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Title: Cyclists caused a claim against me

Date: 07 December 2011

Cyclists caused a claim against me!

Question

I was riding down a single carriageway (one lane going each way) country road. Ahead of me were 2 cyclists cycling side by side and clearly chatting to each other without a care in the world to other motorists. They were taking up most of my lane. The road ahead looked clear so I went to overtake the cyclists but as I did a car appeared in the oncoming lane. He had to swerve to avoid me and I had nowhere to go because if I pulled left I would have knocked the cyclists off their bikes. Now the car driver is suing me for personal injuries as he ended up in a ditch and with whiplash – I have had a copy of a claim form from my insurer. This is really unfair as the cyclists were hogging the road. What should I do?

John Hart, Pembrokeshire

Answer

I have some sympathy with you as it does appear that pedal cyclists have swarmed onto the roads over the past 2 years or so and I frequently come across them riding in side by side formation rather than in single file. It is still not a legal requirement for cyclists to have insurance like motorists have to and as such even in cases where the cyclist is to blame for a motor accident the victim often goes after the motorist with insurance. On the facts of your case although it was clearly annoying for the cyclists to block your path there was evidently not enough of a gap for you to safely overtake and you should have waited for a safe time to overtake. The fact that you entered the oncoming lane and caused another vehicle to swerve leads me to think that this is solely your fault and I suspect your insurer will be admitting liability.

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