When you’re riding in traffic, do you ever feel like they’re all out to get you? You might not be too far wrong, as a number of recent studies show just how dangerous it can be to cycle on the roads in the UK. And you know what else? It looks like the motorists are generally the ones at fault.
In November the Department for Transport (DfT) reported a sharp rise in cycling casualties of almost 20% since last year, though it has to be said that this figure is a projection based on one quarter’s worth of data and still represents a 30% fall since the mid 1990′s. Nonetheless, any increase is still a worrying trend.
In early December there was some fuss over the release of a University of Surrey study (PDF) that showed cyclists were three times more likely to be killed on the roads in the UK than in other countries around the world, and 20 times more at risk of injury than motorists. The study also once again suggested that cycling becomes safer as more people take it up, quoting the example of Holland:
Compared to the UK, where just four per cent of the population use bicycles, cycling is much more popular in Holland, with 25 per cent of people getting about by bike, and Denmark, where one in five trips are made by bicycle. But these countries have much lower injury and death rates, suggesting that there is safety in numbers.
Unfortunately, some media outlets chose to spin this study negatively as “cycling is dangerous“, rather than focus on what could be done to make the roads safer for everyone.
Then just a few days ago, a further DfT study reported that in the majority (93%) of serious accidents involving a cyclist, the cyclist was not to blame. This study, entitled “Collisions involving pedal cyclists on Britain’s roads: establishing the causes“, shows that, amongst other things, 25% of accidents resulting in death or serious injury to a cyclist were due to the cycle being struck by a vehicle from behind, and that police attributed blame to the driver in up to 75% of collisions between an adult cyclist and another vehicle.
In response, Chris Peck of the CTC said:
“We believe this report strongly supports our view that the biggest problem for cyclists is bad driving … We believe that the government should now focus on tackling the causes of injury which appears to be mainly inconsiderate and dangerous driving.”
On the wider web, Fight Bad Driving has (almost) daily video updates of drivers behaving aggressively and dangerously towards cyclists, and Facebook very recently threw up (vomited) the “just want punch cyclest in the head when they wont move out your way” group filled with violent anti-cyclist sentiment from motorists. I’ve even had my own personal close encounters.
Be careful out there.