Support the Cyclists’ Defence Fund
The Cyclists’ Defence Fund (CDF) 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 the Cyclists’ Touring Club or CTC) became concerned after the driver’s insurers responded to Darren’s claim for damages by seeking to reduce Darren’s compensation, claiming contributory negligence because Darren was not 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.
More recently, the CDF has been supporting Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea (BetterStreets4KC) as they issued a judicial review challenging the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. One element of which pointed out that its refusal to reinstate the lane was irrational. Incredibly the council had ignored the available evidence - the limited data it had collected indicated that the cycle lane had, in fact, been beneficial. The case continues in January.
Along with Tom Bosanquet, one of Cycling UK’s members, with financial support and advice for his legacy case when he was being wrongly prosecuted for inconsiderate cycling for delaying traffic for a matter of seconds.
Currently, you can only use a mere 22% of England’s rights of way network. This is wrong – they should be accessible to everyone. When the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Natural England announced a new National Trail running from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire, cycling and horse riding was overlooked, so we took action to challenge the two organisations to revisit their decision. It has had the desired impact and now they have committed to consult with us. Plus we are hearing about more National Parks where cycling could be a criminal offence, we need your support and donations to ensure cycling is not restricted in our National Parks.
Some of the cases in which the CDF has been involved
- We challenged the City of London’s decision not to introduce a 20mph speed limit, arguing that the City’s decision was based on incorrect information; the City backed down before the case went to trial.
- We backed Daniel Cadden through his trial for ‘inconsiderate cycling’ and supported the successful appeal of his conviction for the offence. Cadden was prosecuted for holding up traffic after he chose to cycle in the road rather than cross a 50mph road twice to reach an off-carriageway cycle track.
- We helped prepare a legal challenge to the Department for Transport’s proposed revisions to the Highway Code, which had the potential to leave cyclists open to both civil and criminal prosecutions if they did not use cycle facilities for any reason. The threat of legal action persuaded ministers to clarify in the wording that the use of cycle facilities is not compulsory.
- We supported the case of Alex Paxton who was given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for failing to stop at a red light when he positioned himself ahead of a stop line because the cycle box had been blocked by a car. Alex contested the FPN and the CPS dropped the case.
- We supported the case of Kristian Gregory who was given an FPN for riding on the pavement when he strayed from a sub-standard cycle path. CDF supported Kristian’s claim that prosecuting him was not in the public interest and that the contradictory signage at the location made it impossible to tell what is legal. The CPS dropped the case.
- We brought a private prosecution following the death of Michael Mason. The judge accepted that there was a case to answer, and therefore that we were right to bring the case. Even though the driver was subsequently acquitted, bringing the case highlighted and brought attention to various failures in the way the criminal justice system sometimes deals with cases involving cyclists.
- We challenged West Sussex County Council’s decision to remove a popular cycle lane in the seaside town of Shoreham in November 2020. The council admitted it acted illegally following a judicial review supported by the CDF and was ordered to pay £25k in costs to Cycling UK.
- We contributed £2,500 to support Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea’s legal challenge against the borough council in July 2022, following the removal of the Kensington High Street cycle lane. The case is set to go to trial.
- We supported Tom Bosanquet, one of our members, with financial support and advice for his legacy case when he was being wrongly prosecuted for inconsiderate cycling for delaying traffic for a matter of seconds. The CPS saw sense in dropping the case.
- The announcement of the a new National Trail that excluded cycling and horse riding has become our latest challenge with a Pre-Action Protocol letter submitted jointly with British Horse Society, which set out the legal grounds and demonstrated all the ways in which the decision was unlawful. Another win as they have now committed to consult with both charities.