Cycling is good for you and good for the planet but is it as dangerous as it seems?
The more people who cycle, the safer it becomes for each cyclist. According to the Jacobsen Growth Rule, if the amount of cycling doubles, the risk per cyclist falls by 34 percent. If cycling halves, the risk per cyclist increases by 52 percent.
In between the years 2000 and 2010, the number of regular UK cyclists rose by 200% from approx. 2 million to 6 million, during the same period UK cycling accidents fell by 17% from 20,612 to 17,105
Regular cyclists have a similar annual risk of road death to regular motorists. In the UK, there is roughly one death per 20 000 years regular driving or cycling. In the rest of Europe, the annual death risk is lower for cyclists.
How can you make your cycle journey even safer?
Almost two thirds of cyclists killed or seriously injured were involved in collisions at, or near, a road junction, with T junctions being the most commonly involved. Roundabouts are particularly dangerous junctions for cyclists.
Do all you can to make sure you are highly visible to other road users but never assume that they can see you. Set your right pedal to a 2 o’clock position and pedal away from junctions as quickly as possible, do not “scoot” to start.
About 16% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents reported to the police do not involve a collision with another vehicle, but are caused by the rider losing control of their bicycle.
Build up your cycling stamina and practise bike control on quiet stretches of road before you tackle the traffic. Get your bike safety checked regularly and never carry awkward or poorly secured loads.
In collisions involving a bicycle and another vehicle, the most common key contributory factor recorded by the police is 'failed to look properly' by either the driver or rider, especially at junctions. 'Failed to look properly' was attributed to the car driver in 57% of serious collisions and to the cyclist in 43% of serious collisions at junctions.
Always try to make eye contact with other road users when you pass or stop at a junction. Knowing you’ve seen them and they’ve seen you is the closest you’ll get to a guarantee of safety.
The second most common contributory factor attributed to cyclists was 'cyclist entering the road from the pavement' (including when a cyclist crosses the road at a pedestrian crossing), which was recorded in about 20% serious collisions (and over one third of serious collisions involving child cyclists).
Do not ride on the pavement and always mount your bike in line with traffic flow. Do not take chances, push your bike across pedestrian crossings.
Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) present a particular danger for cyclists, especially in London where around 20% of cyclist fatalities occur involve an HGV. These often occur when an HGV is turning left at a junction'. About one quarter of accidents resulting in serious injury to a cyclist involved an HGV, bus or coach 'passing too close' to the rider.
Avoid cycling on the blind side of large vehicles, even if there is a cycle lane. If the vehicle stops wait about 3m behind and in line with the right hand side of the vehicle, making yourself just visible to the drivers rear view mirror. Once the vehicle has moved off hold your road position just in case it stops again, then move in gradually to the left to let traffic behind you pass.