VIDEO | Are the roads more dangerous than they used to be?
Data reveals an interesting insight into how safe it is to cycle on UK roads
After the recent high-profile deaths of former Giro d’Italia champion Michele Scarponi and former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden, along with Chris Froome being knocked off his bike by a motorist, the obvious conclusion is that the roads are becoming more dangerous for cyclists.
The above incidents all happened abroad and according to Chris Boardman, policy adviser with British Cycling, the figures in the UK are “statistically pretty flat.
“There has been a slight rise in casualties and killed and seriously injured riders. The most important point is that people don’t feel it is as safe as it was,” he said.
According to government figures the number of cyclists being killed or seriously injured in Britain has not changed much since 2010, though the 3,430 incidents recorded during the first eight months of 2016 was 35 per cent up on the annual average between 2005-2009.
Over a similar period the number of people cycling hasn’t risen much, but the total distance cycled has increased around 23 per cent between 2006 and 2016.
These statistics would seem to indicate that, broadly speaking, cycling is as safe as it was a decade ago.
Roger Geffen, policy director at Cycling UK, says the figures aren’t conclusive as there has been a lot of fluctuation in the last decade, but that before this there was a consistent improvement that we’re no longer seeing.
This gives him cause for concern.
“Generally road safety has not been improving for all road users since around 2008-9,” he said.
Both Boardman and Geffen pointed to a decline in road policing — it has almost halved between 2004-05 and 2015-16 — as a factor that may result in cyclists feeling less safe.
“There is more traffic on the roads than ever before so you will inevitably get more friction,” Boardman said. “You can certainly see it in London.
It’s quite something to watch when you don’t live in a major city. That lack of road policing is only going to go one way… cyclists run through red lights because they can.”