Sharp jump in number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads

Campaigners call on government to do more to protect bike riders

by Simon_MacMichael   August 8, 2014  

London cyclist approaching junction.jpg

The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads jumped by more than a quarter in the first three months of this year against the comparable period in 2013 according to new official data, leading cycle campaigners to call for more to be done to improve the safety of riders.

Figures released by the Department for Transport reveal that between January and March this year there was a 27 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of bike riders killed or seriously injured, but it said that the reasons for the sharp jump were unclear.

Total road deaths in the year to the end of March were 1,750, a 4 per cent increase on the previous 12 months, with the number of fatalities of motorcyclists and cyclists each increasing by 7 per cent. The number of pedestrians and car occupants killed both fell by 1 per cent.

One potential factor explaining the first-quarter rise highlighted by the DfT include very cold weather at the start of 2013 which may have discouraged many cyclists from taking to their bikes.

However the unusually wet start to 2014, which saw flooding in many parts of Britain and would be expected to have a similar impact, does not appear to have reduced casualties among bike riders this year – and had the rainfall been lower, the DfT says casualties could have been higher.

The DfT added the warning that it is dangerous to read too much into a single quarter’s data and said that longer term trends would become apparent once more data are released for the current year.

As the chart below shows, however, deaths and serious injuries among cyclists continue to rise, and are now 34 per cent ahead of the 2005-09 average, while the number of all cyclist casualties, including minor injuries, is 26 per cent up against that period.

How much that may have to do with any increase in the number of people cycling or changes in the total distance being racked up by Britain’s cyclists is impossible to say.

Martin Key, campaigns manager at British Cycling, said: "The fact is that our roads are not designed with cycling in mind, and these latest road casualty figures are a reflection of that.

"Without adequate and sustained funding for cycling of at least £10 per head, coupled with real political leadership and national targets, Britain will continue to fall far short of great cycling countries like Holland, Germany and Denmark."

Meanwhile, Sustrans has called on the government to reduce speed limits and provide separate funding for infrastructure for people on foot and on bikes.

The sustainable transport charity’s policy adviser, Rachel Bromley, said: “Despite government assurances that are roads are getting safer, these statistics continue to reveal an alarming trend of unnecessary deaths and serious injuries for our most vulnerable roads users.

“The sharp rise in casualties over the last quarter will only serve to further deter people from walking and cycling and promote a growing fear among parents that children are safer inside the car than out.

“It is unacceptable that the government allows this to continue when a simple solution is at hand – it’s time to bite the bullet and make dedicated funding available to transform local walking and cycling routes and introduce lower traffic speeds,” she added.

27 user comments

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What annoys me is that when we had that nasty rise in deaths last year, the contributing factors that led to the death are held away from us, or its not easily found i.e. lorry turning left, right hook etc

I understand that appropriating blame needs to be carried out after a full investigation and through the courts if necessary (so we don't start lynching each other), but for us who continue to cycle on busy roads, some details on how these people die might help us identify any shortfalls in safety we might have in the way we ride.

posted by Scoob_84 [278 posts]
8th August 2014 - 17:12

46 Likes

More and more cars on the road and more and more cyclists on the road is the simple answer to why there is an increase.

The Govt has to do something NOW to stop the upwards trend of cyclists killed or seriously injured, but with an election looming they wont spend the money.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [3068 posts]
8th August 2014 - 17:13

49 Likes

stumps wrote:
More and more cars on the road and more and more cyclists on the road is the simple answer to why there is an increase.

The Govt has to do something NOW to stop the upwards trend of cyclists killed or seriously injured, but with an election looming they wont spend the money.

Not quite true though, everything i have seen points to less driving, yes there are more cyclists.

I would hope the too are linked... i suspect not, i suspect it is simply fewer pointless journeys and a little more internet shopping and deliveries.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1694 posts]
8th August 2014 - 18:04

49 Likes

Don't really want to disagree with Mr. Key but, I was under the impression that British roads were designed a long time ago (in most cases) to allow all forms of transport. Also wasn't there a report recently stating that the average width of motor vehicles has increased by 11 inches since 1975. So perhaps the powers that be should be taxing vehicles on their width as well as the co2 output. Again the old saw about funding to allow proper policing to insure that the roads are safe for everybody.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [666 posts]
8th August 2014 - 18:21

41 Likes

stumps wrote:
More and more cars on the road and more and more cyclists on the road is the simple answer to why there is an increase.

The Govt has to do something NOW to stop the upwards trend of cyclists killed or seriously injured, but with an election looming they wont spend the money.

