CTC says cycling may be getting safer despite rise in DfT casualty statistics

Cyclists' organisation says figures must be put in context of overall growth in cycling

by Simon_MacMichael   February 4, 2011  

Commuter cyclist

National cyclists’ organisation CTC says that a 3% rise in the number of recorded cycling fatalities needs to be put in the context of an increase in the number of cyclists in recent years and that in proportional terms, cycling may actually be getting safer, while AA president, Edmund King said the increase in new cyclists was itself a contributing factor as motorists switched from four wheel to two to save money.

According to data released by the Department for Transport (DfT), in the year to September 2010, the total number of cyclists injured on Britain’s roads rose by 3% to 17,430. The number killed or seriously injured rose at the lower rate of 2% during the same period.

While figures for the number of people cycling are not quite so up-to-date, data from the DfT show 4% growth in those taking to two wheels during 2009.

Chris Peck, policy officer at CTC, pointed out that a BBC News report on the statistics had been wrong to cover the latest statistics under the headline “Cyclist death and injury rate rising, figures show.”

In that BBC News article, he had been quoted as saying: “While the increase in cycle casualties might look worrying, the risk to each individual may still be lower than before, when you consider the increase in the number of cyclists."

But in a subsequent statement, Mr Peck said: “The BBC is wrong to report death and injury rates as increasing. As we pointed out in our comment, cycling levels are increasing faster than injury rates.

“The concept of 'Safety in Numbers' suggests that injury rates rise at 0.4 of the growth in cycling. Rates are falling or holding steady, even if actual numbers of injuries may be rising. Last year cycling deaths fell to their lowest level ever recorded at the same time that cycling reached the highest level in 17 years.

“That being said, we are still urging the government to take stronger measures to make our roads safer for cyclists to use. I don't think there is anyone who feels that things are as safe as they'd like it to be and clearly safer roads and better cycle facilities will convince more people to return to cycling."

Cyclists were the only class of road user in which an increase in casualties was observed during the 12-month period. The number of pedestrians and motorcyclists killed or seriously injured both fell by 8% over the period, while that of car users dropped by 11%. Child casualties, too, fell during the year, with a decline of 5%.

However, in the third quarter of the year, covering July to September, which is historically the heaviest one of the year for cycling casualties, there was a marked rise in casualty numbers.

Total cycling casualties from July to September 2010 were 5% up on the comparable period in 2009, but the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured rose by 8% to 800.

AA president Edmund King told BBC News that rising petrol prices had meant that many motorists had switched to cycling to save money, which had in turn led to an increase in the number of accidents.

"These trends need to be countered and the country's road safety effort has to prepare for better times when more people drive," he said.

5 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I don't feel a lot safer cycling to and from work than I did 20 years ago.


posted by OldRidgeback [2580 posts]
4th February 2011 - 15:02


Ah, what a numerate country we are... When the Beeb's journos can't tell the difference between a >number< and a >rate< then it's time to get worried Nerd

posted by drain [8 posts]
4th February 2011 - 18:31


AA President - better times when more people drive - mate the decline has began and with soaring petrol prices maybe the AA should follow IAM's position in regard to embracing cyclist in their midst --- AA to offer a recovery service for cyclists!

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

Mountain-Nic's picture

posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
4th February 2011 - 21:47


Did anyone check back the car/motorcycle/pedestrian figures to see whether that decrease is also related to the decrease in number of people driving/walking on the road?

Mind you, if you are walking in the road it does raise the chances of getting knocked down by bike, car or motorbike!


posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
5th February 2011 - 12:02


Haven't looked back at this particularl set of fig, but yes one reason for the drop in child deaths over the past decade is attributed to their being fewer children using the roads.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
5th February 2011 - 12:14