Can I claim if I was hurt when cycling 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'.
Fifty-three years later the Local Government Act 1888 declared that bicycles fell within the ?carriages' bracket and were therefore subject to the Highways Act.
Currently then it is against the law to ride on pavements in England and Wales. Those guilty of breaking this law could face a fixed penalty of £50 issued by the police or a maximum fine of £500 imposed by a Court.
In the case of Sophie Lindsey she would not be subject to such repercussions because she was under ten-years old and as such below the age of criminal responsibility.
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 occasional. Of all the pavement-related pedestrian accidents in London in 2013, only 2% involved cyclists. Motor vehicles were liable for the other 98%.
Despite the apparent safety of riding on pavements it remains illegal, although 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, CTC, recently revealed that just 1% of children cycle to primary school.
Most people would consider that children learning to ride bikes have the right to do so in a safe environment away from traffic. Pavements would seem to offer just such a safe environment.
Children are also at risk in residential areas where the speed limit is 30mph and feel safer riding on the pavement. Campaign groups like ?20s Plenty for Us' are tirelessly working 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.
The case of Sophie Lindsey
A recent incident involved four-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 but despite her age the officer was insistent that she stop riding, stating ?the law is the law'.
Sophie and her father were then informed that if she was to ride on the pavement again she would run the risk of having the bike confiscated.
Lincolnshire Police later apologised for the episode, stating that officers should use common sense when young children are involved. However, they added that safety was their main concern and emphasised ?cycling on the pavement is illegal'.
Can I take legal action if I was riding on the pavement?
Central to the general question of whether a personal injury claim can be made is the matter of negligence or breach of duty.
Did the accident occur as the result of the negligence act or failure to act of another party who owed the claimant a duty of care?
Road uses owe each other a duty of care, and so if one road user is negligence and injures another, the injured party may make a claim. In the event that a road user broke the law, and injured another party in the course of doing so, the Courts may be entitled to assume that the road user is negligent. They may then be liable for a personal injury claim.
If a road user broke the law, such as a cyclist riding on the pavement, and was injured by another road user, it may be the case that they cannot claim the full compensation to which they would otherwise be entitled. In this example, the cyclist's contributory negligence in breaking the law may have contributed to the accident.
In summary, this is can be a complicated issue, and there is not a simple answer to this question. For more information, or to speak to a specialist solicitor regarding a cycling accident claim, call 0800 612 7456.