Exactly right - far more cyclists so the stats are inevitable. Something must be done to bring respect for cyclists on the road into our culture.

posted by vanmildert [56 posts]
8th August 2014 - 18:23

35 Likes

Scoob_84 wrote:
What annoys me is that when we had that nasty rise in deaths last year, the contributing factors that led to the death are held away from us, or its not easily found i.e. lorry turning left, right hook etc

I understand that appropriating blame needs to be carried out after a full investigation and through the courts if necessary (so we don't start lynching each other), but for us who continue to cycle on busy roads, some details on how these people die might help us identify any shortfalls in safety we might have in the way we ride.

Perhaps not exactly what you are looking for, as that would I think be contained in Coroners reports, though when they publish the full “Road Casualties in Great Britain Report” every autumn, it does include a table, RAS50005, that gives the statistics for ‘contributing factor’ as recorded by the police. Though it all severities where the police attended and not just Killed or Serious injury.

As with all the tables in the report they are available on the government website as Excel spreadsheets, here it the link for RAS50005 that has the figures for 2010, 2011 & 2012.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

I would like to mention that when looking at these statistics we have to remember behind each number is human tragedy. That was sadly brought home to me early this week when a lady in Hull was killed while cycling home from work.

posted by Pete B [19 posts]
8th August 2014 - 18:39

37 Likes

When I'm out in my car, I give cyclists more space than necessary. Maybe it's because I'm a cyclist, maybe not, maybe I realize that the 5 seconds or whatever that a cyclist may inconvenience me, is OK, getting to my destination is not more important than someone's life.

When an accident happens, it should be up to the car driver to prove that they were not to blame. It has to be this way. The one with the bigger potential for harm should be more responsible.

If I go to a park and kill or injure a child, does anyone expect the child to prove that it wasn't their fault?

Motorized vehicle drivers have to be made to understand that a stupid mistake can cause someones life to be over. There also has to be stricter sentences for offenders. At the moment, the sentences are surely no deterrent.

Just as the governments mantra of 'Israels right to defend itself', contrary to common sense, decency, and basic humanity. It's no wonder they can't do what needs to be done.

And before anyone says that it's unrelated, think for a moment. The govenment takes that line because of pressure from the israel lobby. It wouldn't be impossible that they also have the car industry lobbying and protecting their own interests.

Man on a health promoting bike < Man in a air polluting car. Go figure.

posted by ronin [235 posts]
8th August 2014 - 18:59

45 Likes

After my ride today and experiences with some other cyclists I can see why they are getting killed.

Also remember many people who take up cycling are not particularly fit and as they ride they get fatigued which means less concentration and worse technique, and unfortunately when cycling concentration is something you can't afford to lose. Not excusing idiotic drivers in the slightest, but you have got to have total awareness 100% of the time to give yourself the best chance.

posted by Cyclist [307 posts]
8th August 2014 - 19:19

31 Likes

stumps wrote:
More and more cars on the road and more and more cyclists on the road is the simple answer to why there is an increase.

The Govt has to do something NOW to stop the upwards trend of cyclists killed or seriously injured, but with an election looming they wont spend the money.

Apparently car ownership is going down. Though I would not be surprised if the miles driven per car are going up.

posted by jacknorell [871 posts]
8th August 2014 - 19:32

25 Likes

Cyclist wrote:
After my ride today and experiences with some other cyclists I can see why they are getting killed.

Also remember many people who take up cycling are not particularly fit and as they ride they get fatigued which means less concentration and worse technique, and unfortunately when cycling concentration is something you can't afford to lose. Not excusing idiotic drivers in the slightest, but you have got to have total awareness 100% of the time to give yourself the best chance.

Yes, currently you unfortunately have to.

The point is that one should not need to: Drivers should take care around other road users.

But they don't. It's not like cyclists are actually singled out though (except by a psychotic fringe) as car drivers are aggressive with everyone.

posted by jacknorell [871 posts]
8th August 2014 - 19:34

34 Likes

What these reports don't show is the number of casualties as a proportion of categories of road users. Unless I've missed it.

Raw numbers increasing is bad but if fatalities are up by 7% whereas rider numbers are up by 15% then statistically the report is misleading.

That doesn't take away from the need to change road users' attitudes to behaviour on the roads - all road users.

posted by DAG on a bike [67 posts]
8th August 2014 - 19:59

28 Likes

If we all wore hi viz and helmets this number would surely drop.
Its our own fault.

posted by Some Fella [897 posts]
8th August 2014 - 22:26

24 Likes

Martin Key, campaigns manager at British Cycling, said: "The fact is that our roads are not designed with cycling in mind, and these latest road casualty figures are a reflection of that.

I find that road surfaces are great until HGVs and decades of neglect have worn them out and roads are great except when there is motor traffic on them.

The coming of the railways in the 1830s killed off the stage-coach trade; almost all rural roads reverted to low-level local use. Cyclists were the first group in a generation to use roads and were the first to push for high-quality sealed surfaces and were the first to lobby for national funding and leadership for roads.

http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/ and
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/apr/16/roads-not-b...

posted by kie7077 [662 posts]
8th August 2014 - 22:35

34 Likes

Quote:
If we all wore hi viz and helmets this number would surely drop.
Its our own fault.

