Barry Sheerman, who chairs Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, says more driver education needed

Nearly 600 cyclists in Britain were injured during 2011 after vehicle doors were opened in their path, a quarter up on two years earlier, according to figures obtained by an MP who chairs the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (PACTS). Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, said that more driver education was needed, including emphasising the need to check their mirrors for cyclists before opening the door.

Of the 594 cyclists hurt after hitting an open vehicle door, or swerving to avoid one – an increase of around 27 per cent on 2009’s figures – 92 were seriously injured and one was killed, reports Mail Online. In 2009, there were no fatalities, and 55 of the 468 cyclists reported hurt suffered serious injuries.

The cyclist killed would have been 25-year-old Sam Harding, who died when he was hit by a bus after swerving to avoid a car door that had been opened in his path on London’s Holloway Road. Last December, Kenan Aydogdu, the driver involved, was found not guilty of manslaughter in connection with the incident.

Since the data are compiled from official road casualty statistics, they will understate the true scale of the issue, since for example incidents that have not been reported to the police or where the cyclist did not have medical treatment will not have been included.

“Cycling is very popular,” said Mr Sheerman, who revealed the figures in Parliament. “It has come back again. All over the world, and certainly western Europe, it is fashionable again to cycle.

“It is true there are more cyclists but there are people who are not trained enough to look in their mirrors.

“It is an education challenge, we have got to raise awareness. It is much more likely that there is a quiet cyclist coming past you.

“There are worries about these figures,” he went on. “The number of serious injuries is up to more than 90 - a serious injury means you never walk without pain again.”

Stephen Hammond, Road Safety Minister at the Department for Transport, told Mail Online: “Cycling is good for your health and helps to reduce congestion so it’s great that more people are travelling on two wheels. 

“It is vital that drivers take care to look out for cyclists, whether they are in a parking space or on the move, as well as leaving them plenty of room on the road.

“The Government is investing an extra £107 million in cycling infrastructure, including £35 million to tackle dangerous junctions,” he added.

“We also launched our THINK! Let’s Look Out For Each Other campaign and are making it easier for councils to install trixi mirrors so drivers are better able to see cyclists.”

The Think Cyclist campaign, launched in September last year, came under criticism from cycling groups, none of which officially backed it despite some having been involved at the planning stage, as we reported here on road.cc.

A spokesman for national cyclists' organisation CTC said their opposition was partly due to the fact points emphasised in the campaign fell below the minimum standards required by the Highway Code, the suggestion that all cyclists should wear helmets at all times, and the small size of the budget allocated to it, £80,000, which is a fraction of that devoted to similar campaigns for motorcycle safety.

Mail Online added that PACTS will be launching a transport safety commission that will hear evidence on how to cut the number of deaths and injuries on the roads.

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.