Scotland's roads getting safer for everyone - except cyclists

Casualty figures for 2011 show no reduction in cyclist fatalities, serious injuries show sharp rise

by Simon_MacMichael   June 22, 2012  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight,

Casualty statistics released yesterday by Transport Scotland show that the country’s roads are getting safer for everyone – except cyclists, leading the country's Transport Minister to say that more action was needed to make conditions safer for bike riders. Total casualties as well as fatalities among car users, pedestrians and motorcyclists all fell during 2011, but cyclist casualties rose by 6 per cent compared to 2010, with the number of deaths remained unchanged at seven, but serious injuries showed a sharp rise. 

Overall, total road casualties were down by 4 per cent and fatalities fell by 11 per cent, with only cycling bucking that trend.

Commenting on the figures, Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown said that the government recognised that “more must be done to improve road safety for cyclists.

“Earlier this year I convened a special meeting of the road safety group to focus on cycle safety and we have launched our first ever TV advertising campaign, ‘Give Me Cycle Space’, aimed at encouraging drivers to look out for cyclists,” he continued.

“Bikeability Scotland will also give every school child the opportunity for on-road cycle training, and we are working closely with cycling organisations and lobby groups to increase and improve bike use in Scotland. 

“There is also a key role for local authorities in investing in 20 mph zones and cycling facilities.  

“We do not wish to see repeats of the recent accidents involving cyclists and our  collective efforts must be redoubled to make cycling a safe travel option,” Mr Brown concluded.

The seven cyclist fatalities in both 2011 and 2010 compare to five in 2009, but are below the 2004-08 average of nine cyclists killed each year.

The number of cyclists seriously injured perhaps gives the greatest cause for concern, with provisional figures for 2011 standing at 156, compared to 138 in 2010, an increase of 13 per cent.

In 2009, some 152 cyclists were seriously injured in Scotland, similar to the 2011 figures, but the latter show a 17 per cent jump on the 2004-08 average of 134.

Incidents resulting in slight injuries to cyclists are also on the rise, with the provisional figure of 824 recorded in 2011 up by 6 per cent on the previous year and 9 per cent on the 2004-08 average.

As Transport Scotland points out, the figures take no account of any shifts of modal share such as an increase in cycling, and there is evidence that more people are taking to two wheels for commuting.

A survey carried out by Lothian cycle campaign Spokes in November last year suggested that cycle commuters made up a fifth of all traffic on two key routes into the centre of Edinburgh during peak times.

The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland has a target of getting 10 per cent of all journeys in the country made by bicycle by 2020, although the organisers of April’s Pedal on Parliament warned that in order for that goal to be achieved, adequate funding had to be maintained and improvements needed to be made to the safety of cyclists.

Transport Scotland said that further analysis of the figures published yesterday will be provided in October in the publication Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2011.

10 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

*yawn* yet more utterly meaningless stats, figures with an element of passenger mile or I'm not interested - unfortunately the press are Sad

posted by smoothhound [39 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 10:47


You've got two typos in the first sentence "Transpirt Minister " and "biek riders"


djcritchley's picture

posted by djcritchley [181 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 10:57


I'm curious what data Spokes has collated on the use of Embra's cycle network. The former railway lines do cover a good deal of the city, but I know some commuters shun them due to the risk of mugging.


posted by OldRidgeback [2581 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 11:03


smoothhound wrote:
*yawn* yet more utterly meaningless stats, figures with an element of passenger mile or I'm not interested - unfortunately the press are Sad

this is comparing casualties on the same road network in consecutive years. The network hasn't changed significantly. Most casualties are down. Cyclist casualties are up.

I'm at a loss to why that's meaningless?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7856 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 11:10


It would have more meaning as a ratio of miles cycled to deaths or injuries, otherwise you're assuming bike usage is static (it's probably not). Seven people getting killed out of 100k commuting cyclists is worse than 7 out of 1m.

posted by Niall [38 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 11:27


Yes, it would have more meaning but unfortunately the way the stats are presented take no account of that, so we can only report what we have. This is a problem with casualty stats generally and not one confined to Scotland.

As mentioned in the article, Transport Scotland did point out that the stats take no account in any shifts in modal share (which would reflect any increase in cycling/decrease in car use for example).

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9510 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 11:52

1 Like

One other thing to ponder, if there has been a modal shift in Scotland away from cars leading to an increase in cycling there has surely also been an increase in walking too, but the total casualty figures for pedestrians also fell.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 12:00


Because of what Niall eloquently said.

I know this how the figures are always presented but without the 'passenger mile' factored in it doesn't really answer any of the important questions such as "is cycling becoming more dangerous?" or even "is driving getting safer?". In this case the press (and I'm not saying Smile ) will emphatically say yes to both questions when nothing of the sort can be inferred from the data.

posted by smoothhound [39 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 12:23


I know vehicle congestion in Edinburgh is far worse now than 10-15 years ago, with the much criticised tram project only partly responsible. Parking in the city is a major problem for motorists, with fewer spaces than required. The numbers of those cycling in the city do seem to have increased. Whether this increase is being outstripped by the rise in accidents is hard to tell from data presented. The difficulties faced by motorists in Embra would tend to suggest that some would have switched to cycling, but more research would be required to determine this accurately.


posted by OldRidgeback [2581 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 15:15


The sad thing is. When it was on BBC Scotland on Weds night no mention was made of vunerable road users, just that road deaths regarding motorists was down and a spiel on how safe todays vehicles were. The increase in deaths of vunerable road users was buried deep inside the local rags the following morning. A missed opportunity for the beeb to highlight on prime time tv that our roads are not safe for people not protected in a cage of metal.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1186 posts]
22nd June 2012 - 23:56