CTC fears insurance companies are likely to use the wording of the new Code, which has recently been re-drafted, as an excuse to reduce the amount of compensation that they pay if a motorist hits a cyclist that has chosen to use a road rather than a nearby cycle facility.
CTC Campaigns & Policy Manager, Roger Geffen, said: Cyclists have the right to choose a direct route using roads rather than the meandering, badly-designed and poorly-maintained paths that often pass as cycle facilities. This well-intentioned but highly prejudicial Highway Code rule must be changed before its too late.
A similar rule in the existing Highway Code, which states that cycle helmets should be worn has caused serious problems for cyclists, including 9-year-old cyclist Darren Coombs who was left permanently disabled after being hit by a car. Darrens parents then had to face the claim that they themselves were guilty of contributory negligence for allowing him to ride unaccompanied and without a helmet. There was no legal requirement for Darren to wear a helmet – the actions of the insurance company stemmed entirely from the Highway Code wording, said the CTC.
CTC believes the new rule about using cycle facilities could be even more damagaing, as it would be almost impossible to argue against contributory negligence claims based on non-use of a cycle facility. However strongly the cyclist might argue that their decision not to use the facility was a rational one, the courts are almost bound to conclude that the collision would have been avoided if the cyclist had been in a different place at the time, argues the CTC.
CTC is calling on cyclists to spend less than two minutes joining its online campaign at http://www.ctc.org.uk campaigns to see:
"The removal of all words (e.g. those relating to cycle facilities and helmets) which may give rise to unwarranted contributory negligence claims against cyclists;
"Stronger advice to drivers on interacting safely with cyclists (particularly the advice on leaving an adequate gap when overtaking a cyclist);
"All advice on cycling (particularly the advice on negotiating roundabouts) to be in line with the new National Standard for cycle training
"A recommendation to anyone wishing to improve their confidence and safety to undertake cycle training to the National Standard."