Crash damages rider admits group risk

Liability disputed for £370,000 damages

The Scottish cyclist who is suing a fellow rider for damages over injuries sustained in a group ride crash admitted yesterday that riding in a group involves a degree of risk.

John Telfer sustained crushed vertebrae in a crash on 15 June, 2003 that he claims was caused by Gordon Macpherson losing control of his bike because he had not been holding the handlebars properly.  

Telfer told the Edinburgh Court of Session yesterday that group riding could be dangerous, but that the risk was reduced to a “minimum” by the skill and experience of your fellow riders. He said that he believed he had been "a victim or casualty of someone's neglect.

"In most things you do, there is an element of risk," said Telfer.

Andrew Hajducki QC, acting for Gordon Macpherson, said that riders voluntarily took on the risk of accidents and injuries by riding sufficiently closely that there was no stopping distance between them.

"It is a risk you take on because you want to take part in runs like this," Hajducki  asked Telfer.

"In a sociable group, yes," Telfer replied.

Telfer maintained that the accident was preventable “if the proper riding position and proper hand position was being adopted.

"If I thought I was in anyway to blame for the accident, I would not be standing here today. I think I am a victim or casualty of someone's neglect."

Macpherson lost control of his bike when he hit a manhole cover while sprinting to catch his son Colin, who was also at the front of the nine-rider group. Other riders in the group also fell. Telfer hit the verge while taking evasive action.

Damages have been agreed at £370,000 but liability is disputed.

Telfer was paralysed for months in the aftermath of the crash, and was subsequently retired from the Scottish prison Service on medical grounds.

The case continues.

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