CYCLING campaigners have brought what is believed to be the UK's first private prosecution for causing death by careless driving. The case, which was heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court and has been passed to the Crown Court, is the latest indicator of the frustration felt by cyclists about a perceived leniency when it comes to pursuing criminal charges against motorists involved in collisions with bike users.

Previous research by Cycle Law Scotland found that despite, nine cyclists being killed and 902 injured on Scotland's roads in 2012, charges were brought in regard to just 55 incidents. The group is spearheading a bid to introduce presumed liability, which would automatically put the onus on a driver to prove that the cyclist – as the more vulnerable road user – was at fault.

The English case relates to the death of retired teacher Michael Mason in February, 2014. Mr Mason, 70, suffered a fatal head injury after being knocked from his bike by a black Nissan while cycling along Regent Street in London.

The Metropolitan Police investigated but ultimately decided against bringing charges against 58-year-old Gail Purcell, prompting the Cyclists' Defence Fund to raise £60,000 to bankroll a private prosecution against Ms Purcell on a causing-death-by-careless-driving charge.

The case will heard at Southwark Crown Court next month. Ms Purcell has indicated that she intends to plead not guilty.

The case comes six months after the UK's first ever private prosecution for dangerous driving, again involving a cyclist, ended in acquittal. The jury at Isleworth Crown Court rejected the allegation that former driving instructor Aslan Kayardi had endangered cyclist Martin Porter by overtaking him "too fast and too close" in his Audi sports car.

Mr Kayardi, who had a clean driver's licence and no previous convictions or police cautions, said Mr Porter had been holding up traffic by cycling in the middle of the lane and that he overtook safely to deter another driver trying to overtake him and the cyclist together.

Defence lawyers also accused Mr Porter, a QC nicknamed the "cycling Silk" for representing several victims of cycling accidents, of seeking publicity.

The latest case comes as the Court of Session in Edinburgh considers whether to make Scottish legal history by granting private prosecutions against drivers Harry Clarke and William Payne in regard to two separate fatal crashes in Glasgow.

It also comes amid ongoing and highly charged debates about segregated cycleways in Edinburgh and East Dunbartonshire.

Edinburgh City Council has postponed a final decision on the design of the Roseburn section of its city-wide cycleway after conceding the issue had become "too polarised", while the latest public meeting on the A81 Bears Way route in Bearsden and Milngavie became so acrimonious that the police were called.

Although most road users support building segregated cycle tracks (71 per cent according to a 2015 YouGov survey) and the evidence suggests they would significantly cut cyclist-vehicle collisions, many seem reluctant to give up the road space on their doorstep.

Surely practical infrastructure is a better way of making Scotland's roads safer for all than expensive and labyrinthine legal manoeuvres?