Home
Women were also found to be more likely to be involved in crashes than men

A recent study carried out at the University of Westminster has found that slower cyclists are more likely to be involved in collisions.

The Times reports that cyclists travelling at 8mph or below are three times more likely to be involved in road traffic incidents and near-misses than those riding at 12mph or above.

Researchers suggested that faster cyclists may be treated with more respect by drivers and subjected to fewer overtaking manoeuvres.

Dr Rachel Aldred, senior lecturer in transport at Westminster University, said it was important to pay particular attention to the experiences of those who cycled more slowly.

"If people need to maintain a speed of 12mph or more to avoid high levels of scary incidents, we will find it very difficult to break out of the current situation where UK cycling is dominated by men and younger adults.”

A three-year study is currently underway at Oxford Brookes University investigating how people can be encouraged to cycle into older age, helping them retain their health, fitness and independence.

While cycling accounts for 23 per cent of all journeys for people aged 65 and older in the Netherlands, 15 per cent in Denmark and 9 per cent in Germany, it represents only one per cent of such journeys in the UK.

The University of Westminster study also found that women were more likely to be involved in crashes than men, with lower average cycling speeds perhaps influencing this to some degree.

In contrast, a study published in the British Medical Journal in November found that female cyclists in Canada have lower hospitalisation rates than men. The Canadian researchers concluded that this was perhaps because women tended to favour safer routes, including roads where there was better cycling infrastructure.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

20 comments

Avatar
mrmo [2094 posts] 1 year ago
9 likes

doesn't surprise me, the attitude of motorists does differ when i go up a hill or suffer into a headwind.

 

but obviously hi viz and helmets are the solution.

Avatar
TheSpaniard [108 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:

but obviously hi viz and helmets are the solution.

 

Tight fitting and aero though, clearly, just to help increase speeds...

Avatar
ron611087 [356 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes

I bet the answer to this is "it's complex".

Cycling slowly means you will take longer to get to your destination and therefore be exposed to more incidences. That's logical, but IMO it's probably a minor cause because heavy traffic and bad luck with traffic lights impacts on your journey duration more than speed does.

I tend to find that I'm subject to more close passes and impatient driver behaviour when I'm slowed by headwind or a hill. I suspect that driver behaviour is the single biggest risk factor in collisions.

Avatar
KnightBiker [81 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

most accidents with bad dead-angle-visibility happen to woman, the reason is that most men are making sure they are in front of the cars at the junctions/traffic lights. Women tend to adhere to the rules to much.

Also don`t always assume you are seen. traffic is like a game of chess with a timer: think ahead! 

Going slow shouldn`t really be a problem, slow reaction times are though: older people on E-bikes tend to get in creashes more often too: they are not adjusted to the horsepower and are too relaxed at high speeds.

Avatar
FrankH [57 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I must admit to feeling more vulnerable when cycling with Mrs H at her slow speed rather than at my slightly faster slow speed.

However, I'm trying to work out the relevance of the picture of cyclists in Osaka. Were you unable to source a picture of slow, old cyclists in Britain?

Avatar
imajez [98 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
KnightBiker wrote:

most accidents with bad dead-angle-visibility happen to woman, the reason is that most men are making sure they are in front of the cars at the junctions/traffic lights. Women tend to adhere to the rules to much.

A similar conclusion was drawn from research into accidents in London a while back. Men were more likely to jump lights and thus less likely to get squashed by a vehicle turning right - a main cause of cycling deaths. 

Avatar
burtthebike [1110 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

The problem isn't the slow cyclists, it is the fast drivers.  Did the researchers look into the causes of the collisions, or just the speed of the cyclists?

One reason why faster cyclists are less likely to be the victim of a driver is that if you travel faster, the drivers have more time to react to your presence if they are following you.  On the other hand, they have less time if you are approaching them when they are stationary e.g. at a junction.  More analysis is needed of the circs of each collision, who was responsible and why it happened.  If riding faster makes you safer, why does it?  Given that accepted wisdom says that the faster you go, the more at risk you are, these conclusions are contradictory and confusing.

The conclusion that slow riders are more at risk can only be an interim conclusion, and we need to know why, and much more in depth research is required.

Avatar
imaca [82 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
ron611087 wrote:

I bet the answer to this is "it's complex".

Cycling slowly means you will take longer to get to your destination and therefore be exposed to more incidences. That's logical, but IMO it's probably a minor cause because heavy traffic and bad luck with traffic lights impacts on your journey duration more than speed does.

Yeah that is possible, there is no indication in the article if the 3 x relative risk is per unit distance or per unit time. Obviously this would make a huge difference.

My experience is that slow cyclists tend to be less confident.

Ironically, this tends to make them more likely to use high risk behaviours e.g. keeping to the extreme left, dodging in and out of parked cars, failing to take the lane when needed for safety, walking bike across busy roads.

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1201 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

A slower cyclist will be passed by more drivers in the same time period than a faster cyclist and the factor goes up further when comparing like distances. Has the research accounted for this?  More crashes and more close passes could just be directly proportional to the number of drivers who pass the cyclist, or if the incidents goes up faster than the number of drivers, then we can start considering drivers attitude to the slower cyclists.

