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Cycling Lane on the road in UK

Monday, September 18, 2017

Survey reveals more needs to be done for disabled cyclists

A recent national survey carried out by London based charity support group, Wheels for Wellbeing, has found that a large number of disabled cyclists are using their cycles as a mobility aid.

The survey gathered data on the views and experiences of 221 individuals from across the UK, focusing on the frequency of individuals cycling, the reasons for cycling and experiences surrounding this.

Health benefits for disabled cyclists

In addition to the large number of those using cycles as a mobility aid, 69% of individuals surveyed found cycling easier than walking.

Wheels for Wellbeing report that this is often the case for disabled individuals as cycling reduces joint strains, aids balance and alleviates breathing difficulties.

Through this, the charity aims to gain legal recognition for cycles being used as a mobility aid, similar to wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

Barriers for disabled cyclists

The need for legal recognition for cycles being used as a mobility aid is highlighted by the survey, with 1 in 3 individuals being asked to dismount their cycle in a pedestrianised area, despite using it as a mobility aid.

Cost of non-standard bikes hindering disabled cyclists

Further need for inclusivity and easier access to cycles is also noted within the survey as one of the main barriers to disabled cyclists is the sheer cost of non-standard cycles.

1 in 10 disabled cyclists were unable to obtain a cycle through the existing Cycle to Work scheme as their non-standard cycle exceeded the limit of £1,000 set out by the scheme. This shows that there is a need to ease the access to non-standard cycles for disabled individuals to allow them to experience the benefits of cycling.

Speed bumps not suited for disabled cyclist

Another barrier which was reported within the survey is inaccessible cycling infrastructure. Individuals reported that they have been unable to cycle due to barriers and speed bumps on cycle paths and roads.

Inadequate facilities for non-standard bikes

Several individuals also faced issues when taking their cycles on public transport. In addition to this, 36% of those surveyed reported being unable to park or store a non-standard cycle due to inadequate facilities.

More support for disabled cyclists needed

The results of the survey, the charity reports, challenge some widely held assumptions about disabled people and cycling. Encouragingly, however, 57% of respondents said that they have received positive comments by people passing by when they were out cycling.

Despite this, there is still a clear need for further research to be carried out in this area highlighted within the report. Campaigning to reduce assumptions about disabled cyclists is still needed as unfortunately 36% had encountered abuse or a disability related hate crime while cycling.

While the charity, which supports disabled people from all impairment groups, is continuously campaigning to challenge assumptions in this area, there is a clear need for this to be widened throughout various services in the UK.

Through such a campaign, it is hoped that access to cycling for disabled individuals can be encouraged and promoted. This would enhance the lives of many disabled individuals can be enhanced through cycling and the many social, physical and practical benefits that it brings.

Written by Laura McManus
Associate at Digby Brown

Laura McManus, Associate Lawyer at Digby Brown


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Healthcare entitlements in Europe: now and post Brexit

At the moment, the United Kingdom is still classed as part of the EU which means if you have an accident abroad or fall ill on holiday in another EU state, you are entitled to the same healthcare treatment that a resident of that country would receive in a medical emergency.

This entitlement also extends to non-EU states forming part of European Economic Area (EEA) including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. 

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

In practice, access to healthcare in Europe is through the presentation of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For those holidaying within Europe, we would strongly advise obtaining such a card and keeping it in-date.

You can apply for a card, free of charge, by using the online form.

Ordinary UK residents entitled to EHIC

Entitlement to an EHIC is not based on a person’s nationality but instead whether or not they are insurable under EU law.

The UK operates a residency-based healthcare system which means that insurability in the UK is generally determined by residency - and not by the past or present payment of National Insurance contributions or UK taxes.

The upshot is that if you are ordinarily resident in the UK then it is likely that you will be considered to be insured by the UK under EU law and will be entitled to a UK EHIC.

Many Brits missing out on free foreign healthcare

Despite the EHIC being free and enabling us to access foreign healthcare at a significantly discounted rate, a considerable proportion of UK residents do not carry an EHIC at all or carry expired cards which would not help them if they needed access to medical treatment abroad.

