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Worst January for cycling deaths since 2008—and it's only halfway through

13 fatalities in 15 days

In a grim start to 2015, this January has seen more cyclist fatalities on Britain's roads than in any year since 2008.

Thirteen riders have died so far this year, the most since 2008, when the whole of January saw 14 cyclist fatalities.

Since 2003 the Department for Transport's annual report on road casualties has included a breakdown of casualties by month and road user type.

Those figures reveal that the average number of cyclist fatalities in the first month of the year is 9.8, so by the middle of the month you'd expect five or so deaths.

It's worth bearing in mind that the average masks a large variation, from 16 in 2006 down to just 3 in 2010.

Nevertheless, it's hard to avoid the feeling that there's been something unusual about the first two weeks of 2015. Only an expert statistical analysis would reveal if that's the case though, as happened when six riders lost their lives in two weeks in London in 'Black November' 2013.

In a paper for the Royal Statistical Society journal Significance, Jody Aberdein and David Spiegelhalter concluded that in an eight year period there was only a 1 in 40 chance that 6 riders would die in a fortnight in London. There really was something unusual about that spate of deaths.

The relatively mild start to the year may be a factor, with the general lack of snow and ice perhaps enticing more riders out to risk the short days and long mornings and evenings. 

Prof Spiegelhalter made the mathematical tools he and Dr Aberdein used to analyse the London spate of deaths available on his blog. If anyone who's a lot better at maths than us would like to apply them to this latest series of fatalities, please let us know.

Cyclist deaths in January

Year Deaths
2013   9
2012  11
2011 9
2010 3
2009 6
2008 14
2007 14
2006 16
2005 7
2004 7
2003 12

The first two deaths of the year occurred on January 1. In St Leonards, East Sussex, Jamie Murray, a 23-year-old scaffolder from Hastings, died after being involved in a collision with an orange Ford Focus on the A259 at around 4am.

Later that day 32-year-old James Stephenson, a father of two young girls who worked as head chef at Applegarth Farm near Grayshott, died on the A3 in Hampshire at 7.30am.

On January 2, 49-year-old Karen Clayton was involved in a collision with a pedestrian in Altincham. She died from her injuries two days later.

The following day, Thomas Goodwin, 72, was taken to hospital with head injures after a collision with a silver Ford Ranger on Walwyn Road, Colwall, Worcestershire. He died from his injuries on January 5.

No other vehicle is believed to have been involved in the death of storyteller Andy Hunter on January 5. The Hereford Times reports that the 60-year-old was found by the side of the road in Michaelchurch Escley. He died from heart failure.

On the same day, 47-year-old Darren Schofield was riding on the A650 in Tingley, West Yorkshire at 4:10pm when he was in collision with a black Vauxhall Corsa being driven in the same direction. He died of his injuries on January 14.

On January 6, Andrew Wolfindale, 35, from Walgrave in the West Midlands was struck by an HGV on Tollbar Island in Coventry at around 6pm and died from his injuries in hospital later that evening, according to West Midlands Police.

Paul Miller, a 46-year-old primary school headteacher, was pronounced dead at the scene on January 8 after a collision with a black Fiat on the B3147 near Dorchester.

The next death came at around 10:00pm on January 12 when an as-yet-unnamed 43 year old man from Gloucester was killed in a collision with a lorry and several cars on the Golden Valley Bypass near Junction 11 of the M5.

The following day, January 13, Artur Piotr Ruszel, 45, died after a collision with a Honda Jazz travelling in the same direction on Upper Brook Street, Manchester at around 7.36am.

Later that day, an as-yet-unnamed woman was found suffering from head injuries on Old Bath Road, Cheltenham shortly after 11.30am. The 52-year-old was taken to hospital and later discharged. The ambulance service was called to the woman's home on the morning of January 14 and she later died.

At 2.35pm the same day, 59-year-old Robert Betteley died after a collision with a coach on the A530 Middlewich Road near Nantwich, Cheshire. He was taken to Leighton Hospital but died a short time later. Police arrested a 57-year-old man n suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

At 7:40am today, January 15, an as-yet-unnamed man died after a collision with a bus on the A1231 slip road from Spire Road. No further details have been made available.

Editorial note

We are aware that some readers find reports of death and serious injuries to cyclists distressing. We will continue to report them from police reports, but unless there is something unusual about the particular incident, we won't promote them through social media.

We believe every cycling death is one too many. The number of deaths and serious injuries has declined in recent years, but the Dutch experience shows that the rate could be much lower. We encourage readers to join organisations such as the CTC, LCC or your local cycling campaign group to fight for a safer environment for cycling.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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