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Cycling deaths down as London's roads now safest "since records began"

Cycling deaths down and the capital's roads are getting safer for cyclists...

New figures released by Transport for London and City Hall show that last year the capital's roads were the safest since casualty records began in the 1970s with the total number of people killed dipping below 150 for the first time.

Last year, 126 people died on London's roads a 32 per cent drop from the 185 people killed in 2009, 10 cyclists lost their lives in London in 2010 down from 13 the year before – although the number of cyclists seriously injured went up from 420 to 457, as did the number of slightly injured - up to 3540 a 9 per cent rise on 2009, two of the few statistics going in the wrong direction in last year's figures – something touched upon by London's Mayor, Boris Johnson when the announced the new figures:

"London's roads are now much safer than they were a decade ago and the Metropolitan Police, London Boroughs and Transport for London all deserve praise as other countries look to our lead.

'But there is still much more to be done, especially around the safety of cyclists on our streets, and that is exactly why we continue to fund road safety schemes across the Capital."

Last year the Mayor announced that he would be allocating an extra £4m pounds spread over 3 years to 13 outer London Biking Boroughs - last week he announced how much each was to get, the money will be used says TfL "To create cycle hubs and safer cycling environments in Outer London. This funding will help boroughs engage the local community in cycling, create better cycle infrastructure and parking as well as making cycling safer generally." The money works out to an average of £307,000 per borough.

As yet there seem to be no plans to reinstate the London Orbital cycle route that would have connected cycle routes in the outer London borough which was axed by the present Mayor to pay for his flagship hire bike scheme.

Transport for London has also allocated £14.8m to be spent on road safety schemes in general - some of which is also likely to be spent on measures to improve safety for cyclists. Commenting on this Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said:

"Road safety is something that TfL takes exceptionally seriously.

"The £14.8m we will be directly spending on road safety schemes across London during 2011/12 will look to build on the tremendous achievements we have achieved in the last ten years, as well as further reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the Capital's roads every year."

On 2009 figures London's roads were already amongst the safest in the country with a figure of 24 deaths per million people compared to the national average of 38, by comparison the figures for Sweden are 39 per million, the Netherlands are 44 per million, Germany 51, France 66, and the USA 111.

The figures for 2009 in particular show an impressive drop in casualty numbers across the board – although it is also worth noting the recent economic downturn is likely to have had an effect, a phenomenon noted by the Department for Transport when it announced the national figures. Traffic levels across the country having dropped slightly an in particular for some classes of vehicle - lorries and van, which are involved in a disproportionate number of casualty incidents. One other possible factor to note in London's success is the average speed that traffic move in the capital which has been dropping for much of the last two decades.

London's achievement in reducing road casualties is nonetheless impressive, especially when viewed over the longer term – the overall numbers of deaths on the its roads have almost halved since the late 90s while even allowing for last year's rise in the number of seriously injured cyclists, the number of riders killed and seriously injured on the capital's roads (KSIs) has fallen by 18 per cent since the mid to late 90s while at the same time the numbers of cyclists on the road has grown massively. According to TfL's figures the number of daily cycle trips on its road network has risen by 150 per cent since 2000, (in 2010 there was a 15 per cent year on year rise in cycle trips), while the number of deaths per cycling trip has dropped by 60 per cent over the corresponding period. The figures would cseem to back up the central idea of the CTC's Safety in Numbers campaign, namely that the more cyclists there are on the roads the safer cycling becomes.

Drilling down further in to the figures for cycling, it can be seen that 77 per cent (3120) of cycling casualties were male while 33 per cent were female which roughly reflects the gender balance of cyclists on the capital's roads, however the TfL figures do not offer a breakdown by gender on fatalities which we suspect would show that a disproportionate number of women riders are dying on London's roads.

The figures also break the casualty figures down by borough and while both inner and outer London share the same per centage rise - 9 per cent overall there are wide variations between the boroughs some of the outer London Boroughs actually saw some quite high percentage rises in cycling casualties, but they were coming off a much lower base - Barking and Dagenham saw a 57 per cent jump in cycling casualties - up to 54.
In inner London Camden saw a 40 per cent rise in cycling casualties year on year up to 234, while neighboring Islington saw a mere 1 per cent rise – although the actual number of casualties was almost the same at 232 – the borough with the most cycling casualties was Westminster – 308 up 2 per cent from 2009. The full document can be downloaded from the TfL website.

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.

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