The claimant was cycling along a cycle path in the dark and hit a bollard designed to prevent cars entering the path from the opposite side.
The bollard was next to a street light, which was not working.
There was no reflective strip on the bollard. All bollards installed since at least 2000 had reflective strips. This bollard was at least 25 years old. The council fitted reflectors after the accident. There had been no previous recorded complaints or accidents.
The light had been reported out four days before the accident and it was down for a non-priority repair, which was within 14 days of report.
In evidence, the defendants’ witnesses accepted that unlit, in the dark, this bollard was a hazard. The street lighting manager accepted that, had he known of the particular hazards at the location, he would probably have treated this as an urgent repair.
When asked why he did not know, he said that this was a matter for the Highways Dept, not street lighting. He admitted in evidence that there was no system of sharing information between departments, nor was there any system of being able to identify street lights that should be repaired as a priority – unless someone told them when it was reported.
The judge found that this was a negligent system. There was an adequate system of reporting, inspection and repair otherwise, but this inability to identify where a hazard may arise was not good enough.
It was not considered to be negligent to not fit a reflective strip to the old bollard.
Contrib’ was assessed at 20 per cent as the claimant accepted that his own bike light would have illuminated the bollards from 6-8 feet away, and there would have come a point where they would have been visible to him. He had also cycled this route on at least 80 occasions prior to the accident.
No allegations had been raised re contrib’ for failing to wear a cycling helmet, but the judge indicated that, even if they had been, she would not allow the argument as there is no statutory requirement to wear a helmet.
This story has also been published on our Cycle Accidents page.
Kilby v Peterborough County Council
Highways act and inspections
In this case a Judge found that, even though the defendant could prove through documents that the accident site had been inspected one month before the accident, the failure to bring oral evidence from the relevant inspector meant that evidence carried less weight than the claimant’s lay evidence and photos suggesting the area was in such disrepair that it could be inferred the tripping hazard had been missed at inspection and that the inspector had missed it.
The Judge found the defendant could not prove their defence under section 58 in the face of this evidence.
This shows the importance of calling your star witnesses – the defendant had a Head of Highways and also one of their Highways Inspectors but crucially, however, the relevant Inspector above did not attend the trial as it was understood he had left the employment of South Tyneside MBC.
The claimant’s witnesses were three residents of the street in which he tripped.
Bradley -v- South Tyneside MBC, Newcastle upon Tyne CC, DJ Stapeley