Interesting to hear that Julian Huppert is keen to distort the law in favour of one set of road users over everyone else.

MP Julian Huppert’s argument that a law of ‘proportionate liability’ – assuming the larger vehicle and less vulnerable road user should be responsible for a crash – would offer cyclists greater protection and stop drivers claiming they hadn’t seen bikes.

ALL users of the highway need to obey the rules and take responsibility for their actions. Deciding liability on size or impact rather than the action taken is plain silly.

It might not be life threatening to me when a cyclist scratches the side of my car and then rides off but it is expensive to repair and very irritating. To also be found liable because I’m a car driver would add insult to injury.

Cyclists that weave in and out, fail to signal intentions to pull out, go through red lights, hop on and off pavements and don’t use lights in the dark are far too plentiful in Cambridge. They create tensions and irritation amongst all road users, including pedestrians and cause considerable frustration to the cycling lobby who try to encourage the right things.

I read the Netherlands and Germany quoted as examples of where the assumption of innocence for cyclist works. Their are unintended consequences to a law of this sort. When I lived in Germany a small industry grew up with cyclists suing car drivers. Their were even examples of cyclists deliberately colliding with slow moving cars just for the compensation. We, British Forces were particularly juicy targets.

Cycling is great for many reasons. Lets not have yet another reason to divide and cause friction between different kinds of road users.

If everyone stuck to the rules it would be safer for all.

11 thoughts on “Cycling

  1. Germany doesn’t have a US style litigation and compensation culture. Your statement “There were even examples of cyclists deliberately colliding with slow moving cars just for the compensation” surprises me, I have never heart anything like it and have lived in Germany for longer than you. Operational Risk (“Betriebsgefahr”) is not a topic of discussion and works well:


  2. So the Dutch are “plain silly”? That same change has been central to the achieving what you see there today. A genuine cycling culture, not a fight on the roads by selfish clueless drivers who think they are ‘equal’ to road users. They can never be while they are going around in 2 tonne metal machines vs a totally unprotected cyclist.

    Thank THE LORD that the good people of Fulbourn saw the light and booted you out of local politics. Many of them are cyclists! As are many of the rest of the local electorate.


    • I see you are religious but lets not turn cycling into one.

      Most of this country has the wrong terrain for cycling any meaningful distance and certainly not practical for commuting. You should try cycling in Cornwall where I was brought up. Too many hills.

      It’s not all about Cambridge, a bigger world does exist outside.

      I will look forward to you standing as a councillor and getting involved. Easy to criticise from the sidelines.

      For the record I supported cycle ways in Fulbourn and had a new one built between Horningsea and Fen Ditton.


  3. Interesting you mention hills as a barrier to cycling. Some very hilly cities in the USA, e.g. San Francisco and Seattle see higher levels of cycling than many flat once (e.g. Houston). Maybe having a high-tech community is a bigger factor than having flat terrain.

    VCÖ (‘Traffic Club Austria’, a transport lobby) published a list of European cities with high rates of cycling, see

    Among these cities are rather hilly places like Bozen in south Tyrol, Ferrara and Freiburg (with the same modal share for cycling as Cambridge), Heidelberg, Innsbruck and Basel. Even hilly Bristol ranks among the most cycled cities in the UK.


  4. Hi Nick,
    I read this article with interest. I am both a driver and cyclist in Cambridge and come across the worst of both sides all the time. I would be interested in your views on drivers that hold animosity for cyclists and drive as such. On one occasion last week, my elbow was clipped by a wing mirror of a car passing, who then drove across my path to drive into a side road. This caused me to have to swerve in to the road to avoid being knocked off, that was simply a reaction and not a conscious decision to do so. When I caught up with the driver to remonstrate, he told me I don’t pay tax and have no right to be on the road (he did not like my response that I owned 3 cars). I was in a cycle lane on Hills Road.

    On the flip side, as a driver, whilst I have experienced incompetence, I have never been on the receiving end of aggression from a cyclist.

    I think that my point is, this bicycle vs. car debate only contributes to animosity between the ‘sides’. Both should work together to promote infrastructure and I believe that will improve flow and safety for both road users.

    As for Huppert’s law of proportional liability, I can understand what he is saying but maybe the real point is about reminding people of the relative damage that they can cause on the road (to life and property) in or on the vehicle they use. Also, the if one could prove a cyclist at fault, the liability would not lie with the driver. Its just the weight of liability in 50/50 claims would lie with the driver.

    As for hill cycling, my brother-in-law on the Isle of Man (I think this might give away to you who I am) cycles up a ‘mountain’ 2 or 3 times a week!

    I think the recent announcement of funding will help but in bicycle heavy cities, investment in a segregate infrastructure can only serve to help ALL road users.


    • Hi Tim,

      I think that the car driver who clipped your elbow was driving without due care and attention and should be dealt with accordingly. Clearly an example of very poor driving bordering on the reckless.

      But, at least you can take the registration number and report it. And if your bike was damaged claim off his insurance. Or worse, if you had been injured, you would have been able to seek redress from the car insurance.

      All the systems, police, insurance, public opinion etc are set up to recognise poor car driving, take action against poor drivers and manage any outcomes. Whilst enforcement needs improving it exists.

      Unfortunately, it does not seem to be the case with cyclists. Their seems to be a different attitude which I find odd. Instead of the systems recognising that poor cycling is also serious, it puts individuals at risk, it causes frustration on the roads, damage is done to other road users including pedestrians and the law is brought into disrepute.

      I often hear the argument that cyclists are more vulnerable but that is no reason for them to behave in an erratic and illegal way, quite the opposite.

      The small child in school can’t keep on being a pain in the ass just because he is small. Eventually, and wrongly, through frustration a bigger child will sort him out.

      I believe that ALL road users need to use it correctly and responsibly what ever their size or vulnerability.


  5. Hi Jess,

    Thanks but I’m not sure what news letter you are talking about. I have not sent anything out for some time.

    Can you point me to what you have seen?




    • Sorry Nick

      I meant this blog. The strapline at the top, underneath “Nick Clarke – Telling it as it is”


      • Thanks Jess. Not an easy thing to find or alter. Like all things, when you know how it is easy. All sorted I hope.


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