For those of us out there who own a bicycle and go out regularly on them can testify, cycling is a joyous, liberating and cost effective mode of transport. We have a number of staff here at Stephensons who regularly cycle in and out to work, and I marvel at their effort and determination. I also consider them to be very brave, as cycling on British roads has become more dangerous than ever before, with 34 cyclists having been killed on the roads so far this year.
Official figures are due to be published in June, and it is feared by campaigners that these will show that the number of cyclists killed in Britain rose for the third consecutive year. For campaigners and cyclists, this is an unacceptable situation and one which must be addressed without delay.
Statistics show that heavy goods vehicles post a real threat to cyclists, a danger borne out by a recent local death, involving a cyclist, Daniel Hargreaves, 41 who was killed after a collision with a lorry in Huyton, Liverpool. A 63 year old driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.
There is considerable pressure on Ministers to introduce tougher penalties for motorists who kill cyclists in at attempt to deter dangerous driving and reverse a rise in the number of cyclists killed on the roads. Those campaigning for safer cycling in our cities and on our roads, which includes safety campaigners, cycling organisations, politicians and lawyers, are of the view that stricter penalties would act as a deterrent and save lives. There is a common belief amongst this group that our legal system has a poor record of dealing with serious collisions involving cyclists.
But it’s not just about harsher sentencing. There has to be other changes too. Cycling “blackspots” have to be looked at and improved upon, notoriously dangerous junctions need to be improved, heavy goods vehicles should be required by law to fit extra mirrors and devices to get around their “blind spots”, and people need to be more aware of the vulnerability of the cyclist on our roads.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney