Figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT) today reveal that 98 cyclists lost their lives on Britain’s roads last year, roughly in line with the levels seen over the past decade and one less than in the previous year.
The data, included in the publication Reported road casualties in Great Britain: provisional results 2019, also reveal that 4,072 people were seriously injured while riding a bike, down 3 per cent on 2018. Total cyclist casualties were 16,873, a year-on-year fall of 4 per cent.
Taking the decade as a whole, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured rose by 11 per cent between 2009 and 2019, which the DfT says is “partly explained by an increase in pedal cyclist traffic in Great Britain of 17 per cent” across the period.
That figure is continuing to rise, with the total distance cycled rose by 2 per cent between 2017 and 2018 to reach around 3 billion; figures for 2019 are not yet available and will be released in September.
We would expect the total distance ridden to rise for the current year with big increases in cycling reported across the country during lockdown, plus government efforts to get more people cycling.
One knock-on effect of that, however, is that we have seen a rise in the number of cyclist fatalities reported in the press over the past four months, with more than 70 so far recorded across Great Britain.
It’s only now that we are entering what historically has been the peak period of the year for cyclist casualties, and with five months of 2020 remaining it does sadly appear that the final death toll this year may be the highest we have seen for some time.
Among all road users, total deaths stood at 1,754, which is roughly in line with the number recorded over the past decade; after a sharp reduction in fatalities from 2006-10, the number has remained static since then which is widely attributed to the former Coalition government’s decision to scrap road casualty targets, a policy continued by the succeeding Conservative administrations.
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.