Thursday, 7 March 2013

A new age for cycling, or a false dawn?

Later today Boris Johnson will be announcing "The Mayor's Vision for Cycling in London". Exactly what this will involve is not clear, but the key points seem to be:

  • A Crossrail for bikes from Canary Wharf to White City
  • A grid of “safe” cycle routes in central London
  • A re-think of TFL’s policy on dangerous junctions
  • A series of mini-Hollands in some outer London boroughs
  • A network of Quietways, to upgrade existing cycle routes

So far so good but, as with so much in life, the devil is in the detail. One thing that immediately springs to mind is how they are going to deal safely with junctions on the new safe cycling routes. Critics of segregated cycle lanes rightly cite this as a major issue and if this is not tackled head on it could create significant problems between cars crossing the cycle paths. You only need to look at the horrible cycle ways in Bloomsbury to see how segregated cycle lanes can be dangerous and undesirable.

Another consideration is that infrastructure and safety must be improved on all roads – not just the designated cycle safe routes. Some drivers are sure to feel that cyclist have “their routes” and all other roads are meant for cars. If we are to normalise cycling, as the Mayor has indicated he would like, then cycling must be integrated rather than segregated.

So, amongst the hope, there is also a lot of questions that need to be addressed. Andrew Gilligan, appointed by Boris Johnson as the cycling commissioner for London, acknowledged that the changes will not turn London into Amsterdam any time soon, and there is still a long way to go. I remain cautiously optimistic, but cycling has seen many false dawns in this country and I hope this is not another.

You will be able to read full details of the Mayor's vision for London on Andrew Gilligan’s blog shortly:


Monday, 4 March 2013

Injured cyclists should act now

As I have mentioned before, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has introduced a seismic shift in the way that cases are funded. As a result, injured cyclists are going to be left in a worse financial position than in the current system. The changes are coming in on 1st April 2013 and I would urge any cyclist (or otherwise injured person, for that matter) who intends on bringing a case to get legal advice now.

At the moment, injured cyclists who want to bring a case would usually enter into a conditional fee agreement with their solicitor. The solicitor is entitled to charge a success fee if they win to reflect that they would earn nothing if the case lost. The success fee would then be paid by the driver's insurance company and nothing would be deducted from the cyclist's damages. 

The biggest change coming is that (as of 1st April 2013) success fees are not going to be recoverable from the driver's insurers. Instead a success fee to cover the risk of losing will need to be paid by the cyclist, meaning a deduction of up to 25% of their damages.

The only people to win out of the changes are going to be insurance companies who (as of September 2011) had donated £4.9m to the Conservative party since David Cameron became leader in December 2005. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has campaigned tirelessly against these changes but the government have not listened. Instead they have placed more importance on the profits of insurance companies than the rights of injured people.