Potential New Laws to Protect Cyclists
Caroline Kelly, a partner and Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law at Thorntons solicitors in Dundee, backs potential for new laws to protect cyclists.
She was speaking after it emerged that The Department for Transport is reviewing proposals for new road rules to introduce a minimum distance for cars when overtaking cyclists.
It’s been reported that drivers who don’t abide by minimum spacing rules could face a £100 fine and three penalty points, as this offence would be classed as careless driving.
She said: “With the desire to introduce more people to cycling, it is natural that the Department for Transport are looking at ways to make cycling safer and to tempt people onto their bikes. The Highway Code gives guidance that drivers should give cyclists as much room when they overtake as they would a car or other vehicle, but that rule is vague.
“Cyclists are vulnerable road users as they don’t have anything separating them from the road or from cars and are therefore at risk of sustaining more serious injuries than the occupants of a car if they were to be involved in a collision. As such I think it is sensible for there to be more specific rules centred around protecting cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
“Specifying the minimum distance to give when overtaking is a step in the right direction. Overtaking a cyclist carries more risk than overtaking a vehicle – cyclists can suddenly change direction for many reasons, for example because their wheel has struck a stone or they are trying to avoid a pothole. By giving a cyclist plenty of space when overtaking, that could help prevent accidents.
“Should the proposals be introduced, drivers will need to be aware of the minimum distance – and how that minimum distance looks from the driver seat of their car as they overtake a cyclist travelling on the passenger side of their car. I would anticipate that a common sense approach would be taken in prosecuting such offences with the road environment and speed being taken into account. Ultimately drivers would need to be aware of the minimum distance and the potential penalties for failing to comply with that.”