Organised cycling, clubs and litigation.

toekneep

Senior Member
Location
Lancashire
AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH

So we have formed a club and everyone is really enthusiastic and enjoying the cycling enormously. We invited the Local Authority Cycling Development Officer to our second club meeting as his brief includes helping and encouraging cycling clubs.

Now don't get me wrong, he's a lovely chap and I know he's probably right but he poured cold water on just about everything we want to do. For example:

We thought it would be a good idea to have an evening in the village hall going over signals and calls when riding in a group and general guidance on group safety and etiquette.

No, can't do that unless the person leading the evening is a qualified ride leader with official training.

We thought it would be a good idea to hold a session showing novices how to fix a puncture, check your brakes, tyre pressures etc.

No, can't do that unless it is run by a fully trained cycle mechanic.

We thought it would be a good idea to have a couple of basic road bikes to loan to newcomers who only have shoppers or MTBs so that they could feel the difference as it were.

No, can't do that unless they are maintained by a fully qualified cycle mechanic.

We want to encourage members to plan rides and have a go at leading them with the support of more experienced club members.

No, can't do that unless they have level 2 leader training which includes route planning.

We are currently investigating a*se wiping courses so that we will be able to go to the toilet on our own when out on rides!

Does it really have to be so restrictive all because of the litigation culture? I'm fed up with it.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
One side of me says "We want cycling to be taken seriously by people therefore it needs to operate withing the same legal/judicial frameworks of other organised 'club' style activities"

One side of me says "No, can't do that unless" is Local Authority Employee speak for "I am extremely risk averse" which may or may not be a good thing "and given the potentially catastrophic impact were this risk to trigger then I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you don't go there"

(As Dellzeqq, who will be along in a minute, says Google +cyclist +£370000 +accident but I'll do it for you here)

You speak of a litigious culture but if you had life altering injuries in a bike crash caused by someone else not doing something right, and you had no other income other than meagre benefits you might feel differently.
 

RyanW

The abominable Bikeman
Location
Ashford, Kent
I suppose the council guy was airing on the side of caution, and to be fair he raised some good point. Although you may be competent, the laws are there to stop the people who arnt from doing it.

ask them to pay to get you / a mechanic certified
 
OP
toekneep

toekneep

Senior Member
Location
Lancashire
I don't think the guy is being difficult. He is encouraging us to seek funding for training but I'm concerned that he is overstating the risk of litigation.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
toekneep said:
I don't think the guy is being difficult. He is encouraging us to seek funding for training but I'm concerned that he is overstating the risk of litigation.
then as a free citizens of a free(ish) society it is your right to go for it if you wish. there is, after all, nothing anyone can do to stop you as nothing you wish to undertake is illegal. ill advised perhaps, in the view of our council chap, but they are notoriously risk averse as a rule.

it all goes well everyone will laud you for your drive and vision, it goes pete tong and you'll feel like you don't have a friend in the world.
 

dellzeqq

pre-talced and mighty
Location
SW2
I think the Council officer was completely and utterly wrong. Hundreds of cycle clubs have rides leaders, backed by insurance policies, who have never had any formal training. Thousands of Dr. Bike sessions are held by unqualified volunteers. There are thousands of routes for runs on club web pages and on Bikely, and few if any of those are posted by people with route training (wtf is that, by the way).

TK - is your club affiliated to BC or CTC? If not, then, frankly, you're in difficulty. Check out the link to the £370,000 case above.

If you're affiliated then go to whichever organisation you're with and ask for advice and help. There is, however, a big difference between the two.

If it's the CTC then go to Rob Fuller or Adrian Lawson and ask them to write a letter to this person. If it's BC you may struggle - post-Sky their attitude to clubs is far more restrictive.
 

shippers

Senior Member
Location
Sunny Wakefield
Get a big pile of legal disclaimers-
I borrow this cycle in the knowledge that it has not been service by a fully trained technician but choose to take my chances
I embark on this route in the knowledge tat we might get lost and end up in Batley

Insurance might be an idea, but then you're getting into the realms of mebership and the like. The alternative is probably to keep it simple.

I went out wih Calder Clarion at the weekend- the organisation was "Hi, are you guys going to York? Can I come? I'm Matt, by the way."
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
When I was organising my first ride on the old Cycling Plus forum I got really paranoid about the risk of being sued if someone got hurt. I started putting disclaimers in my posts but people thought I was being overcautious and stupid. Actually, I did too so I stopped doing it!

Now, I just tell people that my rides will be so many miles, over so many thousand feet of tough hills and expect riders to be sensible and not undertake something that is beyond their capabilities. So far, the system has worked but we've never gone beyond about 15 riders. I wouldn't want to take responsibility for many more than that.

I like the audax philosophy of every rider taking personal responsibility for his/her bike and getting home if they have a problem. It doesn't mean that we abandon anyone, but they shouldn't come out unable to fix a puncture or with a badly maintained bike.

I did check my home/contents insurance and I have substantial 3rd party and legal costs cover on that. Hopefully it will never be needed though...
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
toekneep said:
We want to encourage members to plan rides and have a go at leading them with the support of more experienced club members.

No, can't do that unless they have level 2 leader training which includes route planning.
Well, that's about 99% of the informal CC rides out then. I don't think any of the East Yorkshire posse have any training - I know I don't.

I dont have Dellzegg's 'professional' take, but my instinct is that most of what the chap said is over cautious rubbish. Insurance is probably a good idea, if you can arrange it.

With regard to the cycle mechanic stuff, I suspect there are a lot of people out there with a far wider and more instinctive knowledge of cycle mechanicals than some qualified people who can't cope if it's more than 10 years old, or a bit odd...
 
OP
toekneep

toekneep

Senior Member
Location
Lancashire
Sorry not to respond sooner. Our club is affiliated to BC and as I understand it club members and guests (for two or three rides I think) have third party insurance and club officials get protection when leading rides to back them if somebody claims against them. This officer knows all that but still went a bit over the top in my opinion. The more I have thought about it and the more I'm convinced he is actually covering his own back to be honest. I'm not having a go at the guy, he is genuinely supportive but as with all local government these days litigation is high on their priorities list.
 

gbs

Guru
Location
Fulham
toekneep said:
AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH

So we have formed a club and everyone is really enthusiastic and enjoying the cycling enormously. We invited the Local Authority Cycling Development Officer to our second club meeting as his brief includes helping and encouraging cycling clubs. ? I'm fed up with it.
I sympathise with yr frustration. We have to ask ourselves what is the value of the LACDO who wants to bureaucratise an informal volunteer based lesiure activity. Seems to me this a good example of wasted taxpayer money.

I suggest that you pursue the disclaimer route and ignore the suggested requirement for qualified advisors/leaders etc. Ultimately we, and no-one else, must take total responsiblity for ourselves, when pursuing leisure activities unless money has changed hands in what is essentially a business arrangement. In that case the service provider has a duty of care and qualifictions are relevant because, having paid a fee, punters are entitled to an assurance of competence.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
gbs said:
Ultimately we, and no-one else, must take total responsiblity for ourselves, when pursuing leisure activities unless money has changed hands in what is essentially a business arrangement. In that case the service provider has a duty of care and qualifictions are relevant because, having paid a fee, punters are entitled to an assurance of competence.
Whilst I might tend to agree with you, the courts are often of the view that

a) no money need change hands for a duty of care to exist and

:smile: that assurance of competance needs to be guaranteed.

In another life I'm a Rugby Union referee. Injured players sue referees. Rugby Union referee's at the level I'm talking about do not get paid but they provide a service and have a duty of care.
 
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