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Wheels and reels are spinning; Cyclists cameras are ‘black boxes’ in road accidents

Interest is growing in the Tour de France in the UK as the Le Tour has seen British riders Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome take the ‘maillot jaune’ (yellow jersey) on the last two tours.

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The 2014 Tour will see the Grand Depart leave from Yorkshire, which has been a contributing factor in the surge of interest in the sport following the success of British riders in recent years. British Cycling’s membership has increased by more than 30,000 since Bradley Wiggins crossed the line as winner of the Tour de France.

As the dark nights are closing in and the growing fluorescent army of cyclists persevere with their daily commutes through cold, wind and rain, have you noticed the increasing number of cyclists with a camera mounted to their helmet? GoPro and Contour make popular models which act as a cyclist’s black box if they are involved in a road traffic accident. The video cameras chronicling a cyclist’s daily commute to work are growing in popularity as cyclists want to be in a position where they have evidence to demonstrate they were not at fault and have proof of an offending motorist’s vehicle registration plate if the motorist decides to drive off from the scene of an accident.

Between 1999 – 2000, 1575 cyclists were killed on the roads in the UK with the greatest number of deaths and injuries taking place during the morning and evening rush hours, on week days. A consistent grumbling from aggrieved motorists is that cyclists should have their bikes registered and insurance should be made compulsory. Independent Market research firm Consumer Intelligence confirmed that 59% of motorists believe cyclists should have insurance to be on the roads.

Picture scenario one; a cyclist covered from head to toe in high visibility gear, lights flashing (so should be clearly visible) but the cyclist chooses to pay no attention to a red light at a junction, carries on without hesitation and despite the best efforts of the motorist (who has slammed on his brakes) he cannot avoid the collision, the cyclist gets an introduction to the tarmac and the motorist’s car is a write-off. In anyone’s book the fault lies with the cyclist but without any insurance in place on the part of the cyclist the motorist (if he is unsuccessful in pursuing the cyclist personally) has to swallow a hefty repair bill from the garage or a claim off his own insurance, losing his no claims bonus and an inflated premium to look forward to at his next renewal.

Picture scenario two now; an uninsured motorist is fast approaching tail back traffic, in an instant he makes a judgment call to take a diversion, without a thought, cursory look, an indication, let alone a life saver, the motorist pulls a ‘U’ turn and sends the trailing cyclist flying to a certain visit to the nearest Casualty department. The uninsured motorist leaves the scene immediately with no witnesses able to verify the vehicle’s registration plate. The cyclist could not possibly have known the intention of the driver and had no chance to avert the danger but fortunately he has his own insurance and despite an extended lay off from work he is covered for his loss of earnings and injuries suffered.

The merits of cyclists being insured is clear to see, however the limiting factor of compulsory insurance for cyclists is regulation. Who is going to pay for bicycles to be registered, as without registration no cyclist would be compelled to hand over their details? The administration of such a scheme would run into hundreds of thousands of pounds with such a burden being met by the taxpayer. Despite there currently being no legal obligation to have cycling insurance, with such policies costing as little as £30-40 a year, (and many cycling clubs offer third party insurance as part of their membership packages), is this a small price to pay for peace of mind?

If you want any further information on insurance matters please do not hesitate to contact our team.

Andy Boyde – Sports Consultant

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