Philip Pank Transport Correspondent
Published at 12:01AM, September 28 2012
Source: The Times
The rate at which cyclists were killed or seriously injured rose sharply last year, official figures showed yesterday.
Measured as a proportion of distance pedalled the rate rose by 9 per cent in 2011 compared with 2010 and was the third consecutive year in which it increased.
The data undermines government claims that it is becoming safer to cycle as increased numbers of cyclists take to the roads.
The figures also provoked calls for an urgent inquiry into the apparent decline of road safety.
Analysis of official figures released by the Department for Transport also suggest that commuters who cycle to work face an increased danger as the casualty toll during peak hours rose by 10 per cent last year.
Campaigners say that roads and cycle lanes must be rebuilt to protect cyclists, echoing this newspaper’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign which is calling for an overhaul of infrastructure and better training.
Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “Both central and local government need to do far more to make our infrastructure more suited to cycling with dedicated cycle lanes where appropriate, better-signed advance stop lines and campaigns aimed at getting car drivers to look out for cyclists.”
Edmund King, President of the AA, called for a thorough investigation of the causes behind the rising rate of deaths and serious injuries so that effective counter-measures can be put in place.
He suggested that a dramatic decline in the number of traffic police could be partly to blame. “Perhaps with a new Transport Secretary and a new Road Safety Minister [looking into the increase in casualties] can be looked at as a priority,” Mr King said.
Stephen Hammond, the Road Safety Minister, said: “Cycling safety is a top priority and any death or injury on our roads is one too many. We will continue to work with our partners, including The Times, to do everything possible to improve cycling safety.”
Annual road casualty statistics showed that overall cyclist casualties reported to the police rose by 12 per cent between 2010 and 2011.
The number of fatalities fell by 4 per cent to 104 but the number of cyclists who were seriously injured rose by 16 per cent to 3,085 last year.
The number of serious injuries has risen every year since 2004. Officials have consistently argued that this is because more people are cycling but the number of cyclists increased by only 2 per cent in 2011.
The number of pedestrians killed and seriously injured rose by 5 per cent. The total number of people killed on the roads rose for the first time in eight years, increasing by 3 per cent to 1,901.