July 15, 2020
The UK went into lockdown on March 23rd, in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus. Understandably after that date, the positive news stories relating to the effects of the pandemic lockdown were few and far between.
There have been some though. For instance, the fact that most people were confined to the immediate vicinity of their homes, had an amazing effect on the environment. Reports started to appear of animals taking over deserted towns. There was a noticeable improvement in the formerly heavily polluted waterways of Venice and elsewhere. The air became noticeably purer and the skies brighter.
One of the causes of a reduction in air pollution levels was due to the significant drop in the numbers of motor vehicles on the roads in the early weeks after lockdown began. In fact, road traffic levels dropped down to those last seen in the 1950s.
At the same time, as a respite from being restricted in our other movements, the government allowed us to take one hours’ exercise outdoors each day. Whilst some started to explore their localities on foot by walking or running, others got out their bicycles and headed for the deserted roads.
Cycling gained new converts too. In fact, such has been the rise in cycling’s popularity since the Covid19 lockdown started that cycling shops and manufacturers have struggled to keep up with the demand for new bicycles.
Will the cycling boom continue after Covid 19 lockdown?
Whilst the opportunity to cycle for pleasure during the day will become less, as people return to work, it’s unlikely that those who recently gained a newfound or revived interest in cycling, will simply stop doing it. As seasoned cyclists will attest to, once the cycling bug gets hold of you, that’s it. You are hooked!
There’s another reason that cycling’s popularity is likely to hold up. It could become a preferred means of transport for the commute to work!
In mid May the government signalled plans for people to start taking 'baby steps' to go back to work if it was 'safe to do so'.
However, An RAC news report of the 19th June reported that governments across the world were urging people not to use public transport because of the dangers of spreading or contracting coronavirus. Indeed, the UK’s Transport Minister, Grant Schapps, when asked whether he would take a packed tube or bus to work, is reported to have answered, that he would not.
Assuming that people across the UK do shun the use public transport as a means of minimising the risk of catching the Covid19 virus, there is likely to be a surge in the number of cars on the road, with many of those who have historically commuted to work by public transport deciding to use their cars instead.
It is no surprise then that the RAC expect that the volume of traffic on the roads in the coming weeks, might even exceed pre-lockdown levels!
It's not inconceivable to forecast that a proportion of those people who decide not to use public transport to commute to work, will decide to do the journey by bicycle instead. Increased volumes of traffic, with the ensuing jams that are likely result, may in fact be a factor in persuading many to cycle to work.
Why should cyclists be worried about any of this?
The boom seen in cycling over the past few months is a healthy trend both for those who have taken up cycling and also because it is a form of travel that helps to reduce pollution. A journey by bicycle that replaces one travelled by car can only be a force for good in helping to reduce overall pollution levels.
If there is cause for concern, it is that as motorised traffic volumes seem to set to rise up to previously unseen levels over the coming weeks and months, there will be an increased risk of the two modes of transport, cycling and driving, coming into conflict with each other, in the form of road traffic accidents.
As road traffic accident claims solicitors will testify to, two of the biggest causes of road traffic accidents generally, cycling accidents included, are:
- Large volumes of traffic
- Motorists driving too quickly.
One thing that the lockdown has proved, is that given the opportunity, too many motor vehicle drivers will put their foot down at every opportunity. Police and traffic authorities have been appalled at the excessive flouting of the speed limit by numerous motorists taking advantage of the quieter roads that the country has experienced over the past few months.
It is worrying to note that even with the relatively motor vehicle free roads that we had in early lockdown, some police forces were reporting increases in the proportion of accidents involving bicycles during that period, with one force noticing a 7% increase.
Cyclists are in the group known as 'vulnerable road users'
The Highway Code classes cyclists as vulnerable road users. It indicates that extra care is to be taken by motorists when they are driving near to cyclists. The reason that they are considered dot be vulnerable is because:
- If a cyclist is involved in an accident with a car, van or lorry, the cyclist is almost inevitable going to be the one who comes off worst. Many cyclists suffer serious injury as a result of accident s that might otherwise have fairly innocuous consequences if both vehicles involved were motorists.
- Cyclists can be harder to notice at road junctions and roundabouts. A significant number of cycling accidents are caused by car drivers who simply do not see the cyclist whilst they are in the process of undertaking a turning manoeuvre or entering a roundabout.
- Carelessly flung open car doors are the cause of many a cycling accident injury!
- Lorry and van drivers regularly fail to anticipate the presence of cyclists in their blind spots.
- Cyclists are often at greatest danger in heavy town and city centre traffic, particularly if there is a lack of adequate cycle lane infrastructure.
Will we see a surge in cycling accidents in coming months then?
If the predictions of there being higher than average traffic volumes in coming months prove to be true, then it is almost certain that there will be an increase in the numbers of road accidents.
Will that include a higher percentage of cycling accidents than normal? If the numbers cyclists stay at the current higher than normal levels, then logically it’s conceivable that the proportion of cycling accidents will increase.
In the long run, the way that cycling accidents will be reduced is by the construction of more cycle only lanes and by better education of both cyclists and drivers. However, a commitment to reducing the number of motor vehicles on our roads is also a key factor in this too. Unfortunately, the pandemic has, for the foreseeable future, put a large spanner in the works of the usual campaigns that encourage people to make more use of public transport as a means of travel.
Should you be unfortunate enough to suffer personal injury in a cycling accident that wasn’t your fault, then you are fully entitled to make a claim for personal injury compensation against the third party that caused the accident. Serious injury claims often result from cycling accidents. However, whatever the nature or severity of the bicycle accident injury you receive, you are still entitled to make a claim.
About the author
My name is Steve Barke of Spencers Solicitors in Chesterfield and I am an experienced bicycle accident compensation claim solicitor. I have successfully recovered thousands of pounds worth of compensation for clients who, received personal injuries in cycling accidents.
You can contact me on 08000 93 00 94 or by leaving a message for me to call you back. Most bicycle accident claims can be funded using a No Win No Fee agreement.