Home
Latest figures suggest the current focus on pedestrian deaths may be misplaced

Cyclists are 15 times more likely to be killed on the road than drivers, according to the government’s new figures.

Despite doing many fewer miles per year than drivers, cyclists take on far more risk on Britain’s roads.

Statistics released by the Department for Transport show 102 cyclists died in Britain last year - a slight increase (of 2 per cent) on the previous year. In terms of casualty rates, for every billion miles cycled, there are 5,353 accidents and 29.5 deaths.

That compares with just 262 accidents and 2 deaths per billion miles for car drivers.

But the public debate currently centres on whether cyclists are being adequately penalised for occasions when they kill or maim pedestrians - a rare occurrence.

Tim Williamson, a driver defence expert and criminal lawyer at Blake Morgan, who specialises in representing motorists in court, told the Independent he supported tougher laws for dangerous cycling. But he said existing legislation was “ill-equipped” for cases where a pedestrian was responsible for a collision with a bicycle.

The paper notes: “For cyclists, the Road Traffic Act 1991, which created cycling offences parallel but not equal to those of careless and dangerous driving, imposes maximum fines of £1,000 for careless cycling and £2,500 for dangerous cycling. If bodily harm is caused by the cyclist, they can be prosecuted for wanton and furious driving, which carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment; compared with 14 years for death by dangerous driving.”

Chris Boardman, British Cycling’s policy adviser, told the paper: “Laws should be developed so the penalties are proportionate to the ability to cause harm. This means basing them on evidence not headlines. I’m all for tougher penalties if they lead to actual reduction in casualties on the road.”

In 2015 two pedestrians were killed and 96 seriously injured after being hit by a bicycle.

But every year more than 100 cyclists are killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured on British roads – the majority by motorists.

As we reported earlier this month, the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured by cyclists in Britain has doubled in a decade, according to new analysis.

The Daily Telegraph looked at government data and concluded that in 2016, “three pedestrians died in such incidents across Great Britain while a further 108 sustained serious injury.”

This compares with “50 pedestrians who were killed or seriously injured a decade earlier in 2006.”

But importantly, the newspaper notes that its data “does not apportion blame for the accidents in question”.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.