Because less people would be cycling? yes that'll work!

Theres a lot of trolling on road cc at the moment which doesn't help anyone.

The test of when we get this right will be when our kids can cycle to school without the need for specialist safety equipment or expert knowledge developed from years of road use.

Other countries manage that, why can't the UK?

posted by IanW1968 [226 posts]
9th August 2014 - 5:40

23 Likes

Hmmm. Far be it from me to suggest political massaging of figures (oh, actually it isn't), but I do seem to remember that cycling deaths were down last year for the first part, until we had that awful spate of them in November. So a comparative with last year would predictably give a rise in deaths if it was the first quarter (excluding November).

Perhaps I'm just being cynical about these cycling organisations - though I'm not criticising them for doing so (I'm sure all the others do it to make their points).

I'm not saying the roads are super safe, nor that there aren't dangerous drivers out there, but these stats only ever paint a bad picture. It's not all bad.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1476 posts]
9th August 2014 - 7:56

24 Likes

Peyresourde, the figures are from the DfT not a "cycling organisation" and they say in the text the rise from Q1 2013 may be due to poor weather in 2013 suppressing that years figure.

The longer term trend is obviously upward.

Do at least read a story your going to criticise!

posted by IanW1968 [226 posts]
9th August 2014 - 8:51

31 Likes

It might sound Twee, but we need proper Infomercials like you used to see on the TV in the 70's. Proper safety adverts showing drivers just what to do when you come across a cyclist. I find there are 3 kinds of drivers out there, the careful who slow down and pass cyclists properly, the idiots who like to play the "how close to a cyclist can I get" game, and those who just have no idea what to do. If you can educate those with no idea then at least some inroads will have been made.

Das's picture

posted by Das [177 posts]
9th August 2014 - 9:59

26 Likes

IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:
If we all wore hi viz and helmets this number would surely drop.
Its our own fault.

Because less people would be cycling? yes that'll work!

.....

I'm pretty sure that the original post is sarcasm, it is very hard to tell without any indicators though, sarcasm tag needed.

posted by kie7077 [662 posts]
9th August 2014 - 11:40

27 Likes

IanW1968 wrote:
Peyresourde, the figures are from the DfT not a "cycling organisation" and they say in the text the rise from Q1 2013 may be due to poor weather in 2013 suppressing that years figure.

The longer term trend is obviously upward.

Do at least read a story your going to criticise!

Sustrans and British Cycling are - perhaps you forgot to read down to that point?

The DfT just provide the figures. The other two are using it to make their point. I'm just saying comparing one quarter actually says very little, and although Sustrans and British Cycling are obviously aiming at getting more support for cycling, I do think they also risk scaring people away. It's not all doom and gloom out there.

The movement increases are not massive as a percentage of a whole.

Do try to understand the point people are making before you criticise their view point.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1476 posts]
9th August 2014 - 12:18

24 Likes

The real factor here is driving standards. Most drivers are pretty much ok as they sit in a line of traffic and don't have to think but their massive ignorance of the highway code, their general sense of entitlement (which leads to road rage) and their poor control of their vehicles and temper are a recipe for disaster.

The simplest thing the government could do is overhaul the driving test, with far more focus on sharing the roads, and introduce mandatory retests every three years.

This would make me feel much safer as a motorist, pedestrian, cyclist and, on the odd occasion, horse rider.

jmferros's picture

posted by jmferros [9 posts]
9th August 2014 - 12:18

22 Likes

Das wrote:
It might sound Twee, but we need proper Infomercials like you used to see on the TV in the 70's. Proper safety adverts showing drivers just what to do when you come across a cyclist. I find there are 3 kinds of drivers out there, the careful who slow down and pass cyclists properly, the idiots who like to play the "how close to a cyclist can I get" game, and those who just have no idea what to do. If you can educate those with no idea then at least some inroads will have been made.

Another helpful thing with that is:

I've noticed that when the first car to pass does so with enough space and at a 'correct' speed differential (quick but not flooring it) then the following do as well.

If the first is passing too close, so do the rest...

So, if we can get those who don't know how to pay more attention/be safer around vulnerable users, others observe the behaviour and mimic it. It's really about norming safe behaviour back into the driving 'schema'.

posted by jacknorell [871 posts]
9th August 2014 - 13:30

17 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
If we all wore hi viz and helmets this number would surely drop.
Its our own fault.

This period from 2006 to present has seen a substantial increase in the use of cycle-helmets and hi-vis clothing and yet the figures keep trending up.

There is some quite strong evidence that cyclists wearing helmets are passed closer than those not wearing. As our built environment gets more garishly colourful and cluttered are we effectively being camouflaged by wearing hi-vis clothing in the same way as 'dazzle' paint works?

