Bereaved families call on Scottish Parliament for civil law change to protect cyclists

- Change in the law would ensure motorists have to prove they were not at fault - Cycling organisations lobbying government to have liability placed on the driver

(Image credit: Chris Catchpole)

A campaign has begun by the bereaved families of two cyclists killed on Scottish roads for the government to make a change to civil law that would mean motorists would need to prove they were not at fault in incidents with cyclists.

The system, which operates in all but five member states of the European Union, provides for a presumption of liability on a motorist involved in a collision with a more vulnerable road user such as a cyclist, unless the latter can be shown to have been at fault.

In the absence of such a system under Scottish law, the families of Andrew McNicoll, who died in Edinburgh in January 2012 following a collision with a lorry, and Sally Low, who lost her life after a collision with a car in Moray last year, have had to prove the driver was at fault in their civil cases.

It comes after the driver of a lorry who was involved in Mr McNicoll’s death was acquitted in March at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of causing his death through careless driving, reports Herald Scotland.

His stepmother, Lynne McNicoll, who together with his father Ian set up a cycle safety charity after his death, said: "How, in a just and civil society, can we still defend a legal system that puts bereaved families through so many months of uncertainty and turmoil?

“We have to find a way to stop the months of anguished waiting for families in these traumatic circumstances."

Mrs Low’s sister, Frances Darling, also maintained that the Scottish justice system is failing victims' families.

She said: “Our family has been forced into the litigation process in an attempt to speed up the compensation claim because the Scottish justice system has failed to put our family at the centre of what they do.

"I am strongly of the mind that this is an unacceptable position in today's society."

CTC, Pedal on Parliament and Road Share are among organisations that are campaigning for the law to be changed so that onus of liability is placed on the driver.

A bill is due to go before the Scottish Parliament later this year.

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