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Minor injuries and cyclist deaths are down in Greater Manchester - but there's a significant rise in serious injuries to riders

Safety concerns must be addressed before Manchester can be a cycling city, say campaigners

Minor injuries and deaths among greater Manchester’s cyclists are down on ten years ago - but serious injuries have increased by a quarter, according to Greater Manchester Police.

Although the number of collisions involving bikes are down 30 per cent since 20004, serious injuries - anything more than a sprain or a graze - have risen by 23 per cent.

There were 90 serious injuries in 2013, compared with 74 in 2004, while the number of collisions involving bikes fell from 804 in 2004 to 562 in 2013.

In the same period, cyclist deaths in Manchester have fallen from five in 2004 to 1 in 2013.

Pete Abel, a volunteer with Manchester’s Love Your Bike campaign, told the Manchester Evening News: “The reduction in the smaller injuries is obviously welcome.

“But any increase in serious injuries is a worry.

“We still have serious concerns about the state of the roads and traffic enforcement in Greater Manchester.
I was nearly taken out by someone using a mobile phone on the Mancunian Way.”

Eleanor Roaf, North West Regional Director for Sustrans said: “Any increase in cycling accidents is a huge cause for concern. Manchester has ambitions to be a cycling city, and there are certainly more people cycling, but road culture and safety levels need to improve before we can become another Copenhagen or Amsterdam.”

Dave Newton, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Transport Strategy Director, said “Any injury is one too many and we are currently doing a lot of work to make cycling as safe as possible. This is a key priority for us as we work to encourage even more people to travel by bike.”

Earlier this year we reported how The Times had claimed that cyclists were just as dangerous to pedestrians as drivers.

According to transport correspondent Phillip Pank, analysis of the 2012 road accident figures published by the Department for Transport reveals: “When serious injuries are measured as a proportion of distance travelled, cyclists injured 21 pedestrians per billion km travelled in 2012 compared with 24 pedestrians injured by drivers.”

We drilled down into the numbers a little to bring you this analysis:

The national travel survey says the average person travelled 6,691 miles in 2012. There are 60 million people in the UK, so that's just over 400 billion miles.

Of that distance, 3 percent is walked so that's 12 billion miles of walking. For the sake of argument, let’s say that half of that is in the kind of urban environments The Times is talking about.

There were 79 pedestrians killed or seriously injured (KSI) by bikes in urban areas in 2012, so that’s one KSI per 75 million miles walked.

By contrast, there were 4,679 pedestrian KSIs involving motor vehicles - one KSI per 1.25 million miles walked.
That means for every mile you walk, you are 60 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by a driver than a cyclist.

Another criticism of The Times’ analysis, and one that the paper touches on, is that the injuries sustained by pedestrians who are hit by cyclists are likely to be less severe than injuries to those who are hit by drivers.

The DfT’s classification of serious injury is:

Serious injury: An injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an “in-patient”, or any of the following injuries whether or not they are detained in hospital: fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, burns (excluding friction burns), severe cuts, severe general shock requiring medical treatment and injuries causing death 30 or more days after the accident.
An injured casualty is recorded as seriously or slightly injured by the police on the basis of information available within a short time of the accident. This generally will not reflect the results of a medical examination, but may be influenced according to whether the casualty is hospitalised or not. Hospitalisation procedures will vary regionally.
So a broken collarbone or mild concussion comes under the same heading as multiple broken bones and severe brain damage.

On the basis of its pedestrian-injuries-per-billion-vehicle-miles analysis, The Times concedes that “drivers are five times more likely than cyclists to kill a pedestrian.” It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that they are also far more likely to inflict the most severe 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.

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