Casualty rates for vulnerable road users, including cyclists, are down - according to Department for Transport figures for April, May and June - but analysts have admitted that the wet weather masked the reality of the figures.
Although the rate for April to June 2012 was down on the same period of last year, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured rose by nine per cent from 2,950 in 2010/2011 to 3,210 in 2011/2012, the report reveals.
There was also a five per cent increase in pedestrians killed or seriously injured on the nation's roads comparing the same two periods.
Campaign groups responded strongly to the figures, saying that they showed how much more work there was to do on road safety.
The Institute of Advanced Motorist's director of policy and research, Neil Greig said: “In the six months before these results there were increases in the numbers killed and seriously injured. This drop has not made up for that. We need to do much more to turn this quarter’s figures into a trend. Upgrading roads, targeted safety campaigns and measures to improve road user awareness among new drivers are needed too."
“The drop in road casualties is really good news but the Department for Transport admits that it is likely to be linked to this year’s wet weather. We shouldn’t rely on a few months of dodgy weather to get cyclists and motorcyclists casualties down.”
Sustrans Policy Advisor Joe Williams said, “Yesterday the Minister [Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond MP] said the government would do what it takes to make our roads safer for cyclists. These figures provide a stark reminder that there is much more to do. It’s simply not right that the most vulnerable users are at an increasing risk on our roads.
“We hope that the Minister is preparing to turn his words into action and we look forward to working with him to make our streets safer for everyone.”
The DfT said: "Comparing Q2 2012 against Q2 2011 shows a six per cent fall in total deaths and serious injuries, and an 18 per cent fall in deaths alone. However, in general, single quarter comparisons should be treated with caution as data are more subject to distortion by short-term factors such as extreme weather. Q2 2012 saw extremely wet weather across England, which may affect comparison with earlier years."
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.