An academic who specialises in cycling says the supposed ‘safety in numbers’ effect does not appear to be working in Hackney, the London borough with the highest proportion of cyclists, and has also highlighted “worrying trends” there in collisions involving vulnerable road users.
Dr Rachel Aldred of the University of Westminster, who launched The Near Miss Project in 2014, analysed Stats19 road traffic casualty data from police reports for Hackney Cyclists.
She found that the number of hit and run collisions in the borough is rising, with one taking place every other day, and that a motorist failing to stop after a crash in which someone has been injured was a particular problem in Hackney.
In Great Britain as a whole, Dr Aldred said that a little more than one in ten road traffic collisions resulting in injury was related to a hit and run.
In London, the proportion rose to roughly one in seven, and in Hackney to one in five – and one in four in the borough where a cyclist or pedestrian was the victim.
The past decade has also seen a big rise in the number of cyclists injured on Hackney’s streets, which stood at 250 in 2015 compared to the 134 recorded 10 years’ earlier.
Dr. Aldred said: “Clearly cycling in Hackney has grown during this period, perhaps roughly doubling, but it’s a concern that there doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘safety in numbers’ effect for cyclists – in other words it hasn’t got much safer per trip, as cycling has gone up.”
Back in 2009, broadcaster Jon Snow, who is president of Cycling UK, launched its Safety in Numbers research at Parliament.
The charity, then known as CTC, said that its research suggested that doubling the amount of cycling would lead to a reduction of around a third in the risks associated with riding a bike, partly because riders would become more ‘visible’ to drivers – who would also be more likely to be cyclists themselves.
Hackney Cyclists co-ordinator Jono Kenyon called for greater enforcement of traffic laws in the borough.
He said: “One of our three ‘asks’ for Hackney mayoral candidates was a higher priority for roads traffic policing. Hundreds of people are injured on Hackney’s roads every year while walking and cycling. Road traffic offences, from close passes to hit and runs, need to be tackled to help make our roads safer for everyone.”
Dr Aldred, who is a committee member of Hackney Cyclists, will be talking about her research at the group’s monthly meeting tonight, Wednesday 1 March, with all welcome to attend.
It takes place from 7.30 to 9.30 at the Pembury Community Centre, Atkins Square, Dalston Lane.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.