There will be more deaths of cyclists and pedestrians on the roads in Scotland than car users for the first time within a few years, experts say.
Car casualties are declining sharply, and as people start cycling and walking more, transport experts say that safety priorities must be adjusted to ensure the safety of more vulnerable road users.
The Scotsman reports that statistics, being highlighted by the Scottish Transport Studies Group think tank," reveal that the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured in Scotland last year increased by 10 per cent from 504 to 556, while the figure for cyclists went up by 12 per cent, from 145 to 163 – making a combined total of 719.
"By contrast, the casualty toll among car drivers and passengers fell by 16 per cent, from 1,007 to 845."
Derek Halden, chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Scotland, said the casualty trend must be halted by making walking and cycling safer.
“Long-term trends show that we are on track to see pedestrian fatal and serious casualties overtake car user casualties within a year or so,” he said.
“If the recession continues to bite, we will have more people walking and less driving, so this might happen sooner rather than later.”
Halden, also the director of Edinburgh-based transport consultancy DHC, added: “Far too little has been done for pedestrians and there are few towns in Scotland where parents can feel relaxed about a child walking to the local shop or to the park, given the lack of safe routes.”
Halden said far more spending was required on improving walking routes, which accounted for 80 per cent of journeys.
“Most European countries have got their pedestrian casualties under control, and pedestrian casualties is a particularly Scottish problem – much worse than England,” he added.
Keith Irving, head of Living Streets Scotland said: “Every death or injury on our roads is a tragedy. We still need to ensure our roads are safer for the most vulnerable road users, and the fact that an increasing percentage of serious casualties are pedestrians illustrates the scale of the challenge.
“The 12 per cent increase in pedestrian serious injuries in 2011 should serve as a wake-up call to the government and local authorities that changes need to be made to ensure all road users are safe on our streets.” The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency conceded that more improvements could be made to cut deaths and injuries.
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.