Fighting injustice and standing up for cyclists

The work of the Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) continues to fund legal advice for cyclists, support other legal challenges, and stand up for cycling, cyclists and those who might cycle. Cycling UK's Head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore explains why CDF needs your support

Earlier this week, I read a post on Twitter by someone who’d been driving over the Snake Pass in Derbyshire when they witnessed someone driving a van who was attempting to knock two cyclists off their bikes during a road rage incident. They'd asked Derbyshire Constabulary if they could be called as a witness if the cyclists had reported the incident to the police.

It made me think about what I do when I see someone breaking the law whilst i'm out driving or cycling. The honest answer is that usually I sigh and let things pass, but sometimes I do say something, or question somebody, and on one occasion I was perhaps less than diplomatic when I caught up with someone at the lights who’d been multi-tasking as he close-passed me while driving his car – he was shaving and speaking on a hand-held mobile whilst steering with his knees!

Fighting for cyclists and cycling

What would you do if you happened to be next to a driver who appeared so engrossed in conversation while on their phone that they were oblivious to what was going on around them?

Would you politely reminded them that they shouldn’t be on a hand-held device whilst driving?

Would you expect to be the focus of a police investigation to determine whether you were guilty of inconsiderate cycling because you'd momentarily delayed another driver who then drove through a red light?

I certainly wouldn’t, but we're currently supporting a cyclist who is being persued by the police for doing just that, despite capturing the incident on camera. Decisions like this can put people off cycling.

That’s why it’s so important that Cycling UK’ s Cyclists Defence Fund (CDF) is there to stand up and fight for cyclists, cycling, and those who might cycle in the future.

Sometimes, initial advice and support or perhaps a few emails or calls is all that’s needed to resolve matters. In others, like the one described above, CDF pays for legal advice or representation. But inevitably what we can do is limited by resource and capacity, as all of CDF’s work is funded through the incredibly generous donations of members and supporters. 


Donate to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund 

Darren Coombes

It’s worth pausing at this stage to remember that the Fund was initially established in response to the case of Darren Coombes, a nine-year-old cyclist who suffered brain damage from a collision with a motorist. 

Cycling UK (then known as CTC, the Cyclists’ Touring Club) became concerned after the driver’s insurers responded to Darren’s claim for damages by seeking to reduce his compensation, claiming contributory negligence because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.  Although the insurer’s claim was ultimately defeated, CDF was formed in the aftermath to defend cyclists in similar precedent-setting cases. And we’ve been fighting ever since.

Challenging unlawful decisions

Occasionally CDF’s work is high profile and in the news, as it was when, earlier this year, Cycling UK took West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to court and WSCC was forced to admit that it had acted unlawfully when removing the popular cycle lane along Upper Shoreham Road in Shoreham.

But the work still carries on after the headlines have faded so in Shoreham, for example, we’re still liaising with the fantastic local campaign group Shoreham By Cycle to try and ensure that something positive comes out of this for local people – hopefully a permanent cycle lane!

Supporting other groups and cases

On other occasions CDF’s work supports others to challenge decisions, so we’ve provided advice and financial support to another superb local group, Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea to help them pursue their judicial review of the decision the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea took to remove the cycle lane on Kensington High Street. We’re expecting that case to be listed for trial later this year.

So, since the Shoreham case ended earlier this year, CDF has continued to support individuals challenging injustice, and local groups concerned about infrastructure decisions which create barriers to more people cycling, rather than enabling people to do so.

Of course, many people also want to ride for leisure off-road, which becomes more difficult when decisions are made restricting off-road access for people cycling, so we’re also awaiting legal advice on a decision affecting off-road access for cyclists, which we’ll provide more details about shortly.

Help us stand up for cycling and cyclists

If you are involved in, or aware of, a legal case relating to cycling, whether civil or criminal, which you believe potentially poses a significant risk of injustice or may set a dangerous legal precedent, please contact us.

We can’t guarantee to support every case, because how much we can do depends on funding and resources as well as the merits of each case, but we will always listen and see what we can do to improve the safety of all cyclists or enable more people to cycle.

If you’d like to help us keep doing this, so we can stand up for more cyclists, fight injustice, and respond to the requests and cases which really deserve our help and support, please donate to CDF today.


Donate to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund 


Whether you give a single gift or set up a monthly donation, any donation will go towards our designated legal fund, set aside as a ‘fighting fund’ for legal action and cases.

Sharing the gift of cycling

I was extremely lucky as a teenager to discover the gift of cycling with Bury CTC, and that’s been a gift that’s kept on giving for 40 years. If you’re reading this and, like me, you’ve benefitted from the gift of cycling, a donation to CDF might be a fitting way to pass on that gift to someone else, because someone needs to keep on standing up for cycling and cyclists.

Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund

The CDF specifically helps fight significant legal cases involving cyclists and cycling, especially those which could set important precedents for the future and could affect the safety of all cyclists. Over time, its remit has expended to cover all aspects of cycling and the law and is now funded through your donations.

Your donation will go towards our designated legal fund, set aside as a 'fighting fund' for legal action and cases.


Donate to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund