4/28/2014Scotland: Bicyclists Seek To Declare Motorists Automatically Guilty
Bicycle activists in Scotland move to make car drivers automatically liable in the event of an accident.
When there is a collision between a bicyclist and a motorist, the Scottish Parliament is considering making it a rule that the automobile driver is presumed responsible. Thousands "pedaled on Parliament" in Edinburgh Saturday in a rally to convince lawmakers to adopt the strict liability policy as well as other initiatives that would provide special treatment for two wheelers, such as diversion of motoring tax revenue to cycling programs.
Transport Scotland has been active in reviewing the prospects of "strict liability" legislation that would hold motorists automatically responsible in the event of a collision. The work began four years as part of the agency's "Cycling Action Plan." Members of the Scottish Parliament have been meeting with bicycle activists to develop an implementation strategy. At one meeting, Dave du Feu with the Lothian Cycle Campaign warned of the need to carefully manage public perception.
"Du Feu also expressed support for ensuring that the campaign succeeds," the minutes of an April 2013 meeting with parliamentarians stated. "Du Feu noted that there has, to date, been mixed public opinion with some people thinking that it is cyclists angling to be a 'special case.'"
The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) went beyond that criticism and called the plan a "fraudsters charter" that would lead to innocent motorists being penalized for the mistakes of bicyclists.
"A driver could be involved in an accident caused, for an example by a cyclist running a red light, yet potentially face hefty legal bills trying to prove their innocence," ABD spokesman Sean Corker said in a statement.
Beyond strict liability, the Pedal on Parliament group released a manifesto demanding the speed limit on residential roads be cut to 20 MPH. The plan also seeks to take away lanes from automobile traffic for use by dedicated bicycle lanes. The basic idea is to destroy the UK's "car culture" and replace it with one that favors pedal-powered transport.
"In the Netherlands, bikes reign supreme," a Pedal on Parliament video explains. "And the cars are the ones who must show care and navigate around... Is it not about time we gave the bicycle a bit more respect in the UK?"
The ABD insists the idea that the way for cyclists to get respect is not to shake down the motoring public.
"All drivers could potentially be affected in the same way that we are all potentially vulnerable to credit card fraud or identity theft," Corker said.