FEBRUARY 21, 2005 -- BRUSSELS, Belgium (BRAIN)--The European Union, now 25 nations strong, may be on the verge of shaking motorists out of the unconscious fog some seem to be in when driving into cyclists and pedestrians. The method: slap 'em in their pocketbooks, where it may actually hurt.
The European Two-Wheel Retailers' Association (ETRA), reports that a bill making motorists automatically liable in an accident with cyclists and pedestrians has passed the European Parliament and will soon be before the European Council, the union's main decision- making body. If the council adopts it, all member nations will within the next two years have to pass similar laws guarantee cyclists compensation if they are involved in a crash with a motorized vehicle.
"In ETRA's view, assuring non-motorized road users of damages is making a clear signal to motorized users. Many accidents happen because of the dominant attitude of motorized users, as a result of which they seriously lack attention for non-motorized users. This attitude needs to change in order to get priorities right," said Annick Roetynck, the association's secretary general.
Holland, Belgium and several other countries already have similar legislation in place, and, ETRA observed, it "proves to considerably improve the relation between cyclists and motorists." Those countries' legislation has not sent insurance rates skyrocketing or resulted in outlandish claims, Roetynck said.
ETRA and many of its 6,000 retail store members lobbied for the legislation, arguing that cyclists and pedestrians are more exposed to injury and suffer fatality rates five to six times higher than motorists'.