Scotland’s roads, as a means to promote and encourage cycle safety.
The Bike Station collects and refurbishes old bikes and has shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. The business said it has seen a massive increase in demand for bikes and Bike Station board member Ian Maxwell called for cycling to be made easier and safer.
He said: “Building a culture for cycling means instilling respect between all road users from the grass roots up and involves a combination of good training, good roads and the legal protection that strict liability brings.
“We are struggling to keep up with demand for low cost bikes from people of all ages and all walks of life and so it is important that their experience of cycling is as positive as possible. Feeling safe and reassured that everyone understands how to share the roads is a key part of that experience.”
Cycle Law Scotland is driving the campaign, which is backed by both cycling and motoring groups in Scotland, including CTC Scotland, SPOKES, Pedal on Parliament and RED driving school.
Campaigners for strict liability on Scotland’s roads say that changing civil law to establish a hierarchical structure to identify responsibility will to help create a cultural shift in driver behaviour and reduce collisions. A system of strict liability will also ensure that cyclists and other vulnerable road users involved in road traffic collisions are compensated fairly and quickly.
Cycle Law Scotland’s Brenda Mitchell said: “When you consider that two thirds of the adult population in Scotland holds a driver’s licence, the number of accidents involving cyclists is relatively small, but we should all remember that when a car does hit a bike, the cyclist will always come off worse.
“Introducing strict liability into civil law does not affect the principle of innocent until proven guilty that underpins criminal law, and rather than increase tensions between motorists and cyclists, I believe that it would actually usher in a greater sense of care and respect on the roads as motorists become more cautious towards cyclists and cyclists towards pedestrians.
“Cycling is fundamental to a healthy nation and energy sustainability. As more and more people take up cycling, strict liability offers cyclists fair and proper legal protection.”
As well as fixing bikes and offering maintenance advice through its shops and ‘Dr Bike’ stalls, Bike Station also carries out assessments on bikes for insurance purposes, following road traffic accidents.