Joggers in cycle lanes

Joggers in cycle lanes

What is the legal position when approaching joggers using on-road cycle lanes? They seem to insist on running with their backs to the traffic, ignoring the pavement only inches from them. They move slowly and unpredictably and are definitely a hazard. Please advise.

Alan Fogg

Rule 1 of the Highway Code states that pedestrians should use pavements if they have been provided. Rule 2 states that if there is no pavement, then pedestrians should keep to the right-hand side of the road so they can see oncoming traffic.

Cycle lanes are intended to improve road safety but as John Franklin points out in his book, Cyclecraft, the presence of cycle lanes can increase the risks for cyclists. There is no obligation on cyclists to use cycle lanes; they should only be used when it is safer to do so.

I can sympathise with Mr Fogg’s comments about joggers using cycle lanes. In my view, this is a dangerous practice that only increases the risk to cyclists. As Mr Fogg points out, joggers may not always run in a straight line. This means that an overtaking cyclist can be forced to swerve into the main highway, particularly if another cyclist in front swerves around the jogger at the last moment.

In theory, a pedestrian or jogger who uses a cycle lane when there is a pavement available could be prosecuted for an offence of obstructing traffic. In practice, this would be unlikely. However, if an accident were to occur and a cyclist suffered injury as a consequence of the actions of the pedestrian/jogger, then there could be civil liability.

A court is unlikely to find a jogger/pedestrian negligent, and thus liable to compensate the cyclist, if he or she was running in a straight line and was there to be seen. If the jogger was running along a cycle lane on a road with significant traffic flow and numerous cyclists and was responsible for causing a collision, it is likely that a court would make a finding of negligence.

One of the difficulties of pursuing claims against pedestrians is their ability to meet a judgment. Claims against negligent motorists are satisfied by their insurers (or, if they are uninsured, the Motor Insurers Bureau). Pedestrians are often uninsured for their negligence when crossing the highway and this may therefore cause difficulties with enforcing any judgement obtained against them, particularly if they are impecunious.

Paul Kitson

 

This was first published in the August / September 2012 edition of CTC's Cycle magazine.

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