Can you claim for a cycle accident when riding up a one-way street?
Cyclists may not ride the wrong way along a one-way street unless the road is specifically designated two way for cyclists. Where this is the case, the street will be clearly signposted.
If you do cycle the wrong way and an accident occurs, it may still be possible to make a compensation claim. However, it may be harder to show that the other person was responsible for the accident, and you will probably receive a lower settlement to reflect the part you played.
One-way streets and the law
Cyclists are only allowed to travel the wrong up a one-way street where the road is two-way for bicycle riders but one way for motorists. These so-called cycling contraflow systems are being introduced in major cities to allow cyclists to use the quieter side streets and avoid the busy roads.
If the street is not designated two-way for cyclists, then it is illegal to ride the wrong way. Many side streets are too narrow for cyclists to ride safely against the traffic flow, and the heavy use of kerbside parking can force cyclists into the path of oncoming traffic. This increases the accident risk.
By knowingly riding the wrong way up a one-way street, the Court will consider that you acknowledge the greater risk of injury. This acknowledgement does not mean that the other party is "off the hook" for causing an accident, however.
Wrong-way street accident claims
If you are riding the wrong way up a one-way street and an accident occurs, it may still be possible to make a compensation claim.
It is likely that the other party will dispute liability. Car drivers would have no reason to expect that someone would be coming at them from the wrong direction, and may not have enough time to take evasive action.
Where an accident is caused by more than one person, the claim is usually dealt with using a split liability agreement. Blame is apportioned between the parties according to the role they played in the accident. For example, a driver may be held 75% responsible; the cyclist 25% responsible.
The Claimant would receive 75% of his compensation. The 25% reduction reflects the cyclist's own contributory negligence.
Cycling in the wrong direction - case study
In one recent case, a cyclist was travelling in the wrong direction along a one-way street. A taxi, coming the right way, hit the cyclist and she was thrown off her bicycle. She landed awkwardly on the road, dislocating her elbow.
The cyclist felt that the taxi driver had not exercised sufficient care and was to blame for the accident. She made a claim for compensation.
The taxi driver's insurance company initially did not accept liability. The fact that the cyclist had been riding the wrong way down a one-way street meant that the cyclist was at least partly to blame for her injuries. Had she been travelling the right way, they argued, then the accident probably would not have occurred.
After some negotiation, the parties reached a 50/50 settlement on liability. The cyclist accepted an award of £2,500.