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Cycling safety: Drivers must be more observant

The cycling community, of which I am an active member, has been rocked thanks to accidents that have seen two of its high profile members knocked off their bikes and injured as a result of driver negligence. 

Thankfully, Bradley Wiggins was discharged from hospital within 24 hours of being knocked off his bike with relatively minor injuries.  However, reports on head coach for Team GB, Shane Sutton, have been less favourable and a man who's played a key role in the career of Wiggins and many of our other cycling greats, could suffer severe long term consequences as the result of a driver's negligence. 

What has made Sutton's injury even more personal to me is that his accident happened on the same cycle route I use to commute to and from work every day - Manchester's A6.  For quite some time now, this road has been known to cyclists that make use of it as having its problem areas and this accident brings that home to me on an entirely new level. 

At JMW Solicitors, a number of my colleagues cycle to work and face the same problems as myself, Bradley Wiggins, Shane Sutton and every other road cyclist does.  Although my personal knowledge of cycling makes me a better-equipped solicitor when it comes to appreciating the unique nuances that cycling claimants have, I would far rather have to use this empathy less, and see fewer accidents caused where my client tells me that the driver of the motor vehicle that caused them an injury simply wasn't paying enough attention to the road.  Drivers need to remember that if they hit a cyclist, with whatever vehicle they are in control of, they can cause severe or even fatal injuries.  When a body is put up against a large chunk of moving metal travelling at high speed, the body will come out worse every single time. 

My colleague Danielle's blog earlier this week called attention to how more must be done to build consideration of cyclists into our infrastructure, so that we embark on any journey with the promise that we will give cyclists the space they need on the roads and I echo her thoughts here.  When planning roads, we must look at setting out dedicated cycle paths, providing a logical flow for cyclists and making sure that we are given an equal footing with motor vehicles and pedestrians.  If we are to encourage more cyclists onto the road, which has clear health and economic gains for the country, we must treat them better. 

It is a tragedy when any cyclist is injured as the result of someone else's negligence, but if we could take anything positive from these awful sets of circumstances, it is that hopefully drivers will be aware that it could be anyone on their bike and that they will therefore treat every cyclist they encounter with the respect they deserve.  I also hope that this will add weight to calls being made to MPs for better legislation to be passed in respect of cyclists. 

If you are a cyclist and you have been involved in an accident as the result of a driver's negligence, I am happy to talk further with you, should you wish to take advice on making a claim.  You can get in touch with me at jane.bedfordmclaren@jmw.co.uk or on 0800 054 6570. 

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