Rise in number of cyclist accidents but why?

So the big news that has been making the rounds is the rise in the number of cyclist deaths:

  • Dramatic rise in cycling deaths and injuries – Waltham Forest
  • Sharp rise in number of cyclists killed on roads – Guardian
  • Cycle deaths and serious injuries rise 20 per cent – London Evening Standard
  • Cyclist deaths and injuries increase as more people take to the road – Times
  • David Prosser: Lazy motorists endangering cyclists – Telegraph Opinion
  • More cyclists killed or hurt on the roads – Telegraph
  • Number of cyclists killed on the roads soars as credit crunch transport gains popularity – Daily Mail


The story behind this is the Department for Transport has released figures showing a 19% increase in death or serious injury to cyclists from April to June of this year. This is compared to the same period in 2008. Add to that a rise of 7% to minor injuries.

Obviously as you can see from the headlines the finger of blame has been pointed in many directions. The CTC recons it is due to new and inexperienced cyclists taking to the roads. Though I find that a bit of a hard explanation to swallow. This would suggest that the responsibility lies mostly with the cyclist. Let’s not forget it is not the cyclist that is in possession of a vehicle with the potential to kill.

If you take a typical case such as David Prosser in the Telegraph then you can see there is little difference in what an experienced or inexperienced cyclist could do.

David was cycling along on his side of the road and the car failed to see him. Without indicating, the car turned right, straight into David’s path. Another case of “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”.

Or what about this recent video showing a bit of horrifically bad driving. I’m sure every cyclist can report their own cases of extreme stupidity.


Of course another thing to debate here is the severity of the fines. In David’s case the motorist got away with just a “driver awareness” course. This was after David pestered the police to do something.

It would be wrong of course to just criticise motorist behaviour. It is clear many cyclists are also rule breakers and often do not spend as much attention as they should do. However, it is also clear that the consequences are far more severe when it involves a motorists lack of attention compared to a cyclists.

The recent debate on London Cyclist raised the growing distaste at cyclists riding on pavements and going through red lights. So could this increase in deaths be attributed to so called anti-social cycling?  Recent statistics have shown that only 5% of accidents involved a cyclist passing a red light.

Whether it is poor infrastructure, motorists carelessness or new cyclists on the road let us hope this is just a blip in the statistics and the overall trend will point towards safer cycling.

If the safety in numbers research by the CTC is to believed then an increase in cyclists, like we are seeing now, will drastically reduce the amount of accidents. It is easy to see why. Amongst many contributing factors is that motorists become more aware of cyclists as they know more of them are around. We can only hope that figures such as these do not discourage new cyclists so that one day we could see the benefits of safety in numbers and perhaps this time next year we will be reporting on a drastic reduction of cyclist deaths.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.


7 Responses to Rise in number of cyclist accidents but why?

  1. Nick Hales 13/11/2009 at 3:14 pm #

    What we need is a code of conduct such as seamen take pride in – “steam gives way to sail”
    Sea captains seem to be aware they would face disdain and possible contempt if their ship crushed a yacht. They treat the seas like a gentleman’s playground. If we could persuade drivers to take up the same ethic we may make quicker progress

  2. Richard 17/11/2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Although I agree that there are some bad drivers out there, I’m a cyclist and motorcyclist and what you need is defensive riding. Its all very well pointing the finger at the motorist who has the potential to kill but that won’t save you. Advanced courses for motorcyclists teaches you to EXPECT to get knocked off (expect that the car driver hasn’t seen you) and then you ride to avoid it. I ride into central London (from Kent) every day and it never ceases to amaze me the risks that (some) cyclists take – the straight though a red light is a classic example, as well as the wrong way up one way streets.

    Ride safe.

  3. Andreas 17/11/2009 at 2:05 pm #

    It is also often called “assertive riding” – things such as claiming the lane and establishing frequent eye contact are all good idea. If anyone who reads this is wondering more about how to cycle safely then this site is really good: http://bicyclesafe.com/

  4. Maxell Rodgers 07/12/2009 at 3:52 pm #

    Cyclists should have insurance because if they scratch or damage your car how do you get the money from them? Motorists are paying more than enough to drive on roads and can do without the inconvenience of uninsured cyclists blocking the road space; we have enough of that from empty 90% of the time bus lanes. Cyclists often go over on red lights and cut in front of motorists and generally do not obey the Highway Code, so don’t push it all onto motorists at least we are paying our way.

  5. Jay 18/07/2010 at 5:01 pm #

    Cyclist are partly to be blamed by themselves. They are cycling on the same roads with other vehicles. They are taking their own risks. This is not a cycle lane in a national park.
    Cyclist should have registration plates and code of conduct like other vehicles, cyclist should have penalties on dangerous cycling

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  1. A rant against London cyclists « Beautiful in its time - 03/08/2010

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