Jon Snow asks: Why are cycling deaths increasing?

Presenter says statistics are perplexing

by Mark Appleton   July 26, 2011  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

Channel 4 News presenter and keen cyclist Jon Snow yesterday ran a report about the increasing number of riders dying on Britain’s roads.

He asks why this is happening at a rate which, he says, cannot be explained simply by the increased number of cyclists out there.

“Casualties on Britain's roads are down in the last year by 6 per cent. But for cyclists, casualties are up 1 per cent. And while fatalities on the roads are down by 16 per cent in the last year, cycling fatalities are up by 7 per cent. And yet the use of bikes is only up by 1.5 per cent,” he says in his blog.

 

He highlights the issue of left-turning lorries in his report and commends the Cemex cement company for fitting safety devices to its vehicles.

He concludes that: “..if there were better provision for cyclists on the roads, there would be better behaviour. And if there was better behaviour, those rising numbers of deaths would be reversed.”
 

22 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

No Jon, it's not better provision for cyclists on the roads. It's better cyclists that's the issue. Lorries or other vehicles of that size are huge. It's hard seeing round them or out of them. You're not going to change that. Big blues lanes are a political sop to the green lobby and have attracted a higher number of less able cyclists who seem to believe that they have a right to be on the road without anticipating or reacting to change in situations and shouldn't have to look around them or listen out (the perennial iPod issue). You want fewer deaths? Educate cyclists. Drivers too, but it's not a one-way argument.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
26th July 2011 - 16:57

like this
Like (2)

Quote:
It's hard seeing round them or out of them. You're not going to change that

What, by fitting sensors, cameras and left-turn warning signals?

Let's not pretend that all cyclists are good at cycling, because they're not. But we're a long way from lorries being as safe as they can be. Lorries can't see cyclists, and affordable technology already exists to remedy that. Why isn't its use being enforced?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
26th July 2011 - 17:11

like this
Like (0)

While there has been a small increase in the number of cyclist killed this year compared with last year, the overall trend is down, cyclists are half as likely to be killed now as they in were in the 1990's. Why are cyclist being blamed for collisions involved lorries? There are a similar number of pedestrians are
killed in lorry involved collisions, are these pedestrians filtering down the side of lorries? Why aren't C4 and CTC checking their facts before starting to frighten people?

posted by Kim [121 posts]
26th July 2011 - 17:36

like this
Like (0)

I may have mentioned this before but whenever I have seen these dump trucks/construction type lorries driving around London, they always look as if they are being driven by someone who has a gun held to his head. They are driven far, far too fast. Someone has previously mentioned that they are paid per job. Can anyone confirm that?

If so, the Government should introduce legislation that makes it illegal to pay them per job and their speed limit should be set at 20mph.

Having cycled in Richmond Park where the speed limit is enforced at 20mph, you feel so much safer. The cars don't rev past you and you feel as a cyclist, and the driver, have time to react if anything were to go wrong.

I've never understood why Boris and his mates have prevaricated so much over a blanket 20mph speed limit for London. The average speed of the traffic might actually go up.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
26th July 2011 - 18:04

like this
Like (1)

Dave - aren't left-turn warning signals called indicators? And sensors and cameras are all well and good, but don't you think that that just makes (some) cyclists think as they go up the inside of a lorry, 'Ah, that's fine, the driver knows I'm here'. Rule is don't ride up the inside of an HGV/bus at a junction. Simples.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
26th July 2011 - 18:05

like this
Like (0)

dullard wrote:
Rule is don't ride up the inside of an HGV/bus at a junction. Simples.

Totally agree - but ...

While you and I have the nerve to follow that rule, taking prime position at junctions and generally forcing ourselves into the safe position on the road - not everyone does.

Sadly until cycling becomes a much more widely accepted mode of transport there will be many - cyclists and drivers alike, who believe our place is stuck in the gutter

Education for cyclists is a huge part of this - but so is making the overall experience safer and getting nutters off the road with proper sentencing - that'll get more people out there and learning the right way to do these things

posted by mad_scot_rider [518 posts]
26th July 2011 - 18:28

like this
Like (0)

Quote:
dullard wrote:

Rule is don't ride up the inside of an HGV/bus at a junction. Simples.

Totally agree - but ...

+1

As Dullard says, it's simples, there's no but about it.
You have to be in charge of your own self on the road, you can't assume people have seen you, or that they have a new fanged gizmo on-board that's gonna save you.

