'Liability' refers to councils or highway authorities being found legally responsible for defective roads, or road design, that leads to injury or death. 

It can result in conservative road design and a reluctance to build new 'innovative' types of layout, or to permit certain types of traffic movement - typically those that are common and proven in countries like the Netherlands. 

However, Cycling Infrastructure Design (LTN 2/08) has this to say -

The Manual for Streets (DfT/CLG, 2007) acknowledges the reluctance of some authorities to implement innovative schemes or schemes that do not meet all safety criteria, for fear of litigation. However, the vast majority of claims against highway authorities relate to maintenance defects rather than deficiency in design. An authority should not be exposed to claims if there are robust design procedures in place where the resulting decisions are recorded in an audit trail. The Manual for Streets (DfT/CLG, 2007) suggests the following approach:

  • set clear and concise scheme objectives;
  • work up the design against these objectives; and
  • review the design against these objectives through a quality audit.