Driver fury over Euro cycle laws



Driver fury over Euro cycle laws

Motorists face soaring premiums for bike crashes

Cyclists v motorists: talk about it here or email us at [email protected]

Joanna Walters, transport editor
Sunday August 4, 2002
The Observer

A furious row is set to erupt between Britain and Europe over proposed legislation to make car drivers responsible for all accidents involving cyclists - even when the bike rider has broken the law and is in the wrong.
To the delight of cyclists and the dismay of drivers, a European law is being planned to force motorists to pay compensation and damages in all accidents with cyclists. The measure will put car insurance premiums up by an average £50.

The move prompted a furious response last night from motoring and insurance organisations, which claimed it would encourage 'bicycle guerrillas' who do not obey the Highway Code and frequently shoot red lights.

The proposed law, supposedly designed to harmonise car insurance terms across Europe, contains measures to crack down on drivers in Britain, where officials believe legislation is biased in favour of motorists.

The European Commission document says: 'Motor vehicles cause most accidents. Whoever is responsible, pedestrians and cyclists usually suffer more. In some member states the cyclist is covered by the insurance of the vehicle involved in the accident irrespective of whether the driver is at fault.'

The British Government is expected to oppose the move, arguing that Britain should be allowed to opt out of the legislation provoking a battle between Britain and European officials, who want it to be imposed Europe-wide.

Insurers and motoring groups have vowed to fight 'tooth and nail' to prevent the law being imposed on Britain.

'Drivers are going to have to pay higher premiums to compensate cyclists for their own mistakes,' said Kevin Delaney of the RAC.

'Many cyclists behave as if there were no legal constraints upon them - ignoring traffic lights, signs, one-way streets and pedestrian crossings, travelling as fast as possible with no lights or bell: they are bicycle guerrillas.'

The pro-cycling lobby says the law would 'redress the balance' against 'the most vulnerable road user'. Supporters want motorists to be criminally liable for any acci dent involving a cyclist or pedestrian.

Refusing to condemn cyclists who break the law and are to blame for some accidents, Kevin Mayne, director of national cycling body CTC, said the numbers of aggressive cyclists breaking the law and harassing drivers were hugely exaggerated.

The law could lead to a tougher criminal process for drivers who injure or kill cyclists, he said. 'It's not the person sitting in their steel box who gets killed by the cyclist.'

The proposals have been drawn up by from the Internal Market Directorate of the European Commission and will be debated by the European Parliament in the autumn. If Britain opposes the plan, it would be imposed here with majority support from other EU countries.

European officials believe the move will make the roads safer and encourage more people to get on their bikes.

In Britain, drivers are presumed innocent and not liable for compensation unless the cyclist can prove negligence. But in France, Belgium, Scandinavia, Holland and Germany, drivers are almost always liable and must pay compensation from their insurance policies.

Cycling in Britain now accounts for less than 2 per cent of all journeys undertaken each year, compared with 80 per cent of journeys by car. Britons made an average of 16 trips per person by bike last year, compared with 21 in 1991.

The RAC claimed insurance premiums could jump by 10 per cent, adding about £50 to the price of the average comprehensive motor policy.

Mayne said: 'We expect a ferocious fight from the motor and insurance industries.'

I got this bit out of the Guardian.

"Motor vehicles cause most accidents. Whoever is responsible, pedestrians and cyclists usually suffer more. In some member states the cyclist is covered by the insurance of the vehicle involved in the accident irrespective of whether the driver is at fault."

It is referring to France, Belgium, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany where the motorist is almost always liable for damages or compensation regardless of who caused the accident. Brussels wants the rest of the EU to adopt that system within two to three years.

Sounds good to me. Couldn't imagine Australia having the foresight to pursue a similar line. The money would get poured into developing the reasons for why it would never work. 8) 8)
**** ! first day back in work today and what a day.

I've been several heated arguments today over this subject,being the only cyclist in work made me an easy target for people to vent their feelings, (unfortunately for them I don't put up with fools gladly).

I pointed out to them that so long as the did nothing wrong then they would have nothing to worry about, but I also pointed out that if they did do something wrong then they would probably end up with a scratched car and higher insurance premiums, whilst a cyclist would be severly injured. This didn't seem to go down very well.

They mentioned the higher premiums and I said that whilst nobody is sure that it would be an increase as stated, if they drove with more consideration around cyclists then the accident rate would fall and also the premiums.

There were several other topics of discussion(shouting) but you cannot change somebody's mind if their mind is closed, so mostly I left them there.

Round two tomorrow.
For some people nothing will ever change. For others it's a case of "in the land of the brain dead the half wit is king".

For Governments it's a football ... just kick it around. 8) 8)
sounds good to me. It would make drivers more aware so they would look for objects smaller than cars :mad:.
What people tend to forget, here, is that it's actually very easy for a driver who is actually following the road rules to prove their innocence in such a situation. After all, things like speed limits, red lights, allowing enough space for cyclists and so on are actually stated in very black and white terms in the legislation.
Thanks for posting that article - very interesting - just what we need here in Australia.

We've recently had a number of hit and run pedestrian fatalities in Melbourne also.

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