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World champion Mark Cavendish has said that the UK should introduce laws similar to those in the Netherlands and Belgium that place a presumption of liability on motorists involved in a road traffic incident in which a cyclist is killed or injured.
Road Safety Minister Mike Penning has responded by saying that such legislation would be “unfair” on responsible drivers.
Cavendish was speaking to The Times, giving his backing to its Cities fit for Cycling campaign, and was asked to give examples of countries where he believed there was a greater culture of safe cycling than in the UK.
“In Holland and Belgium the actual law is if the driver of a motorised vehicle has an accident with a cyclist, unless the driver can actively prove it was the cyclist’s fault it is the driver’s fault. There is an assumption of guilt on the driver,” he told the newspaper.
“I would like to see it examined, for sure. Cyclists can be in the wrong a lot of the time. They have got to ride within the law… but if people know there is a problem if they hit a cyclist they will look more, they have to be more aware of cyclists.”
The Team Sky rider also revealed that there are times when he is afraid to cycle on Britain’s roads – echoing comments previously made by other of the country’s leading cyclists, including world and Olympic track champion, Victoria Pendleton.