You have featured several letters from cyclists and pressure groups promoting strict civil liability of motorists for accidents with cyclists ("Time to act on stricter liability", The Herald, October 26).

The quid pro quo of strict liability of cyclists for accidents with pedestrians is also proposed.

I walk very extensively in the city, and can choose when and how I interact with road traffic on my journey. With appropriate care for myself and consideration for others, that is generally a swift and safe process. The only significant exception involves cyclists, where reckless cycling on pavements, careless manoeuvres, and failure to stop at light-controlled junctions and pedestrian crossings, are a constant risk to pedestrians and other road users.

Strict liability of cyclists for pedestrians is of little real value unless backed by compulsory insurance and the display of visible, valid registration details. That would involve major administrative overheads and costs and, it is to be hoped, formal training and testing. Is this what is on offer?

I am a former cyclist and, as a car driver, give particular attention to the difficulties and vulnerability of cyclists. In recent years I can recall three significant events when cyclists, without signal or warning, suddenly moved into my path and could have been killed or severely injured had I not been able to take emergency avoiding action.

My awareness and caution will have contributed to avoiding collision, but timing, luck, and my not being distracted by other hazards, played a part.

In each case the cyclists were careless or reckless. In two cases they were teenagers seemingly lacking training and road sense; in two cases there were no witnesses and under strict liability it would have been difficult to defend an assumption of fault on my part.

Cyclists will experience aggressive and incompetent drivers. However, the majority of drivers are people of good intent, many of whom would suffer severe and lasting psychological trauma if they killed or seriously injured others in a road accident. That would be exacerbated if they are not at fault, but held liable because of lack of evidence.

We do need much better skills and behaviour from all road users. Better training and enforcement both have a part to play. But accident rates will best fall further by defensive driving and cycling: moderating speed to cope easily with the road and traffic conditions, and making allowance for your own mistakes and misjudgments as well as for those of others.

Particular consideration is required for vulnerable road users, but they, in turn, need to recognise their own vulnerability and exercise particular care.

The speed and behaviour of many cyclists, particularly in towns, needs some attention, as does their training and road skills. Strict liability legislation does not seem warranted at present.

It is not as equitable as established legal principles, nor is it particularly relevant: it is a single-sided proposal dealing with only one aspect of much wider and more significant issues which can be better addressed in a balanced, fair and more effective way.

Norman Dryden,

112 West Savile Terrace,