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.
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.