Are cyclist deaths really increasing?
The latest figures showing cycling casualties have alarmed campaigners. How worried should they be?
Statistics for cycling deaths and injuries, as with all such figures, should be treated with caution when taken on their own. A year-on-year rise of 19% for a three-month period, as reported yesterday, sounds alarming, but cycle campaigners warn that it could be skewed by a series of factors over such a small period, and is also slightly meaningless when taken without the context of an expected surge in rider numbers for the period, statistics for which are not yet out.
Another key point to note is that deaths and serious injuries among cyclists are still around a third less than the 1994-98 average, despite the ever-increasing hordes of bikes on the road – between 2007 and 2008, rider numbers grew by more than 10%.
Groups like the CTC are hopeful that the latest casualty figures will be just a blip. There is a well-accepted notion for cycling, known as safety in numbers, which decrees that in general, as the number of cyclists on the roads increases, each rider’s chance of being hurt reduces. For example, the average cyclist in Denmark rides over 10 times further than his or her British peer every year but runs only 20% of the risk of being killed.
These are the figures. What do you think?