Recent tragic cycle incidents push campaign into the spotlight

‘Presume liability’ for cyclists gains cross-party support in Scotland

The campaign to bring Scottish road laws in line with most of Europe has been gathering support from SNP, Lib Dem, Green and Independent MSPs as well as public figures such as Nick Nairn, Lesley Riddoch and Cameron McNeish.

The proposal would see the introduction of a regime in Civil Law where a driver involved in a collision with a cyclist would have to prove that they were not at fault. Under such a regime, all vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, would be protected. The online petition has seen over 1,100 signatures.

Recent tragic collisions have moved the campaign back into the spotlight. Nine cyclists have died in Scotland this year, the latest taking place this week when a female cyclist was killed after a collision with a car in Glen Urquhart near Drumnadrochit. 

The campaign is working towards seeing a Members Bill presented to the Scottish parliament later this year.

However, it appears the battle lines have already been drawn – the Scottish government’s updated Cycling Action Plan for Scotland has dismissed calls for ‘strict liability’ in Scotland, arguing there is not enough robust evidence of a direct link between such laws and cycle levels and safety, according to The Times.

Scotland’s Transport Minister Keith Brown added that Scotland has twice the level of funding per capita than England. 

Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland (CLS), a specialist law firm representing the interests of cyclists and the founder of the campaign for stricter liability Road Share, said: "Enough is enough. How many more people have to suffer before something’s done to protect cyclists? The recent terrifying trend in cycle collisions proves something must be done to improve safety for all road users and quickly. We cannot and must not sit by and let this continue without fundamentally changing the mindset of all road users to respect the need to share the road space.

“I am calling for increased support for the introduction of stricter liability which would change the Civil Law whereby motorists involved in collisions are at fault unless they can prove otherwise. This would in turn force all road users to increase their consideration for others and therefore potentially reducing the number of tragic incidents.

“This law has already significantly improved the culture and reduced the number of people injured or killed for our European neighbours. It’s about time we joined them.

“The more people who sign our petition the more pressure we can put on government to change the law to protect vulnerable road users.”

CLS is also keen to see further protection made available to the elderly, disabled and young road users, as is the case in most European Countries where strict liability regimes exist. In these countries, those who are disabled, under the age of 14 and over 70 are afforded further protection in Civil Law to such an extent that in a collision with a motorised vehicle it is the motorist who is deemed to be at fault.

You can add your name to the petition here.

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