Crash cyclist loses compensation case

A cyclist who was claiming damages from another rider he blames for an accident has lost his case.

Mr John Telfer of East Calder, West Lothian, was part of a group of cycling enthusiasts who regularly met for road cycling outings. He filed a case for compensation from Gordon Macpherson, another member of the group, after he was seriously injured from a crash pile up he claims Mr Macpherson caused.

Mr Telfer aged 49, sustained serious injuries to his head and spine in the accident which occurred on the B8020 road near Winchburgh in West Lothian on 15 June 2003.

Mr Macpherson lost control of his bike after hitting a manhole. Other members of the group of nine riders fell as well as Mr Telfer and Mr Macpherson. Mr Telfer claimed that at the time of the accident Mr Macpherson did not have proper control of his bike because of the way he was holding his hands and as a result they slipped off the handlebars making him lose control. He claimed that the accident would have been prevented if not for Mr Macpherson’s negligence and was claiming £370,000 in compensation from him.

Edinburgh Court of Session heard from Mr Telfer that riding close to other bicycles could be dangerous but he said the risk was reduced to a minimum by the experience and skill of those cycling in the group, he told the jury: “In most things you do, there is an element of risk.” He said that after recovering from his injuries he went back to the scene of the accident and decided that it must have been caused by Mr Macpherson’s carelessness. “I have said this a few times to many people, that the accident was preventable if the proper riding position and proper hand position was being adopted,” he said.

Mr Macpherson’s lawyer Andrew Hajducki QC, stated that bike riders voluntarily took on a risk of accidents and injuries by cycling without sufficient stopping distance between them and therefore Mr Macpherson was not liable for Mr Telfers injuries.

After 90 minutes of deliberating the jury returned a verdict rejecting the claim by a majority of eight to four. Judge Lord Menzies told them that the system depended on members of the public bringing their “collective commonsense” to such cases.