The Daily Mail yesterday warned of a rise in the number of pedestrians injured in collisions involving a cyclist on a day when two incidents during rush hour in London showed starkly that both are vulnerable types of road users – with a female cyclist dying of injuries sustained after being dragged under a coach, and a pedestrian killed by a lorry.
The two incidents happened 15 minutes apart and within a mile of each other. Earlier on Monday morning 30-year-old Anita Szucs had been killed as she rode her bike home from work in Edmonton, with the driver of the vehicle that hit her failing to stop.
Those are just three incidents from one day in one city, but in the past week alone, dozens of newspaper reports across the country tell of people on foot or on bike whose lives have been cut short or irrevocably changed due to injury caused by the actions of someone behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
The Mail’s article was based on analysis of Department for Transport (DfT) road casualty statistics by data analysis company Mapmechanics. It starts by saying, “The number of accidents between cyclists and pedestrians has soared by almost 50 per cent in seven years.
"One crash on pavements or roads now takes place every day as the number of cyclists increases. The total number of accidents rose to 408 in 2015, according to official figures, a significant jump from the 274 in 2009."
Collisions between cyclists and pedestrians can happen in a variety of locations, and for a number of reasons – anyone cycling on a road in a city will have had someone step out in front of them without looking, for example – although the focus in this type of article always seems to come down to the perceived danger caused by people cycling on the pavement.
The Mail flagged that up too. Despite official figures including pedestrians injured in a collision with a cyclist while crossing the road, for example, it highlights the initiative by police in London not to fine cyclists riding on the pavement in Primrose Hill but to find out why they feel unsafe riding on the road.
That approach is in fact in line with longstanding Home Office guidance repeated more recently by the DfT, that fixed penalty notices should only be issued in such circumstances when the person riding on the pavement is doing so inconsiderately, or is causing a danger to others.
Sam Jones of the charity Cycling UK was quoted in the Mail’s article, saying “We appreciate the concern but we cannot agree [pavement cycling] is the danger many believe it must be.”
We took a look at the numbers from the DfT’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain Report for 2015 to put them into context.
In that year, of 406 collisions in which a cyclist and someone on foot was involved – slightly lower than the Mail’s 408, possibly due to subsequent database updates – two pedestrians were killed and 100 seriously injured. The other 304 sustained slight injuries.
There were more incidents involving most other types of vehicle – 16,415 involving cars, for example, leaving 3,433 pedestrians seriously injured and 212 dead.
And even when the total number of casualties was lower, the outcome could be significantly different. There were 381 pedestrian casualties involving a heavy goods vehicle, with 105 seriously injured – but 44 people lost their lives.
One point that seldom gets mentioned when it comes to perception of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians is that it is not in a bike rider’s interests to crash in the first place.
The same statistics show that in 2015, 107 cyclists were injured following a collision with a pedestrian – 18 of those seriously.
That point wasn’t mentioned in a follow-up piece today on the Daily Mail’s website written by Brendan O’Neill and which uses those figures published yesterday for a verbal assault on cyclists that, even by the newspaper’s standards, is as vitriolic in its rhetoric as it is ignorant of the facts.
The headline alone, and the bullet points that follow it, should give you reason enough to steer clear.
Is ANYWHERE safe from the lycra louts? They've got cycle lanes galore. But now they're on pavements and jumping lights - and mowing down pedestrians
- Smug cyclists are far more likely to send your blood boiling then other motorists
- There's been a 50 per cent rise in pedestrian accidents in the last seven years
- A growing common sense among bikers is that cyclists should rule the road
- Their arrogant attitude isn't helped by officials who pander to them
Maybe we should do a Spinal Tap and turn the headline of our article linked below up to 11?
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.