Cycling Safety in the UK [Infographic]

We’ve always advocated electric bikes as a safer alternative to pedal cycles; they’re faster, which means getting away from the melee at the traffic lights and out on to the open road (or Cycle Superhighway) as it may be. The extra power from assisted acceleration can get you out of tight spots in a matter of seconds, and for weaker cyclists they mean spending less time in dangerous locations like uphill bends and junctions. In fact, we were so confident that electric bikes make people feel safer on the roads that we took it to the roads and asked you, the public, what you thought. Here’s what we found:

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Our Cycling Safety Survey

Overall the results were highly positive with a clear majority stating that electric cycling is safer than traditional pedal cycling. In fact, 80% of those who took the survey agreed that using an electric bike is at least as safe; 53% said that they thought electric bikes were actually safer; and a further 9% admitted that they would not cycle at all if it weren’t for their electric bike:

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We were also interested to know who, out of the respondents, had been involved in an accident when cycling and what had happened. Of the responses received just over 50% had said that they had avoided being in an accident. 35% of the responses stated that they had been involved in an accident whilst riding their pedal cycle, and 20% reported accidents on their electric bikes. This would seem to suggest electric bikes are safer out on the road, with a lower risk of being involved in an accident. Using an electric bike, on this evidence, made it 43% less likely that our responders would be involved in an accident. We’ll look into why this might be in a future post.

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Those who stated that they had been involved in an accident were then asked what happened. Interestingly, the top two most common reasons for being involved in an accident were reported as “I fell off, it was all my own fault”, and “I fell off because of the riding conditions (ice, rain, etc.) This was closely followed by “somebody hit me with their vehicle” and “other”. With the least amount of responses were “I hit somebody’s vehicle accidentally” and “problem with my bike”:

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 The next question in our survey asked what you think needs to be done in order to improve cycle safety:

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Coming in as the most flagged answer was “better cycle routes and road design”. Boris Johnson was widely criticised after suggesting that the onus was on the cyclists to obey the laws of the road despite the fact that “cyclists breaking the law was identified as a factor in just 6% of cases where a rider was killed or badly hurt.”

Andreas from London Cyclist, a blog dedicated to encourage readers to cycle more often and explore more of London, was kind enough to conduct a little interview with the team here at 50cycles. He said:

“The road system we have today was not designed with cyclists in mind. It puts cyclists, both experienced and inexperienced in dangerous situations. Despite repeated calls by cycling organisations to do more for London cyclists, change has been slow to arrive. Boris Johnson needs to accelerate plans to improve the cycling infrastructure, with a particular focus and priority on dangerous junctions. These have been identified by the London Cycling Campaign and by TfL. We already know what we have to do, now we need to stop procrastinating and get it done.”

We also asked Andrew Sykes, long-distance cyclist, author and blogger at Cycling Europe, his thoughts:

“Clearly there are things which can be done to help minimise the number of accidents involving cyclists. Some require the intervention of government at a local and national level, notably in the design of cycle-friendly towns and cities. This is going to be a long-term strategy and things are gradually beginning to change[…]In London, there is a mayor who is a cyclist himself and who has championed cycling. He may not be perfect but he has certainly helped push cycling up the agenda. Not many politicians can claim to have had their name immortalised in the name of a project that they have delivered – the Boris Bikes. In future years he will be seen as someone who certainly got the ball rolling, or perhaps the cycle wheel turning. I don’t live in London and most people in the UK don’t live in London. I live in Reading in the Thames Valley, a town that has been allocated substantial amounts of money from central government to develop sustainable transport schemes. I have to be honest but my cycling experience hasn’t changed greatly in recent years and I can’t see how many people would have been encouraged into cycling in the town by the measures the council has brought forward. If only we had our own Boris!”

Cycling is a force for good and let’s make sure that everyone, including cyclists themselves, keep that at the front of our minds!

Cycling Safety Tips:

Follow the Highway Code: Don’t just red lights or cycle on the pavement unless it’s a designated cycle path.

Keep out of the gutter: Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb.

Signal clearly at all time: Check over your shoulder, make eye contact with drivers who may be following, signal clearly and then make your move.

Take a cycling course: This will equip you with the skills and confidence to cycle on today’s roads.

Make sure your bike is suitable for you: A bike that is too big or too small, too heavy or too sporty can be incredibly dangerous.

TOP TIP: An electric bike is a good option for those who need a little extra power boost.

In our next post, Six reasons electric cyclists feel safer, we’ll reveal what it is about electric bikes that gives riders more security out on the road.

Sources:

Original data from 50cycles.com

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/255125/road-accidents-and-safety-quarterly-estimates-q2-2013.pdf

http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/advice/cycling/info/cycling_accidents_factsheet.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/interactive/2013/nov/16/interactive-map-britain-cycling-casualties

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/walking-and-cycling-statistics

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/185738/local-area-walking-and-cycling-england-2011-12.pdf

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-and-quick-statistics-for-wards-and-output-areas-in-england-and-wales/rft-qs701ew.xls

http://www.sustrans.org.uk/change-your-travel/get-cycling/road-safety-cyclists

Appendix:

Further research published by the Department for Transport (DfT) reported that 10% of adults in England cycle at least once a week, and 3% of adults cycle at least 5 times a week. In fact:

  • 25% of adults in Cambridge cycle at least 5 times a week
  • 14% of adults in Oxford cycle at least 5 times a week
  • 10% of adults in York cycle at least 5 times a week
  • 9% of adults in Hackney cycle at least 5 times a week
  • 8% of adults in Rutland cycle at least 5 times a week
  • 8% of adults in South Cambridgeshire cycle at least 5 times a week

Accident Data for the UK

In 2012, 19,091 accidents involving cyclists were reported:

  • 118 were fatal
  • 3,222 seriously injured
  • 15,751 were slightly injured

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