A reported rise in the number of cyclist road offences in Scotland could prompt questions about the risk of accident claims as more riders take to the roads.
The number of cyclists stopped by the police for road offences is up by a quarter over the past three years, according to figures obtained by The Herald under Freedom of Information laws.
Fines issued to cyclists in the Edinburgh area have almost doubled since 2010, the statistics show.
Fixed penalty notices
Lothian and Borders police issued a total of 193 fixed-penalty notices to cyclists in 2012/13, just before the creation of Scotland’s single force, an increase from just 99 two years earlier and 119 in 2011/12.
The £30 fines can apply to offences such as cutting through red lights or riding on the pavement.
Although Police Scotland were unable to provide figures for other former force areas due to different methods of recording the data, separate statistics covering “reported cycling offences” in Scotland showed a 24% increase from 298 in 2010/11 to 369 in 2012/13.
Other cycling offences
The offence of “carelessly or inconsiderately riding a bicycle” rose more than any other, almost doubling from 50 to 96, while dangerous riding offences were up by a third from 27 to 36.
There was a 14% fall, however, in the number of cyclists caught drunk at the handlebars from 44 down to 38.
The biggest proportion of offences – 199 – fell within the “other” category.
Accident claims risk increasing?
Efforts are underway to increase cycling in Scotland given the individual and wider benefits it can offer, though an increase in road users of any kind may raise questions about the road traffic accident risk in general and a potential increase in bicycle injury compensation claims in particular.
The Scottish Government wants 10% of journeys to be taken by bike by 2020 – a significant rise from the current total of around 1-2%, although estimates suggest that in Edinburgh it is already as high as 7.5%.
Neil Greig, director of policy for the Institute of Advanced Motoring, said motorists will be reassured that an increase in the number of cyclists has been matched by a rise in prosecutions.
He said cyclists have to “exercise responsibility” in order to become established as a mainstream form of transport.
“For me, it shows that the police are aware of cycling casualties and they’re reacting to that. Motorists often feel that cyclists get away with bad behaviour, whether its cutting through red lights or putting themselves at risk in other ways,” he suggested.
‘All road users share responsibility’
AA president Edmund King said a rise in cycling would naturally be accompanied by a rise in offences, although he described the increase in Lothian and Borders as “quite striking”.
He added: “The crucial thing is whether that’s down to increased policing or more offences taking place.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to blame one group or another. All road users have a responsibility to abide by the highway code, whether that’s cyclists cutting through red lights at junctions or motorists texting at the wheel.”
Source: The Herald