Record-breaking long-distance British cyclist, adventurer and broadcaster, Mark Beaumont, is leading calls for the new Scottish Parliament to support a change in civil law to help protect vulnerable road users.
As an ambassador for the campaign group Road Share, Mark has fronted a heart-felt video setting out the case for presumed liability, which has been sent to all MSPs in the new Scottish Parliament.
In the video, he introduces Frances Darling, who tells the story of her sister Sally Low, who was killed while out cycling. A car driver came round a corner too fast, lost control and hit Sally. She died instantly. Sally was a single Mum who cared for her two teenage boys.
“I was very moved to hear Frances explain what had happened to Sally and how our current fault based system had let her family down. Presumed liability would ensure that vulnerable road users are compensated quickly and fairly and the bereaved and those who suffer serious injury are treated with compassion. I hope that all MSPs in the new Scottish Parliament take a few minutes to watch this video to better understand the issue and then take positive steps to bring about this legislative change.”
Road Share argues that while there has been investment in cycle paths and road infrastructure and greater encouragement for cycle skills training, Scotland’s roads still represent a disproportionate danger to cyclists because culturally our roads belong to the car.
In 2014, 155 cyclists were either seriously injured or killed on Scotland’s roads. An increase of 16% on the 2004-2008 average.
A petition calling for change has attracted more than 10,000 signatures and this video has been sent to all 129 MSPs, including the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP and new Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP.
Brenda Mitchell, founder member of Road Share and lead Solicitor with Cycle Law Scotland who represented Sally’s family said,
“Sally did nothing wrong and the driver who hit her was fully insured yet Sally’s family had to resort to litigation to recover much needed compensation. It’s disgraceful that the insurer wouldn’t even pay for funeral costs at an early stage and didn’t consider easing the financial burden on Sally’s family. Presumed liability rights a wrong in our current fault based system and ensures the weak are protected.”
Dave Moxham, Dep Gen Sec of the STUC, who agreed at their recent Congress to fully back the campaign commented,
“By introducing presumed liability for vulnerable road users to Scots Civil Law we can begin to affect how people view their responsibilities as road users. We know the impact that this type of legislation had when it was introduced into the workplace and we believe it can have the same type of impact on the roads. It is embedded in the cycling cultures in Europe, where cycling is far safer. It seems strangely stubborn of our Government to continue to ignore this simple and sensible course of action.”
Craig Burn, CEO of Scottish Cycling and Road Share Steering Group member added,
“One of the challenges for the Road Share campaign has been how best to communicate to the general public what presumed liability means and why Scotland should embrace it for Civil road traffic liability claims involving vulnerable road users. This video and Frances’ emotive words should resonate with all Scots and it is the reason why Scottish Cycling and indeed British Cycling support this campaign. We want to see many more people cycling on our roads with confidence and this is one of a number of measures which will help to make that a reality.”