It's great that these new devices are now coming onto the market and i would like to see lorries being banned form the road if they don't fit them, but by sneaking into a gap because you're late is ultimately going to end up with you on the losing side of an accident. That may suggest that cyclist are to blame in someway, and i'm sure there's a big percentage that says they are but also another big percentage is down to poor driving. I see tipper drivers, driving round on their mobile phones!?

I think it's a good thing that Jon Snow is raising awareness, it's very easy to jump up and say he's wrong, but it's great that he's in a position to raise these stories, potentially bringing weight to certain campaigns. Without that we'd just be either Lycra louts or a nuisance on UK's city streets.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
27th July 2011 - 1:08

like this
Like (0)

londonplayer wrote:

I've never understood why Boris and his mates have prevaricated so much over a blanket 20mph speed limit for London.

Especially as at most times of day it's usually 0ph due to congestion

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
27th July 2011 - 1:12

like this
Like (0)

In answer to educating cyclist: Which i'm all for.

How do you think we do that? Ok, that's not that hard, Cycling training or proficiency is a start yes. But, how do you suppose the UK police that?

Are you suggesting that everybody that gets on a bike needs to undergo and pass a test? From the everyday commuters to the occasional Sunday bikers, to the people that ride a bike once every 5 years. That's a huge amount of people, in fact it covers every person who is born. That would take up masses amount of resource, cost £millions and i would say wouldn't affect the figures greatly. Wouldn't you rather see that money go to funding warning technology for lorries or better cycle lanes?

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
27th July 2011 - 1:27

like this
Like (0)

+1 for Dullard here, you can fit all the safety systems in the world, but apart from one that overrides the drivers actions, they're not a guarantee of effectiveness.

They would be a help, but many times a day on my commute I see people on bikes riding like tools, having limited awareness of what's going on around them and putting themselves in positions which, I'm sure if they were shown a film of someone else doing that they would be the first to criticise.

Driver education, safety systems, localised speed restrictions (NOT blanket ones) etc are all welcome, but at the same time, a bit of thought over where you're riding, awareness of as many of the potential risks in a given situation (ok, adnmittedly that may come with time) and a sense of self preservation rather than self righteousness on the part of people on bikes would go a long way to reducing casualty rates.

Those that then aren't avoided (and there will always be some) are true to the term "accidents".

Oh, and the Richmond Park safety at 20mph thing - the speed limit is only a very minor part of it, the fact that the park doesn't attract traffic volumes because it's generally a slower point to point than the roads outside of the park that go to the same places is the primary.

posted by the-yorkshire-p... [179 posts]
27th July 2011 - 9:29

like this
Like (0)

Nothing's a guarantee of effectiveness. Not everyone's confident enough to take up the primary position and fight off a lorry, and that shouldn't be a condition of being allowed to cycle on public roads. Even experienced cyclists can get caught out by traffic; many of the people that have died this year have been day-in-day-out commuters, well used to mixing it with traffic.

Fitting sensors and extra mirrors or cameras to eliminate blind spots is fairly easy and cheap. So I'll ask again: why isn't their implementation being enforced?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7039 posts]
27th July 2011 - 9:55

like this
Like (0)

So, basically, what dullard and his supporters think is that cyclists are entirely rsponsible for their own safety.

By the same measure, presumably we should all wear bullet proof vests - after all, if a gansta shoots us, without a vest we have only ourselves to blame?

In most civilised countries, the legal and moral responsibility for the safety of more vulnerable citizens falls on the people who pose the danger to those citizens. In many respects the same is true here, but for some bizarre reason, as soon as we are talking about roads and motor vehicles, that rule falls away.

It is common sense to take care of yourself on the road, but please, stop implying that this absolves others from taking care after you!

posted by Paul M [294 posts]
27th July 2011 - 10:11

like this
Like (0)

Paul M wrote:
So, basically, what dullard and his supporters think is that cyclists are entirely rsponsible for their own safety.

No, absolutely not, but in the absence of substantial and effective policing and enforcement of poor road behaviour by *any* road user, it's probably the best you've got.

And frankly, I'd rather rely on my instinct for self preservation than hope that someone is watching the camera in their cab, not putting on their make-up, not spilt their coffee etc.

