MSP calls for a 'stricter liability' law proposed by cycle campaigners

Green MSP Alison Johnstone called for a new law to make motorists automatically at fault in civil actions after an accident.

Campaigners said they have already received cross-party support for a Bill to be brought forward.

The UK is one of only five European countries that do not currently have the law, known as "stricter liability".

Transport Minister Keith Brown said he did not support the change to the law.

Mr Brown said there was a "lack of robust evidence that stricter liability could have positive benefits for vulnerable road users".

He did say he welcomed the debate and was more than willing to listen to other evidence on the issue.

Nine cyclists died on Scotland's roads last year, with a further 167 injured.

Under a "strict liability" law, motorists would be held responsible in the civil courts for all accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians - unless they can prove they were not to blame.

Ms Johnstone, the co-convener of Holyrood's group on cycling, told the chamber 12 cyclists had been killed already this year.

She said: "Stricter liability is a contribution to a better culture on our roads where vulnerable users are better protected".

Campaigners said those involved in collisions with cars can wait up to nine months to receive compensation - even in straightforward cases - while in serious or fatal accidents it can take more than two years.

Online signatures

Earlier this year the group Cycle Law Scotland launched a campaign to introduce "stricter liability" in such cases.

Under these arrangements, a motorist would be presumed liable in a legal claim against them if they had been in collision with a cyclist or pedestrian, though they would still have the option to allege the cyclist had caused the accident.

Scottish Cycling, the governing body for cycling in Scotland which has 12,000 members and 150 clubs, has now joined the campaign and more than 5,000 people have signed an online petition for a Members Bill to be brought forward at the Scottish Parliament.

Cycle Law Scotland founder Brenda Mitchell said: "Receiving the support of Scottish Cycling is a huge boost to our campaign as it's members represent a significant portion of the cycling community.

"I welcome its backing and hope this will help encourage the Scottish government to take a serious look at what we are proposing."

She said the number of cyclists being injured on the roads was rising.

Craig Burn, chief executive at Scottish Cycling, said: "It is our goal to promote and encourage the sport of cycling at all levels and we recognise safety plays a big part in successfully encouraging more people to take to two wheels."

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