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Safe Cycling IOM

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Vulnernable User Rules


Only 5 countries in the EU don’t have 'Presumed Liability' in Civil Law against motorists in incidents involving vulnerable road users (the UK, Cyprus, Malta, Romania and Ireland). Vulnerable User Rules are introduced in an attempt to reduce accident rates.


'Presumed liability' means that the default responsibility for an incident falls on the driver of the larger mass vehicle. This is a reflection on the potential for harm.


In an incident between a motorized vehicle and a bicycle, the starting point is that it is the fault of the motorist. It is then up to the motorist to mitigate from that position. Motorists have a duty of care over vulnerable road users. The Manx Highway Code repeatedly reminds of the need for extra vigilance. It is a logical extrapolation that the onus of responsibility is with the motorist.


Denmark and France have relatively rigid strict liability rules. In any incident with a cyclist or other vulnerable road user, motorists must provide an extremely high burden of proof to absolve themselves of financial liability. In the Netherlands, the driver of the vehicle is liable unless he or she can prove the incident was caused by circumstances beyond their control, or it was the cyclists fault. Even so, motorists are never less than 50% liable. If the cyclist was a child the driver is always 100% liable.


Some countries have a hierarchy of vulnerability i.e. a motorised vehicle is the object of danger to a cyclist, but a cyclist is the object of danger in an incident with a pedestrian. 90% of cycling deaths are caused by collisions with motor vehicles.

-Civil legislation


Cycle Law Scotland have a campaign and petition to introduce Vulnerable Road User legislation of Scotland’s devolved powers. They propose presumed liability, increasing to strict liability if the person on the bicycle is under 14, over 65 or disabled. Click on the logo to link to their useful website.


-Criminal Law


The US have strengthened criminal penalties for those who cause death or injury to vulnerable road users.


Queensland, Australia, plan to introduce a new offence of inflicting death or serious harm to a vulnerable road user, with harsher sentencing options than for the existing generic offences.


It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are. – Ernest Hemmingway

'What happens if a cyclist hits my car??? Who pays the repair bill?'

   -comment on IOM Police Facebook page 3/4/2015