Can I claim if I was injured when cycling on the pavement?
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?
In this article
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.
In practice, the police tend to use their discretion - particularly in the case of children.
The dangers of cycling on the pavement
Cycling on the pavement does pose risks and may lead to injury through collisions with pedestrians, street furniture, or when merging back onto the road.
Accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians on pavements are rare and only around 2% of pavement-related pedestrian accidents in London involve cyclists. In all probability this is because cycling o pavements is rare and even when you do see it, cyclists aren't usually travelling at speed.
Accidents on pavements that involve cyclists and pedestrians are uncommon. In London, cyclists are only involved in about 2% of these incidents, with motor vehicles being responsible for the remaining 98%.
The low incidence of accidents likely results from the rarity of cycling on pavements and the typically slow speeds at which cyclists ride when they do use pavements.
Children cycling on the pavement
A study carried out 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 to 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 claim compensation if I was injured when riding on the pavement?
If you are injured in a cycling accident due to someone else's negligence, you might have grounds for a claim.
A personal injury claim hinges on whether there was a breach of a duty of care, which is a legal obligation on a person, company, or organisation, to protect the well-being of others.
- an employer has a duty of care to their employees
- a doctor has a duty of care to patients
- a road user has a duty of care to other road users
If a driver's negligence or actions caused you to be injured while cycling on a pavement, such as mounting the pavement and colliding with you, you could have a strong case for compensation.
If you were injured in a collision with a pedestrian exiting a shop doorway while you were riding on the pavement, however, a claim might be more challenging. A defendant would likely argue that there was contributory negligence on your part. In other words, your choice to cycle rather than walk contributed to the severity of your injuries.
If contributory negligence is successfully argued by the defendant, your compensation may be reduced under a split liability agreement reflecting your share of responsibility in the accident.
Split liability agreements
A split liability agreement may be entered into between a claimant and a defendant when there is fault on both sides.
For instance, if you're found partially responsible because you were cycling on the pavement, which contributed to your injury, the compensation could be reduced accordingly. If a court finds both you and the defendant each 50% at fault, you would receive 50% of the compensation you would have otherwise received if you were not at fault at all.
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.
What if I injured a pedestrian?
If you're cycling on the pavement and you injure a pedestrian, you may be considered at fault and liable. If you don't have cycling insurance, you might be responsible for paying for their injuries and losses.
Contributory negligence may be a factor if, for example, the injured pedestrian wasn't paying attention, in which case liability may be shared. The court will assess the case on its' own merits and may reduce your liability if it finds the pedestrian's lack of attention contributed to their injuries.
If you were injured as a cyclist, or you were involved in a collision with a cyclist, click on the icons below to read more about claiming:
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Questions about the injury claims process?
Get all the answers in our comprehensive FAQ section:
- How will a personal injury claim affect my benefits?
- Will I have to pay tax on my injury compensation award?
- Can I make a personal injury claim for someone else?
- Can I claim injury compensation if there were no witnesses?
- Can I make an injury claim if I don't know who's to blame?
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.