The Cyclists’ Defence Fund was formed to fight significant legal cases involving cycling and cyclists, but its remit has since been broadened to cover all aspects of cycling and the law.
CDF was set up in 2001 by CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation in response to the case of Darren Coombes, a nine year old cyclist who suffered brain damage from a collision with a motorist. CTC became concerned after the driver’s insurers responded to Darren’s claim for damages by counter-suing his parents for contributory negligence because Darren was not wearing a helmet.
Although the insurer’s counter-claim was ultimately defeated, CDF was formed in the aftermath to defend cyclists in similar precedent-setting cases.
CDF has led the fight for cyclists’ rights. These are some examples of cases CDF has been involved with:
- We challenged the City of London’s decision not to introduce a 20 mph speed limit. CDF argued that the City’s decision was based on incorrect information, and the City backed down before the case went to trial.
- We backed Daniel Cadden through his trial for ‘inconsiderate cycling’ and supported the successful appeal of his conviction for the offence. Cadden was prosecuted for holding up traffic after he chose to cycle in the road rather than cross a 50mph road twice to reach an off-carriageway cycle track.
- We supported CTC in preparing a legal challenge to the Department for Transport’s proposed revisions to the Highway Code, which had the potential to leave cyclists open to both civil and criminal prosecutions if they did not use cycle facilities for any reason. The threat of legal action persuaded Ministers to clarify in the wording that the use of cycle facilities is not compulsory.
- We supported the case of Alex Paxton who was given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for failing to stop at a red light when he positioned himself ahead of a stop line because the cycle box had been blocked by a car. Alex contested the FPN and the CPS dropped the case.
- We supported the case of Kristian Gregory who was given a FPN for riding on the pavement when he strayed from a sub-standard cycle path. CDF supported Kristian’s claim that prosecuting him was not in the public interest and that the contradictory signage at the location made it impossible to tell what is legal. The CPS dropped the case.