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London road casualty figures mirror national trends

Latest Transport for London figures show numbers of serious injuries falling, but minor injuries increasing

Following yesterday’s news about the Department for Transport national road casualty figures, the latest statistics for London show similar trends, with the number of deaths and serious injuries among cyclists falling – but an increase in minor injuries.

According to the latest Transport for London figures, in 2009 there were 13 cyclist fatalities in London, two down on the 2008 total of 15. This number seems relatively static – between 1994 and 1998 the average annual number of fatalities among cyclists was 14.8.

When it comes to serious injuries, the 420 in 2009 and 430 in 2008 compare relatively well with the annual average of 552 between 1994 and 1998.

But the number of cyclists sustaining minor injuries is on the rise, with 3,236 in 2009 compared to 2,757 in 2008 – although the annual average between 1994 and 1998 was 3,845.6.

These figures need to be considered in the context of the considerable rise in popularity of cycling there has been in London. TfL has quantified the increase in cycling at 117% on main (red route) roads from 2000 to 2010 – with most of this growth taking place since 2003.

A London Cycling Campaign spokesman said, “Changes in casualties definitely need to be related to cycling volumes. Cycling organisations have long argued that we need to be looking at casualty rates (taking into account mileage) rather than simply collision numbers.

“Data from the Netherlands and elsewhere, cited by CTC, suggests that there is a ‘safety in numbers’ effect with cycling and that as cycling grows the collision rates fall – the Netherlands and Denmark, where cycling levels are high, have much lower casualty rates than the UK.”

There are two other noteworthy statistics in the Transport for London figures. The first is the total numbers of casualties across all groups – drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, riders of motorbikes and scooters, and users of buses and all other vehicle types. Across all these categories, the numbers for all levels of injury are 27,979 for 2009, 28,153 for 2008 and an annual average of 45,681.2 between 1994 and 1998. This represents a fall of 39% between 1994-98 and 2009.

Another interesting figure comes from looking at the numbers of fatal and serious injuries sustained by pedestrians, drivers, cyclists and motorbike and scooter riders over the various comparison periods. In 2009 this figure was 3,227, in 2008 it was 3,526, and the annual average between 1994 and 1998 was 6,684, which is a fall of 52% from 1994-98 and 2009.

The Mayor for London has the following targets for reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the capital’s roads.

  • a 50% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured
  • a 50% reduction in the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed or seriously injured
  • a 40% reduction in the number of powered two wheeler users killed or seriously injured (unchanged)
  • a 60% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured
  • a 25% reduction in the slight casualty rate, expressed as the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine ( 

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Bikeylikey | 14 years ago

Boris has done and is doing a lot to imporove safety for cyclists. Do a 'Boris Johnson' search just on this site to see how much.

It just seems a bit kind of odd to be setting a 'target' of so many deaths and injuries. Why can't they just say they are going to do all they can to eliminate cycling accidents?

I suppose, as always, money is the main issue. Presumably they weigh up how much safety can be bought for how much money. Faced with the decision to spend, say, £5m of a limited budget on just the slight possibility that a non fatal accident might be avoided, they'd probably choose to spend the money elsewhere.

With unlimited funds, Boris would no doubt have separate cycle paths and cycle lanes separated from motor traffic by at least a kerb. It would also be a good idea, as Boris has suggested, to make cyclist awareness a part of the driving test. I'd add education for children in school, maybe cycling lessons for maybe an hour a month for two years at age 8-10, bikes provided by schools (could be used ones contributed by the public who don't need them any longer) or bring your own. Like an extended cycling proficiency course, but make it fun as well. This would set down an awareness and hopefully enjoyment of cycling for the future, and make for more cyclists. Crucially, it would aim at helping to make the children more aware of cycling, and cyclist's vulnerability, when they become drivers later on.

If you have any other ideas which Boris might benefit from, put them here and let's send them to him. Along with every other council leader in the country.

jova54 | 14 years ago

"Shouldn't the target be ZERO casualties and fatalities???"

Yes, of course it is over a period of time and by implementing strategies that improve the conditions for cyclists.

The ongoing problem is that of education for all road users and making vehicle drivers aware of their responsibilities and the damage they can do if they don't accept that cyclists have as much right on the shared roads as they do.

In a perfect world zero casualties is the default but like it or not accidents happen, the only way to ensure they don't is for everyone to stay at home at which point the country probably grinds to a halt!

As Oldridgeback commented, Good Targets Boris, lets now see how you're going to do it. Unfortunately Boris seems to be falling into the same old trap of believing targets solve problems. They don't, they just put off the need for actually doing anything till a bit later.

Bikeylikey | 14 years ago

Shouldn't the target be ZERO casualties and fatalities??? Looked at from a 'glass half full' perspective, a target of 50% reduction in cycling fatalities is like saying 'We are aiming at 6 or 7 cyclists being killed this year'.

OldRidgeback | 14 years ago

Good targets Boris, but how are you going to achieve them?

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