WILLIAM Neilson (Letters, July 9) is the latest to seek to overthrow the basic concept of our justice system that you are innocent until proven guilty. I understand that the introduction of strict liability for accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles, which he seeks, relates to civil rather than criminal law. But a motorist who collides with a cyclist would still face penalties if unable to prove their innocence. Increased insurance premiums, which can last for some years, are at very least as severe a penalty as a one-off criminal fine. Certainly motorists who drive dangerously should face a penalty, but only if they are proven to be guilty.

Maybe I am being cynical in thinking that many proponents of strict liability are uninsured cyclists seeking access to motorists’ insurance cover. But that, surely, is best addressed by making insurance compulsory for all cyclists wishing to cycle on public roads or cycle paths.

I agree that action is needed to improve the safety of cyclists, but this can easily be done by legislation. Legislation was needed to make the wearing of seat belts in cars compulsory. And it was needed to make motorcyclists wear appropriate helmets and to have their headlights on when in motion. Sensible cyclists already protect themselves by wearing cycle helmets and they also make sure they are seen by wearing high visibility jackets. They also have bright, steady front and rear lights which make them easily seen in poor light.

Sadly, far too many cyclists ignore these basic sensible measures, riding without a helmet and preferring dark clothing and pathetically dull flashing lights (or sometimes no lights at all). Just as idiot drivers and motor cyclists needed to be ordered to take sensible measures to make themselves safer, it seems that idiot cyclists need legislation to force them to protect themselves from their stupidity.

Alistair Easton, Edinburgh EH12.

HOW heartwarming it was to read that William Neilson (Letters, July 9) understands the power of the machine, ie his car, that he uses on the roads, with its ability, if handled wrongly, to maim and kill people. The UK is one of only give countries in Europe that has no system of presumed or strict liability and it is high time that this changed. We should not subject the families of people killed on our roads to the months, and sometimes years, of waiting to get any recompense or compensation for their loved one.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow G1.