A 58 year old woman suffered severe injuries when the front offside tyre of her bicycle was clipped by a vehicle’s rear offset tyre as they passed in a narrow country lane. The cyclist, who was not wearing a safety helmet and was seen to be standing upright on her pedals in the middle of the road at the time, failed to regain her balance and fell head-first into the road.
The court heard from the cyclist claimant that the motorist defendant failed to “properly assess the hazard”, i.e. appreciate there would not be sufficient room to safely pass and stop the vehicle in good time when the claimant approached in the middle of the road. The motorist initially disputed that a collision had even occurred and, instead, argued that the claimant had lost control of the bike as a result of the motorist not pulling over enough.
“Anticipate...vulnerable road users”
The court found that the motorist defendant driver was liable and should have stopped to allow the cyclist to pass safely. Referring to the Highway Code, the judge pointed to the requirement for motorists to “anticipate hazards in the road, particularly from vulnerable road users, and to be ready to react to them.”
The claimant’s failure to wear a helmet had been an alleged contributing factor. However, no medical evidence was offered to show that failing to wear a helmet had made the claimant’s injuries worse and, as it was not relied upon in the case, the allegation of contributory negligence was, therefore, disregarded.
The claimant was found to have contributed to the negligence of her accident by cycling too close to the middle of the carriageway and the judge therefore reduced the damages awarded by 25%.