DRIVERS should automatically be held responsible for crashes with cyclists, according to a campaigner.

Paul Avison, vice chairman of the Colchester Cycling Campaign, has called for a law change.

It comes after Essex Police figures show crashes involving cyclists resulting in serious injuries or death rose 16 per cent last year.

Mr Avison wants the collisions to be treated in law as “strict liability” offences, meaning the motorist would be responsible, regardless of culpability.

But a senior traffic officer has described his idea as “totally flawed”.

Mr Avison said: “The most vulnerable road user should be protected.”

He claimed drivers would take more care if they knew they would be blamed if there was a crash.

He said: “I don’t think people should be worried about cycling.

“The health benefits outweigh the risks and there are a lot more people cycling.

“Things in Colchester have gone from bad to better for cyclists, but an awful lot more needs to be done.”

Mr Avison was backed by campaign group chairman, Professor Steffen Boehm, who said: “I believe this is the law in other European countries and that’s where the idea came from.

“I think it is a good idea because at the moment the law is slightly set against cyclists.”

But Inspector Steve Brewer, of Stanway traffic unit, said “In my opinion, it is totally flawed from the word go.

“We don’t work like that.

“We have to approach a scene with an open mind, gather the facts and evidence and speak to other witnesses and get verification of what’s happened.

“We could never turn up at collision involving a cyclist with the starting point being the motorist is at fault here.

“It would skew the investigation and it is a lawful requirement that we have to investigate and gather the evidence.

“Then we look at a way forward to see if someone needs to go on a driving course or go to the courts.”

Insp Brewer said in Essex, between April and August 2012 there were 37 incidents involving cyclists killed or seriously injured.

During that same period last year, there were 53.

Insp Brewer said the Essex figures reflected the national picture that incidents were on the rise.

However he said more cyclists were on the roads following enthusiam sparked by the 2012 Olympics and Tour de France.