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Written on 2nd November 2021 by

Cycling can be a great way for people of all ages to keep fit and active.  However, it is unfortunately not without risk.  Our serious injury lawyers have sadly seen many cases where cyclists have suffered life changing injuries.

There are ways that these risks can be kept to a minimum and these are particularly important as the nights draw in and many people will be cycling to and from work in the dark.

Cycle helmets

Head injuries can unfortunately result from a blow to the head following a fall from the bike or a collision.   While many people recover quickly after a minor head injury, some people suffer more serious long term effects, such as cognitive difficulties, memory problems, behavioural changes and fatigue. 

The leading brain injury charity, Headway, believe that all cyclists should wear a cycle helmet and that wearing helmets should be compulsory for children. They support this position with research and expert opinion from leading neurosurgeons, together with common sense which dictates that wearing a cycle helmet will offer greater protection to a person’s fragile skull than not wearing one.

Headway’s Chief Executive, Peter McCabe says:

“When you take your laptop out, you put it in a case with padding to protect it. The most precious computer you will ever own is the one between your ears so why wouldn’t you take the same precautions with your own brain, or indeed, that of your children.”

Headway refer to a 2018 study in the academic journal, Accident Analysis & Prevention, which gathered the findings of 55 studies from 1989 – 2017 and found that cycle helmets:

  • reduced head injury by 48%;
  • reduced serious head injury by 60%;
  • reduced traumatic brain injury by 53%;
  • reduced facial injury by 23%;
  • reduced the total number of killed or seriously injured cyclists by 34%

When bringing a claim for a head injury in circumstances where a cyclist was not wearing a helmet, a court would be likely to decide that the cyclist was negligent and that this contributed to the injuries that they suffered.  This is known as ‘contributory negligence’ and can lead to a reduction in the amount of compensation payable to the injured cyclist.

Lights

We see many cycling accidents occur as a result of a car driver simply not seeing the cyclist.  The risk of this is greater in winter when daylight hours are shorter and more people are cycling to and from work in the dark.

When you cycle in the dark, you are legally required to have lights and reflectors.

At least one front lamp is required, showing a white light, positioned centrally or offside (the right-hand side of the bike), up to 1500mm from the ground, aligned towards and visible from the front.

One rear lamp is required, to show a red light, positioned centrally or offside (the right-hand side of the bike), between 350mm and 1500mm from the ground, at or near the rear, aligned towards and visible from behind.

One rear reflector is required, positioned centrally or offside (on the right-hand side of the bike), between 250mm and 900mm from the ground, at or near the rear, aligned towards and visible from behind.

Four pedal reflectors are required; coloured amber and positioned so that one is plainly visible to the front and another to the rear of each pedal.

Cycling UK have a detailed explanation of the legal requirements to have lights and reflectors on their website https://www.cyclinguk.org/lighting-regulations.

Bright clothing and reflective wear

Another way that cyclists can reduce the risk of not being seen in the dark is to wear bright and reflective clothing. 

Some people riding bikes at night assume that street lights are enough for a motorist to see them, as they can see themselves. This is unfortunately not the case and many incidents involving bicycles in the dark are as a result of cyclists wearing dark clothing with no reflectors.

Bright clothing is useful in the day, but cyclists should wear reflective clothing in the dark in order that they can be seen when car headlights are shining towards them.

How can Boyes Turner help?

Boyes Turner’s personal injury team are recognised as national experts in the Legal 500 and Chambers directories for their expertise and experience in helping brain-injured cyclists and their families obtain rehabilitation, care, adapted accommodation, equipment, therapies and substantial compensation following road traffic accidents.

If you or a family member have suffered brain injury or serious disability in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email at piclaims@boyesturner.com.