Is the combination of drivers passing closer and failing to pick us out a factor in the disproportionate rise in cycling casualties?

The main problem with these statistics is the broad brush-strokes used. What types of cyclist are most likely to be casualties, what ages are they, what time of day, type of road, etc?

I would hazard a guess that the breakdown would reveal an unconfident, inexperienced cyclist in an urban environment, riding a town/hybrid at or around peak times in poor light and wearing hi-vis and a cycling helmet.

posted by levermonkey [521 posts]
9th August 2014 - 15:18

18 Likes

Das wrote:
It might sound Twee, but we need proper Infomercials like you used to see on the TV in the 70's. Proper safety adverts showing drivers just what to do when you come across a cyclist. I find there are 3 kinds of drivers out there, the careful who slow down and pass cyclists properly, the idiots who like to play the "how close to a cyclist can I get" game, and those who just have no idea what to do. If you can educate those with no idea then at least some inroads will have been made.

This is one of the adverts appearing on the local buses.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1694 posts]
9th August 2014 - 17:56

14 Likes

I was being sarcastic/ ironic

posted by Some Fella [897 posts]
9th August 2014 - 21:36

12 Likes

The roads are a dangerous place. I was cycling through town today and some old cunt pulled out of a parking place on the opposite side of the road right across me, no looking, no indication, nothing. He then dawdled in front of me in his big car suddenly pulled left to the side, no indication, then started to swing right back out into the road to chuck a u-y nearly taking me out as I passed him. I shouted "Oiiiii!" The cunt just stopped before he took me down. I asked him if either his car or he was defective as he had pulled three dangerous manoeuvres without so much as looking around him or indicating? He was about 60 and let off a tirade of abuse at me, then shot forward to try to drive into me as I was blocking his path. The cunt's wife sitting alongside him told him not to be stupid so he backed up. With this sort of fuckwitting dangerous driving on the road it's surprising that not many more cyclists are killed or seriously injured on the roads. It has definitely got to the stage of head cams facing front and rear and even to the sides so these fuckers are shown up for being the dangerous drivers they are.

But there is no political will from the Government to usher in big change to give cyclists more protection. It will ever be thus even if 1000 cyclists were killed and 15,000 were seriously injured on the roads each month the Government and politicians would still do fuck all because we cyclists are not their paymasters. The car industry and car users are through taxation. It will ever be thus. You take your life in your hands when you ride on UK roads. Some days I often ask myself I am going to make it to work or home today as the standard of driving is so fucking bad one is surely going to get me and this doesn't include the ones who deliberately drive at you to frighten you or think it's funny to do so. Period.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [726 posts]
10th August 2014 - 5:10

35 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
I was being sarcastic/ ironic

I know. I quoted you as your post made a good intro. Big Grin

posted by levermonkey [521 posts]
10th August 2014 - 16:02

5 Likes

How right you are !

When the first vehicle passes , using signals to pass , then return to lane , the followers TEND to observe the fact that there is a reason , unless they are busy with " Multi tasking "!

Until the government introduce " Strict Liability " and add the need for " signs " to the rear of " People Movers " and larger vehicles , reminding those following that 1 1/2M Safe Pass of Cyclists is REQUIRED , there will continue to be people blundering into the rear of Cyclists ! Not my fault Gov. , is NO EXCUSE for failing to observe the Laws of the land ?

Families are the " Victims " of the appalling lack of Policing of the existing Laws let alone the creation of a more Professional Approach by the Judiciary to the senseless MURDER on the roads .

People are quick to take to the streets about the " Killings in Gaza ( mostly due to the Inept Politicians/terrorists allowing the lobbing of 3rd world Rockets at " Iron Dome protected Israeli Civilians ") , YET they treat another Cyclist death as " Ho Hum /just one of those things " , that they just occasionally allow their fingers to wander across a keyboard , whilst tucked up on the couch !

In this article there is no mention of the numbers of concerned Cyclists that attended : http://road.cc/content/news/126249-islington-cyclists-stage-protest-afte...

Good to see that this Death , albeit due to apparent misadventure , was at least acknowledged . Would that there was more info available by CCTV , to determine , IF , the Cyclist had been the victim of external interference so as to reassure his family .

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopKillingCyclists are having an event on November 15th that should be a stepping stone towards a Nationwide Day of Protest . There are already other " Cycling safety Org.s " trying to have Local Events on the same day , but it will need the cooperation of ALL those reading this , to get onto THEIR Social Media Networks , to ensure that the maximum benefit accrues to the Cycling Community !

Take the time to visit and " Like " their efforts , pass on the Message to YOUR community , and then maybe , the life YOU SAVE might be YOUR OWN ?

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [405 posts]
11th August 2014 - 11:23

2 Likes