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Commuting

7 Ways you can use the Law to Protect Yourself

Know your rights and keep safe by using the law of the roads

We know that cycling amongst traffic can be intimidating. Cars get frustrated, pass too close or use their horn to through their weight around on the road. There are rules and laws in place to protect cyclists and drivers from accidents, so make sure you know what they are and how you can stay safe.

Defensive cycling for confident commuting

There were 3,430 cyclists who were killed or seriously injured between October 2015 and September 2016, a 7% increase on the 2010-14 average. Using publically available statistics, Roythornes Solicitors has put together a list of ways for cyclists to use the law in order to protect themselves.

Get a camera

Where it’s mounted to your helmet or your bike, it’s a good idea to get some recorded footage of your commute. This way, if an incident arises, you have video evidence to use if necessary.

“While it would not directly prevent an injury, the footage could provide vital evidence that will help to resolve who is at fault. If the evidence is supportive of the cyclist, and if it is disclosed to their insurers promptly, it could bring about a swift resolution in any liability dispute. Not only can courts use this evidence to prosecute, early disclosure would be actively encouraged under court procedure rules.”

Go on green

“To stay on the right side of the law, cyclists must avoid the temptation to pass through a red light even if no pedestrians or drivers are around. The law on skipping red lights is equally applicable to all road users including cyclists… Failure to stop at a red light could have consequences in a civil claim (a dispute between two or more road users) or in a criminal case (i.e. prosecution by the police).”

Insure yourself and your bike

“The type of insurance can vary. In the first instance, cycling enthusiasts who invest in expensive bicycles and equipment may wish to insure against theft or damage to the equipment. A cyclist may want to take out insurance to cover personal accidents which include any injury which may or may not have involved another party. These forms of insurance tend to offer a fixed tariff amount based on the type of injury sustained.”

Read our bicycle insurance guide for more information on how to legally protect you and your bike.

Invest in a helmet

“There is no legal requirement for cyclists to wear helmets. However, there have been a number of civil cases in which a driver has sought to argue that a cyclist contributed to their injuries due to not wearing a helmet. Once the driver has raised this argument, the burden is on them to prove that the failure to wear a helmet has caused or contributed to the injury.”

Fortunately for us, cycling helmets are becoming lighter, more stylish and ever more protecting.

Dont’ drink and ride

“It may be tempting for cyclists to adopt a more relaxed approach to drinking and cycling compared to drink driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a specific offence resulting in a fine. The use of alcohol may also contribute to dangerous or careless cycling, which is also considered a crime. With regards to a civil claim, if an injured cyclist was found to be under the influence of drink or drugs when they were hurt then this may reduce or negate their claim.”

Best to save the pint for the post-ride!

Who you gonna call? Nobody

“Whilst the use of mobile phones is not specifically prohibited for cyclists, the use of a mobile phone could, when looking at the facts, be found to contribute to the cyclist riding dangerously or carelessly. Again, it may be considered to be a factor in causing injury in a civil claim and serve to limit any entitlement to compensation.”

Best to get a phone mount for your bike and leave your Strava recording – that text message can wait.

Stick to the road or cycle path

Photo: A View from the Cycle Path

“It has been illegal for cyclists to ride on pavements since the ‘Highway Act of 1835’ came into place.”

Where possible, stick to the roads or cycle paths. If you have to get out of the way, dismount and walk your bicycle along the pavement instead.

You may also enjoy:

6 Things to watch out for on your commute

9 Ways to tackle potholes and obstacles

Your buying guide for bicycle locks

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