18 December 2018 | Firm news | Article by Cari Sowden-Taylor

“On ya bike” this Christmas? Cycling safety should remain top of mind

Cardiff’s residents will have noticed “nextbike” popping up all over the city in the past year. Following the success of the Santander Cycles in London, and similar to schemes in other cities the world over, nextbike allows users to hire a bike for as little as £1.

Nextbike works by customers registering for an account, either via the app or via the website or by calling their hotline. The account is linked with the customer’s credit or debit card. Once signed up, all the customer has to do is find a bike docking station, enter the number of the bike that they wish to hire on the app or call the hotline, and cycle away. Once the customer has completed their journey, they simply return the bike to another docking station and they will be automatically charged based on how long they have been cycling for.

With over 50 docking stations already in the city, and 65 stations set to be added in 2019, nextbike provides the public with accessible bikes for hire. The bikes also provide users with the opportunity to exercise and beat the traffic into work while reducing their carbon footprint. However, for all the advantages that netbike provides in keeping people active and helping to reduce pollution, are they really that safe, especially this festive period?

Over the next few weeks many of us will attend various Christmas drinks, dinners and parties. No doubt, alcohol will be consumed, and at the end of the night, we will all face the usual dilemma of how best to get home.

This year, nextbike joins the list of options to get us home, along with taxis, Ubers, buses, trains and walking. When the buses and trains have stopped running, your phone is out of battery and the queue for a taxi is up to an hour long in cold and the rain, nextbike may seem like the most appealing option –a quick fifteen minute cycle and you’ll be home safe and sound  in the warm and dry, or will you?

Aside from the fact that there is nothing in place to prevent users hiring a nextbike when under the influence (cycling when under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988), helmets are not provided. Every year, more than 38,000 cyclists and motorcyclists are killed or injured on UK roads and many of the injured sustain life-changing brain injuries. Yet, studies have suggested that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury by almost 70% and of general head injury by 51%.

Here at Hugh James, we urge everyone to think twice before hopping on a nextbike home, particularly if you have been drinking this Christmas. Though it may only be a quick pedal through the park, it’s a lot riskier when there may be ice or wet leaves on the ground and mulled wine is causing you to zigzag down the path.  This already potentially dangerous time to ride may then be made more dangerous by using a nextbike without a helmet.

Hugh James’ specialist Neurolaw solicitors represent many clients who have sustained brain injuries following cycling accidents. Visit our brain injury page for more information about making a claim for compensation following an accident. We work closely with charitable organisations such as Headway, The Silverlining and The Child Brain Injury Trust, which also provide tremendous support to individuals and families affected by brain injury.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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