Compulsory Cycle Paths?

This article was published in 1996, in Newsletter 6.

Jenny Prince writes:The Parish Council here in Oakington have just issued their annual report containing the following section about the cycle lane between Oakington and Girton. This “cycle lane” is basically a pavement with room for cyclists in one direction only, let alone pedestrians whom it also serves. It’s not very well made and you have to stop at road junctions so although I am glad it was built for the benefit of pedestrians, children cycling etc., I don’t use it myself – cyclists are not second-class road users!

This is what the Parish Council had to say:

“There is a good chance that an insurance company would successfully claim that a seriously or fatally injured cyclist behaved negligently by not using the cycleway provided and that this contributed to their injuries and therefore their claim for compensation would be substantially reduced.”

This made me quite angry because I have never heard that law or insurance forced a cyclist to use cycle lanes, however inadequate! Do you know if the Council’s statement is true?

Jenny Prince

Dave Earl replies: The answer to the question appears to be “no one knows, because it has never been tested”, but in cases where insurance companies have tried on the same line with cycle helmets (“you are negligent if you don’t wear a helmet, and therefore partly to blame for your injuries”) they have drawn back from this when challenged. This particular cycle track is patently unsuitable for riding on; and in any case, a cyclist has every right to use the road – motorists would not be blamed for having an accident on a country road simply because they decided to take that route instead of a motorway.

So it looks like Oakington Parish Council are trying it on: trying to intimidate cyclists into using an inadequate, poorly constructed, unsafe and unlit path. You bet your life that the person who wrote the annual report isn’t a cyclist.

Thanks Jenny for bringing this to our attention.

Dave Earl