Cycling is growing in Britain and it's getting safer too …

That's the CTC's interpretation of the latest road traffic stats for the UK

by Tony Farrelly   June 26, 2009  

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Cycling is growing and it's getting safer too is the CTC's interpretation of two sets of Department for Transport figures released yesterday.

Combining the statistics for road casualties in 2008 with a separate set of statistics on Traffic Speeds and Congestion does seem to show that while cycling grew by 12 per cent (taking a rolling three year average) reported cycling casualties stayed almost static with a 1 per cent, while for 2008 the number of cyclists killed actually went down.

CTC policy co-ordinator Chris Peck said: “Official statistics prove that cycling is on the rise in Britain, yet casualties don’t appear to be rising at the same rate. This bears out CTC’s Safety in Numbers campaign which shows increased levels of cycling and safety go hand in hand.”

Speaking to road.cc, Chris Peck acknowledged that there was probably significant under-reporting of cycling casualties, but pointed out that any under-reporting was likely to remain at a fairly constant level from year to year, "it's possible that in reality there is a greater increase in cycling".

Indeed these figures only count cycle traffic on the road* – so growth in traffic on off road cycle paths will not be counted, earlier this month Sustrans it's own traffic count for journeys on the National Cycle Network (cycling and walking) which it said showed that the network now accounted for over a million journeys per day. Sustrans also called for the NCN to be given the same legal status as roads.

Although the cover of the DfT's Traffic Speeds and Congestion report features pictures of cyclists, pedal power doesn't feature that much inside, that's mainly because this is a report into traffic speed and congestion over the whole road network and it's about how far vehicles travelled and at what speed, counting traffic by Billion Vehicle Kilometres. According to the DfT's estimate motorised traffic accounted for 508.9 BVK last year and cycling 4.7 – up from 4.2 the year before.

Cycling was the only traffic sector to grow, for the first time since 1979 motorised traffic fell last year by 4.1 BVK against 2007 a percentage drop of 0.8 per cent. The likely causes being last year's steep rise in fuel prices and the effects of the credit crunch.
The next edition of the National Travel Survey should give a much clearer picture of cycling growth, it measures how people make their journeys – rather than the length and speed of journeys.

In the meantime if you want to help the CTC build momentum behind its Safety in Numbers campaign, which shows that cycling gets safer the more people do it they want all cyclists to ask their MPs to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM 1431)** which has been tabled by Gwyn Prosser MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, in support of CTC’s ‘Safety in Numbers’ campaign.

*The total road length in Great Britain in 2008 was estimated to be 394.5
thousand kilometres. Motorways accounted for 0.9 per cent, ‘A’ roads
11.8 and minor roads 87.3 per cent of the total. 
Source: Road Statistics 2008: Traffic, Speed and Congestions - DfT
 

** SAFETY IN NUMBERS FOR CYCLISTS06.05.2009

Prosser, Gwyn
That this House acknowledges the evidence that cyclists gain from safety in numbers, in other words cycling gets safer the more cyclists there are; welcomes the target in the Government's draft Road Safety Strategy to halve the risks of cycling within 10 years; believes that this target can best be met by also aiming for substantial increases in cycle use in order to maximise the safety in numbers effect, thereby also benefiting health, communities, the economy and the environment; urges that the Road Safety Strategy should tackle the fears which deter people from cycling, such as traffic speeds, irresponsible driving, hostile roads and junctions and lorries; and calls for cycle training to be made available to people of all ages so as to achieve more as well as safer cycling.