Can I claim if I was injured when cycling on the pavement?

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If you have been injured in a cycling accident that was not your fault, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries. But what happens if you were riding on the pavement when you were injured?

Is it illegal to ride a bicycle on the pavement?

The Highways Act 1835 made it an offence to:

‘[ride or drive a] carriage of any description' along ‘any footpath or causeway by the side of the road'.

53 years later the Local Government Act 1888 declared that bicycles fell within the ‘carriages' bracket and were therefore subject to the Highways Act.

It is, therefore, against the law to ride a bicycle on pavements in England and Wales. If found guilty of breaking this law, you could face a fixed penalty of £50 issued by the police, or a maximum fine of £500 imposed by a court.

The dangers of cycling on the pavement

Statistics have shown that cycling on pavements poses little danger to pedestrians.

Accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians on pavements are rare. Around 2% of pavement-related pedestrian accidents in London involve cyclists. Motor vehicles were liable for the other 98%.

Despite the apparent safety of riding a bike on the pavement, however, it remains illegal. In practice, the police tend to use their discretion - particularly in the case of children.

Children cycling on the pavement

A study by the national cycling charity, Cycling UK, revealed that just 1% of children cycle to primary school.

Children are at greater risk on the roads. Even residential areas where the speed limit is 30mph pose a risk t children on bicycles.

Campaign groups like ‘20s Plenty for Us' are lobbying for all residential streets in the UK to be 20mph zones. An increase in the number of shared pedestrian and cycle pavements would also make riding on the pavement less of a legal issue.

Most people would consider that children learning to ride bikes have the right to do so in a safe environment and away from traffic. Pavements would seem to offer just such a safe environment.

The case of Sophie Lindsey

A notable incident involved 4-year old Sophie Lindsey, who was riding her bike on the way to school with her father in Grantham.

Sophie and her father were confronted by a police officer who demanded that Sophie dismount. Sophie had been riding her bike with stabilisers on the pavement. Despite her age, however, the police officer was insistent that she stop riding her bike, stating that "the law is the law".

Sophie and her father were then informed that if she rode on the pavement again, her bike may be confiscated.

The Lincolnshire Police later apologised for the episode, stating that officers should use common sense when young children are involved. However, a spokesman added that safety was the main concern of the police and, as such, cycling on the pavement remains illegal.

Can I take legal action if I was injured when riding on the pavement?

Central to the general question of whether a personal injury claim can be made, is whether there was a breach of a duty of care.

A duty of care is when a person, company or organisation has a legal obligation to safeguard the well-being of others.

For example:

  • an employer has a duty of care to their employees
  • a doctor has a duty of care to his patients
  • a road user has a duty of care to other road users

Did your cycling accident occur as the result of the negligence of another party who owed you a duty of care?

Road users owe each other a duty of care. If a road user is negligent leading to another party being injured, a compensation claim may be possible. If you were cycling on the pavement and you were injured in a collision with a pedestrian coming out of a shop doorway, a claim may not be possible.

If you were injured by a car that mounted the pavement when you were riding on the pavement, a claim would be likely to succeed. However, depending on the circumstances, your injuries may be worse as a result of you cycling (as opposed to walking). If it were established that your actions contributed to your injuries, you may not be entitled to the same level of compensation under the principle of 'contributory negligence'.

In summary, the fact that you riding on the pavement should not prevent you from making an injury claim. However, the circumstances can be complicated and as such, you should speak to a solicitor who will guide you accordingly.

See also:

I was cycling at night without lights - can I claim?

Can I claim if I was injured cycling without a bike helmet?

Is it illegal to ride a bicycle when drunk?

Should I take out cycle insurance?

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning cycling accident claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

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Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director