Travel insurance is still important

Of course, given that the EHIC only entitles the individual to free, state provided, emergency care on the same basis as a resident of the country in question, it is recommended that it is used alongside travel insurance.

Failure to take out travel insurance could leave you personally liable to a treatment centre or hospital for significant treatment costs not covered by the EHIC.

If I have travel insurance, do I still need the EHIC?

Many UK residents bypass the EHIC in favour of travel insurance but arguably, this is not a sensible approach. Your travel insurance could turn out to be void, expired or your insurer could refuse to indemnify you for treatment costs due to a failure to disclose relevant information.

In the circumstances where the insurer refuses to indemnify you, the basic cover provided by the EHIC is of vital importance.

Further, many UK tourists take the risk of travelling without insurance or find it to be an unnecessary expense on the assumption that they will receive emergency treatment at their EEA destination - again in those circumstances the EHIC scheme provides UK travellers with some comfort.

Of course, travel insurance may offer additional non-health related protection such as cover for lost luggage. You should always check the main terms of your travel insurance to ensure that it provides enough cover and covers the type of activities you intend to participate in while on holiday such as using jet skis. Specific policies may be required for certain activities, such as winter sports.

Uncertainties for British tourists post Brexit

At this stage it is unknown how Brexit will impact on the continued level of protection for ordinary UK residents when holidaying in EU or EAA countries.

For example, as a result of EU Law, UK citizens injured abroad in road traffic accidents can currently bring an injury claim against a foreign insurer in the UK without having to negotiate the hurdles of foreign lawyers and legal systems.

Similarly, a question mark exists over EHIC cover after Brexit. If EHIC cover is not continued, it has been argued by some commentators that UK residents may face increases in travel insurance costs. Travel insurers are likely to argue that this is necessary as they will need to cover the cost of the treatment that is currently available free of charge under the EHIC.

Under the EHIC, the EEA member state providing treatment can claim back the cost from the country whose citizen accessed it. It was reported in 2016 that the UK pays more than £670m to EU countries for Brits' healthcare abroad, while claiming back less than £50m.

Therefore, given that most other EEA members appear to benefit from these reciprocal arrangements, it is suggested that EU negotiators may wish to agree to continue the EHIC or a similar scheme post Brexit.

It could also be argued during negotiation that loss of this emergency treatment provision in Europe may encourage some UK tourists to stay at home or travel to a non-EEA destination such as America. If this were to happen, it would have knock on economic effects for EEA states who currently benefit from high numbers of UK visitors.

However, as it stands there is no agreement on this and UK tourists have to be prepared for the loss of this healthcare entitlement at some point over the course of the next couple of years or during any transitional period that post-dates Brexit.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Glasgow solicitors climb Ben Lomond for MacMillan

Our Glasgow office, along with family and friends, climbed Ben Lomond in aid of MacMillan on Saturday 9th September raising £3,400.

Glasgow team climbing Ben Lomond for Macmillan

Fraser Ewing, Head of Business Intelligence at Digby Brown, raised an incredible £676 alone for MacMillan with the help of his local football club, Barrhead Youth, where he is a coach. At a recent gala dinner, they raised sponsorship funds for Fraser – which resulted in Fraser shaving off his beloved beard.

Fraser Ewing, IT at Digby Brown Glasgow, climbing Ben Lomond with Glasgow team

MacMillan Cancer Support was nominated by lawyers and support staff in Digby Brown’s Glasgow office as their charity partner. What this essentially means is that the office will fundraise throughout the year solely to support MacMillan. Last year the office supported Finding Your Feet and raised an incredible £16,800 for the charity.

Digby Brown Glasgow team before climbing Ben Lomond for Macmillan

Digby Brown Glasgow office: “We are honoured to support MacMillan Cancer Support this year, a local charity that is close to our hearts here in Glasgow. We really enjoyed taking on Ben Lomond to raise money for a great charity – and look forward to further fundraising events.”

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