Avatar
Wolfshade [200 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

This is quite interesting. Relative risk is an absolute quantity so taking into consideration that the passing time is different. So, despite it taking 1.5x longer to pass a person doing 12mph than 8mph the person doing 8 suffers three times the risk. That is a lot, relatively speaking, though bear in mind that the general risk of injury from cycling in Great Britain is just 0.05 injuries per 1,000 hours of cycling [CTC Cycling Statistics]. This would suggest that there is an attitude shift between "slow" and "quick" people on bikes. Which is kind of weird. Consider Dr Ian Walker's research which suggested that the more profficient a cyclist looked the less space they gave, yet certainly a cyclist going slowly would look less professional and therefore be given more space. Yet, despite this they suffer greater risk. I suppose though that this isn't really that surprising the more I think about this. A similiar result could be guessed at using the Solomon curve (an individual's collision rate is a function of the difference between their speed and the average speed), so by going 12 mph a person on a bike is closer to the average speed and so has a lower collision rate.

We also have those helpful comments from the bus driver training to leave 1cm per 1 mph when passing, which might be a general trend.

Avatar
Yorkshie Whippet [614 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

The reason is not that complex. It's quite simple, a combination of bad driving practise and impatience.

Very few drivers actually use the gears in conjunction with the engine. Subsequently they get into top gear as quickly as possible at low speed and low revs. Once in top there is reluctance to change down. This is not helped with the silly "Eco" gear change modes modern cars  have on dashboards.  Added to the fact few cars can actually do 30 or less on top gear. This increases the impatience factor as a slow moving vehicle means changing gear and disrupting the status quo of being in top gear. As a result more people are likely to do a "suspect" pass on a slower vehicle.

Avatar
Awavey [334 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

A slower cyclist will be passed by more drivers in the same time period than a faster cyclist and the factor goes up further when comparing like distances. Has the research accounted for this?  More crashes and more close passes could just be directly proportional to the number of drivers who pass the cyclist, or if the incidents goes up faster than the number of drivers, then we can start considering drivers attitude to the slower cyclists.

 

Id agree its got to be number of passes per time period exposed which is going to be a misleading stat, because my experience outside of London (and I think thats key as well as London commute cycling is very different to how lots of people cycle and shouldnt be used as a one size fits all)  is the closer I am to the traffic speed, I might be overtaken fewer times, but those that do often try more dangerous overtakes just to get in front and are often far more frustrated because they felt they couldnt get by quicker and were delayed more.

Ive been cycling down steep hill descents several times hitting 25mph and still had cars overtake me even when its a 30mph limit with them heading towards oncoming traffic, they get that wrong and its a going to be bad day for everyone, theres just an inbuilt assumption in most car drivers that being on a bike means you are slower and it surprises them when you arent.

whereas when Im pootling along, recovering normally  1 I might get overtaken more, but they often feel better overtakes.

Avatar
NR23Derek [3 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

It's probably because the slower you go, the more inclided to wobble you are. Fast riders generally carry on in a straight line.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1792 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
NR23Derek wrote:

It's probably because the slower you go, the more inclided to wobble you are. Fast riders generally carry on in a straight line.

This sounds like the least plausible explanation of all those suggested in the thread (most of those mentoned above seem entirely plausible to me).

Do you have any evidence that slower riders on the roads wobble to a significant degree, or that 'wobbling' is a significant cause of accidents? (Is it listed as one of the contributing factors in the stats the police produce?)

Generally its always seemed to me that UK road culture demands speed (or at least, the capacity for it much of the time). Its tricky to, say, drift across multiple lanes of traffic with cars potentially hitting 60mph, to turn right at a junction, even at the best of times. If you can only manage 8mph its likely to be worse.

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1201 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
NR23Derek wrote:

It's probably because the slower you go, the more inclided to wobble you are. Fast riders generally carry on in a straight line.

Wish I could go in a straight line on the roads. Too busy weaving past the potholes, often feels like a slalom course. Even slow speed riders shouldn't wobble more than a foot. So any driver hiving 1.5m ad they should would not hit or close pass a wobbling cyclist.

Avatar
NR23Derek [3 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I didn't mean that as an insult and clearly being hit by a car is not the cyclists fault.

But riding slowly does make it harder to keep a straight line, probably something to do with the rate of spin of the wheels which act as gyroscopes.  This is just another argument for properly segregated cycle roads.

 

 

Avatar
mrmo [2094 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

from my experience the only factor that matters is impatience. This has nothing to do with experience. Drivers don't like being held up, that simple. 

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1201 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
mrmo wrote:

from my experience the only factor that matters is impatience. This has nothing to do with experience. Drivers don't like being held up, that simple. 

Although being held up by a stationary queue of cars for 5 minutes is less of an issue if seems than being behind a cyclist for 20 seconds.

Avatar
Jimnm [257 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

It's nowt to do with a bunch of impatient twats in vehicles trying to make things difficult for us cyclists. This is my analysis of the study. I have been clipped several times with wing mirrors and run off the road onto the path on a bend. 

Avatar
fukawitribe [1945 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Yorkshie Whippet wrote:

The reason is not that complex. It's quite simple, a combination of bad driving practise and impatience.

Very few drivers actually use the gears in conjunction with the engine. Subsequently they get into top gear as quickly as possible at low speed and low revs. Once in top there is reluctance to change down. This is not helped with the silly "Eco" gear change modes modern cars  have on dashboards.  Added to the fact few cars can actually do 30 or less on top gear. This increases the impatience factor as a slow moving vehicle means changing gear and disrupting the status quo of being in top gear. As a result more people are likely to do a "suspect" pass on a slower vehicle.

Extrapolate much ?