Cycling accidents and negligence
Accidents are inevitable in very cold conditions. People can slip and fall while out walking, cycling or perhaps become involved in a road traffic accident.
The cold weather doesn’t necessarily result in a flood of personal injury claims. This is because a claim can only be made if an accident has occurred because of negligence. For example, if a cyclist slips on ice while riding on a road, a claim will only be awarded if it can be proved the council hasn’t done their job properly by making the roads safe.
The law says that a council’s duty of care is “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice”.
Every council should have a gritting policy to help prevent accidents when winter cycling. When bad weather is forecast the primary roads will be gritted first, followed by the secondary roads. Once these roads are gritted the council will then target local roads. During very cold weather periods most of the council’s resources may be used only to keep the primary (and possibly secondary) routes clear.
For example the London Camden Council gritting policy includes priority gritting routes, including transport hubs and areas around schools.
So if a cyclist slips and injures themselves on a local road then it’s unlikely they will have a claim. The council would argue their policy is to clear major roads and that it’s not reasonably practical for them to clear every road in their borough.
However if a cyclist has an accident due to ice on a primary road that had not been gritted or cleared, then they could have a claim. It would be argued that safe passage along a highway had not been maintained.
To find out cycling tips (and not just for cold weather) visit the CTC (the UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation) website and read about Skills of the Road.