On a day when cycle safety is in the spotlight, the latest quarterly road casualty statistics released by the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal that while total cyclist casualties from June to September 2011 were virtually unchanged from 12 months earlier, there was an alarming 7 per cent rise in the number of bike riders killed or seriously injured.
Overall road casualties in the period continue to show a strong downward trend, falling by 5 per cent compared to the equivalent quarter in 2010, but not when it comes to cyclists, who again are the only class of road users among whom there has not been a reduction.
During the quarter, there were 5,470 cyclist casualties, just four higher than in the comparable months of 2010. That figure includes slight injuries, but it is the 7 per cent increase in the numbers killed or seriously injured during the three-month period that gives most cause for concern.
Looking at the year-on-year picture, in the 12 months to September 2011, total cyclist casualties rose 4 per cent, with an increase in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured, which was up by 8 per cent.
With the snowfalls experienced across Britain in late 2010 preventing many from taking to their bikes, but milder weather towards the end of 2011, the final quarter’s figures for the year could also show an increase when they are published.
As the chart above shows, while indexed casualty numbers for all road users other than cyclists are falling, the reverse isn’t the case for bike riders, and the gap is widening.
While increased numbers of people cycling may partly explain the rise, the absence of up-to-date statistics on cycle usage and difficulty of establishing precise trends at national level makes it impossible to say with any certainty, and there does seem to be a general perception that the roads are becoming more dangerous for cyclists.
Reacting to the latest figures, Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the road safety charity IAM, said: “It is extremely concerning that cyclists’ casualties are not reducing and this is something the government and local councils must act must act on. This will mean changes to road layouts, more cycle training and promoting better awareness among drivers.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.