Insurer claims massive rise in cycling casualties

The CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation has hit back at claims by car insurance company LV= that “inexperienced cyclists taking to the roads in the last 6 months have resulted in a 29% increase in road accidents involving cyclists”.

According to the CTC, the figure appears to be no more than the difference in casualty numbers for cyclists between Summer and Winter. LV=’s estimate of the number of collisions involving cyclists is over 9 times higher than official figures and is based on a serious miscalculation of the number of cyclists in Britain – LV= reckon that 43 % of the adult population regularly cycle (we wish – ed) the CTC quotes official statistics (see below) which put that figure closer to 9 %.

Commenting on LV='s claims, Roger Geffen, CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Manager, said: “This is Mickey Mouse research and flies in the face all official published statistics on cycling. There is plenty of evidence showing that cycling gets safer the more cyclists there are. In London there has been a 91% increase in cycle use on the capital’s main roads since 2000, and a 33% reduction in cycle casualties in roughly the same period”.

He added: “CTC has been researching cycle safety for over a century. Manipulating statistics for a PR stunt wastes the time of the people who took part in the survey. By demonising cyclists and scaring people into staying in their cars, it also undermines the efforts of charities like CTC to encourage more cycling and improve road safety for all”.

Singling out cyclists as a law-breaking group is discriminatory and serves only to create aggression and conflict between road users. This is highly irresponsible behaviour for an insurance company professing to care about road safety.

The CTC has contacted LV= to set out their reasons why they think their figures are incorrect and have requested that they either revise them or withdraw their press release titled “Road users warned over inexperienced cyclists” dated 16.01.2009”. 

Strangely enough we couldn't find it anywhere on the LV= website.

Here is the CTC's detailed response to the claims in LV='s press release.

The following analysis summarises the points made in CTC’s email to LV=:
 The press release issued by the car insurance company also highlighted how cyclists often break the law. CTC does not condone law-breaking and has in fact repeatedly called for more traffic police, given that illegal behaviour among drivers is far more likely to cause death or serious injury to both cyclists and others.  

In refuting the LV data, CTC takes issue with the claim that 43% of the adult population cycles. However, the latest data on cycle use from the Office for National Statistics’ General Household Survey (GHS) suggests that 9% of the adult population cycle at least once a week while 19% cycle at least once a year.

LV states there were 150,000 cycle accidents, when the official police-collected data show that there were 16,208 reported cycle casualties (most of them slight) in the 12 months July ’07 to June ’08. Far from the 29% increase in cycle collisions, these figures represent a 2% reduction in cycle casualties compared with the preceding 12 month period (16,585 casualties), and a 33% reduction compared with the 1994-98 average (24,023). 
There are seasonal fluctuations in cycle casualties every year in the Department for Transport’s factsheet “Pedal cyclist casualties in road accidents: 2007”. The pattern varies from year to year (presumably due to variations in the weather), however there are typically around 175 casualties a month in the summer months April to October (rising in some months to over 200), whereas figures in winter are around 125 a month (and sometimes below 100). The 29% increase is nothing more than the normal difference between the summer and the winter months.

And here's the LV= release that caused the fuss…


Mounting financial pressures have led to a surge in inexperienced cyclists taking to the roads, resulting in a 29% increase in road accidents involving cyclists in the past six months.

New research from car insurer LV= reveals that one in 20 Brits have got on their bikes in the past 12 months in an attempt to cut costs. Yet the findings show that this has caused a surge in accidents with 150,000 cyclists saying they have been involved in a road accident in the last six months.

A lack of formal training may be one of the causes of this problem, with more than half (52 per cent) of cyclists admitting they have never read the Highway Code’s advice for cyclists and just 42 per cent have taken a cycling proficiency course.

This is illustrated by British cyclists’ ignorance of basic road rules – with a quarter (24 per cent) unable to identify a ‘cyclists prohibited’ sign and one in five admitting to night cycling without working lights.

Other common errors include cycling on the pavement (41 per cent) – which is currently illegal, and failing to wear a safety helmet (42 per cent) which can drastically reduce the risk of injury.

In the past year one in three cyclists have cycled the wrong way up a one way street, and one in 20 (six per cent) admitted to cycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol and a similar number confessed to using a mobile phone whilst cycling.

With many thousands of inexperienced cyclists taking to the roads, motorists and other road users need to be extra vigilant to avoid collisions and cyclists need to ensure they are aware of and stick to the rules of the roads.

The majority of Brits (64 per cent) would like to see adult cycling proficiency tests become compulsory so LV= is calling on the Government and local councils to increase the availability of training for cyclists.

Emma Holyer, Spokesperson for LV= Car Insurance, said:

“Cycling is a cheap and enjoyable way to get from A to B and great exercise at the same time but it’s essential that cyclists are fully equipped to deal with the busy British roads to ensure their own safety and that of other road users.

“If cycling training was compulsory, and cyclists were better equipped to follow the rules of the roads we believe motorists, pedestrians and cyclists themselves would all benefit from fewer accidents and a safer environment on the road.”

For more information, log on to www.lv.com. (although we couldn't find the release there - ed).




Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.