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.