When I am on my bike on the road, I am entirely responsible for my safety and the safety of other road users who may be affected by my actions. That goes the same for any road user.

posted by the-yorkshire-p... [179 posts]
27th July 2011 - 10:33

like this
Like (0)

Well said, Paul M. A change to the Dutch approach to legal responsibility when using the roads would be wonderful. It is a proven approach.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
27th July 2011 - 10:34

like this
Like (0)

Er, I mean the UK adopting the Dutch approach, not altering the Dutch approach.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
27th July 2011 - 10:35

like this
Like (0)

I think we need to be talking about banning HGVs from City Centres entirely during daylight hours. Dangerous, Polluting and add to the already shocking traffic levels. Employ someone to recive your deliveries at night - or use a Van (pref electric!)

posted by BoredMan [48 posts]
27th July 2011 - 16:56

like this
Like (0)

Am so glad to see all these comments, the CTC and many other organisations have been pushing negative comments around for years now and to be quite honest I'm fed up of it. Dullard you are completely correct we can't just keep bashing the people driving tin cans, we are all road uses and need to respect each other. Banning any vehicle from the roads at any time is just not feasible unless you are going to get up at midnight to move house, receive that new washing machine or have your bins collected, stop and think for 5 minutes BoredMan before you post. Yes the roads are dangerous but that is only because humans are driving, cycling and walking along them. We need to get more people cycling and these negative articles proferred by famous cyclists and certain cycling organisations are doing the opposite.

posted by russcutts [17 posts]
27th July 2011 - 19:05

like this
Like (0)

DRIVING HEAVY GOODS VEHICLES requires a special license BUT do they test the mental processes of the candidate ?

So often the HGV driver is overweight through neglect and the heavier person is usually a slow thinker and "Cocooned " in their cab are too busy to think of their responsibilities to the community at large !

Too often the vehicle wears the owners details but the driver does not consider they are a "Bad advert" for their employer .

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 [372 posts]
27th July 2011 - 19:37

like this
Like (3)

Just a comment from down in New Zealand I think the same issues exist here.
We have only 4 and a half million people and probably a small cycling population altho it is growing at a very high rate.
In one accident last year 5 cyclists were killed by a young driver on an open road.There are an amazing number of urban fatalities many at intersections.
I also teach construction worksite traffic management to contractors and am amazed by the attttude of many to cyclists, they do not rate cyclists highly.
Drivers in NZ are arrogant to cyclists but I see many cyclists the same.
I see comments about safety devices on vehicles, cycle lanes etc, but thats hogwash its all about changing behaviour.
I recently cycled in France, Spain & Italy and driver behavour to me was superb in return I showed my appreciation acknoledging drivers and trying to display a positive & direct cycling behaviour.
The solution to find is how do you get that relationship working in the UK,Aussie, NZ and the USA. Personally its like trying to introduce health & safety into work places, it is about education & awareness & constant reinforcement it will involve a lot of hard work getting this across to all road users
(Unfortunatly the web site would not open John Snows blog to read his comments).

posted by chromo1990 [43 posts]
28th July 2011 - 2:19

like this
Like (0)

Paul M wrote:
So, basically, what dullard and his supporters think is that cyclists are entirely rsponsible for their own safety.

Yes, of course they are. You have to make sure, double sure and then check again. You can't just assume someone has your back, that's true in life as well.

Of course there are many other factors to consider, but essentially you look after yourself on the road, you make yourself as safe as you can, don't take stupid risks for the sake of getting to work earlier. The rest is in the lap of the gods but again that is life my friend.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
29th July 2011 - 10:11

like this
Like (0)

BoredMan wrote:
I think we need to be talking about banning HGVs from City Centres entirely during daylight hours. Dangerous, Polluting and add to the already shocking traffic levels. Employ someone to recive your deliveries at night - or use a Van (pref electric!)

Remember London putting in place the congestion zone?

It was bliss the first week, oh how we cycled with gay abandon at the thought of less traffic on the road. Then i woke up and after a few months it was as congested as before, except drivers were more pissed off than usual as they had to pay a fiver to drive on the same street as they had a month earlier. There is an argument for stopping heavy goods vehicles through city centres at peak times for all the things you mentioned but that is heavy tippers and artics, not vans and small trucks. How would you enforce that, on what grounds?

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
29th July 2011 - 10:19

like this
Like (1)

Paul M wrote:

By the same measure, presumably we should all wear bullet proof vests - after all, if a gansta shoots us, without a vest we have only ourselves to blame?

There's nothing like a forum for taking something totally out of context is there?

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
29th July 2011 - 10:21

like this
Like (1)