The broadcaster Jeremy Vine has described as “garbage” an article published on Telegraph.co.uk which claimed there had been a “surge” at the number of injuries to on a protected cycle route in west London that he regularly uses to commute to and from central London.
In a series of tweets about the article, which was published under the headline, “Injuries surge at cycle lane hailed by Jeremy Vine for road safety,” the Radio 2 and Channel 5 host highlighted that just three people had been injured on the section of Cycleway 9 on King Street in Hammersmith.
“This is such garbage,” Vine wrote, before listing three specific criticisms of the article.
First, he said, “Three incidents don't allow meaningful analysis.” He pointed out that “No-one was cycling in this area before, because it was so dangerous — that's why fewer cyclists were hurt.” He also said that “If the injuries were from collisions with cars, all the more reason for segregated space.”
The protected infrastructure – described by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham – runs for around a mile along King Street, from its junction with Goldhawk Road at the boundary with Hounslow in the west, to Hammersmith Broadway in the East.
Citing Transport for London (TfL) data, the Telegraph says that from January to August 2022, three people were seriously injured while riding bikes on the segregated cycleway – two in collisions involving motor vehicles at junctions, and one in a crash involving three bikes.
That compares to one cyclist being seriously injured on the same stretch of road during the three years from 2019-21, and the news outlet also highlighted that during that same period, 10 cyclists had been slightly hurt in road traffic collisions, which it said was twice as high as the number in 2019, before the lane was built.
As Vine pointed out, however, besides the impossibility of attempting to analyse trends from such a small number of incidents, there is a “crucial missing fact” in the article – namely, “how many people are using the lane now, compared to the number who used it before? Without this, these ‘stats’ mean nothing.”
To put the numbers cited by the Telegraph into context, analysis of the same TfL data by road.cc shows that across the whole borough of Hammersmith & Fulham there were 535 cycling casualties of all severities from 2019-21.
According to a spokesperson for TfL, twice as many people are now cycling along King Street as there were in 2017, adding that there is “not yet enough data to draw reliable conclusions” and that a review of safety of cyclists along the route was “ongoing.”
As in the neighbouring London Borough of Hounslow, where Cycleway 9 continues west along Chiswick High Road towards Turnham Green, the council in Hammersmith & Fulham has been reviewing junctions along the two-way cycle track
A spokesman for Hammersmith & Fulham, quoted in the Telegraph, said: “The Safer Cycle Pathway provides shorter waiting times and greater space at junctions for cyclists.
“For junctions on King Street without traffic signals, the design aims to slow traffic and maximise visibility,” he added.
Posting a mock-up of a Telegraph front page on Twitter as well as footage of a near miss he suffered on King Street last year, Vine described the newspaper’s coverage as “biased” and added: “It looks like this incident — where I was nearly knocked off my bike by a van — will be chalked up as "another reason they should close the cycle lane." In fact it just shows how necessary it is.
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