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2013 London cycling casualty figures show sharp drop in serious injuries - but death rate remains unchanged

TfL casualty stats divide opinion - Sustrans says it’s a “sad truth” that cyclist deaths aren’t falling in London

Figures released today by Transport for London (TfL) back up what London's Mayor Boris Johnson said was a signigicant drop in serious injuries to cyclists on London's roads last year. However according to TfL's figures the death rate for cyclists on London's roads was unchanged last year giving ammunition to the Mayor's critics.

The sustainable transport charity Sustrans has said that it is a “sad truth” that while the number of cyclists seriously injured on London’s roads fell sharply in 2013, there was no change in how many lost their lives, with 14 killed during the year, the same as in the preceding 12 months.

Last month, Mayor of London Boris Johnson hailed what he termed a “significant drop” in the number of people seriously injured while riding bikes on the city’s streets during the year, which stood at 475 during the year, down 28 per cent on 2012.

Those figures have been confirmed today by Transport for London in its annual report on Casualties in Greater London, which also reveals that there was almost no change in the total number of cyclists injured or killed in the city once slight injuries were taken into account.

That figure of 4,623 represents a 0.2 per cent increase on the prior year, with all other classes of road users other than passengers in buses and coaches, or occupants of vehicles not otherwise classified, registering a decrease.

Cyclists accounted for 17 per cent of all deaths and injuries, compared to 19 per cent for pedestrians and 16.6 per cent for people on powered two wheelers – motorbikes and scooters – and 37.7 per cent for car occupants.

The highest death toll was seen among pedestrians, with 65 fatalities representing almost half the total of 132, and 773 suffered serious injuries. Among those on powered two wheelers, 22 lost their lives and 488 were seriously injured.

In the case of car occupants, almost 97 per cent of the 10,185 casualties were classified as slight, with 310 serious injuries and 25 deaths.

Compared to the 2005-09 average, cyclist fatalities during 2013 were down by 16 per cent – the lowest drop among all the identified road user groups. Deaths and serious injuries of bike riders were up by the same percentage, with cyclists the only group to register an increase, and slight injuries rose by 52 per cent.

Matt Winfield, Sustrans’ Deputy London Director, said: “The broad picture of these results is very encouraging and we commend TfL for their progress on road safety this year.
“However under this 23% reduction is hiding the sad truth that cycling fatalities have remained stagnant over the last year, frozen at 14 people killed per year on London’s roads.

“It’s telling that the most serious type of collisions with cyclists (often with HGVs) has not gotten any better,” he continued.

“If TfL is to meet its target to cut the number of casualties by 40 per cent by 2020, the Mayor must also immediately increase restrictions on how and where HGVs operate in the capital.

“It is important and challenging to move freight in this city but too often we see heavy vehicles, half empty, driving on very narrow roads.’

“Despite overall gains we must all act urgently to put an end to the needless injury and loss of life,” he added.

TfL’s report, which is compiled from STATS19 data gathered by the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police, provides a detailed analysis of where collisions involving cyclists happen, and the circumstances surrounding them.

Here are some of the key figures relating to cycling:

• Men, who according to TfL account for 72 per cent of trips by bikes in London, made up 77 per cent of cyclist casualties.

• Among young road users, aged 16-24, cyclists represented 14 per cent of casualties compared to 39 per cent for car occupants and 18 per cent for powered two wheeler users.

• Figures for car occupants and users of powered two wheelers were similar among older road users aged 25-59, at 38 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, but 21 per cent of all casualties in that age group were cyclists.

• By borough, the strongest increases in cycling casualties in Inner London were seen in Greenwich, up 38 per cent, and Lambeth, with a 15 per cent increase. The biggest falls came in the City of London, down 16 per cent, and Hammersmith & Fulham, with an 11 per cent drop.

• In Outer London, where the total number of cyclist casualties tends to be smaller meaning that year-on-year variations need to be treated with particular caution, the biggest jump was recorded in Sutton, up 59 per cent. In Hillingdon, casualties dropped 31 per cent.

• Of the 5,181 pedestrians killed or injured, bicycles were involved in 227 incidents – 4 per cent of the total. Cars accounted for 3,282 pedestrian casualties, followed by powered two wheelers (495), goods vehicles (452), buses or coaches (342) and taxis/private hire vehicles (341).

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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andycoventry | 110 posts | 9 years ago

Data is compared to the 2005-2009 average. Since then cycle usage has increased massively, so, the figures are only directly comparable when weighted to account for the increased volume of cycles on the road.

If the number of cyclists on the road has doubled over this period, the exposure to risk must have increased accordingly. Its not inconcievable to expect the number of collisions to increase by a similar number which doesn't seem to have happened.

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