How government statistics work against cycling
Cycling is getting safer, claim the CTC, the national cyclists organisation, when they launched their report, Safety in Numbers, at the House of Commons last week. No it isn't, according to one national paper.
According to the CTC, there's been a 34 per cent fall in the number of deaths and seriously injured since the mid 1990s.
But the national daily put it out that cycling deaths are up 11 per cent in four years - quoting figures released by the National Audit Office (NAO).
Sod’s law saw to it that it was the NAO story the newspaper in question went with last week, not the CTC’s.
Who is right?
The headline was a lie! There has not been an 11 per cent increase in deaths! The 11 per cent refers to an increase in the numbers seriously injured!
Such mistakes will continue to be made for as long as the government insist on lumping killed and seriously injured together, as KSIs.
So if you say that in 2007 there were 16,136 cyclists killed and injured the subliminal message is that they all died! But if you read on, the split will more than likely be broken down, as follows: 136 killed, 16,000 injured!
The 11 per cent increase applied to the combined total of cyclists killed AND seriously injured since 2004, according to the NAO. But the fact is cycle deaths haven’t changed much in four years.
The bottom line, though, is that once again cycling is made out to be dangerous. And so the CTC once again find themselves in damage limitation mode.
Chris Peck, for the CTC, said: “We think the decision by the NAO to look at serious injuries since 2004 is entirely unhelpful. Using the proper measures for cycle use and injuries shows that since 1994-98 – the baseline the Government measure injuries against - cycling has increased by 7% (2005-2007) but deaths have fallen by 23%, whilst deaths and serious injuries have fallen by 34%.
A spokesman for the NGO said their report does in fact reflect the overall fall in casualty figures since the mid 1990s, but records the fact that since 2004 casualty figures have started to rise.
They say this supports their call for the government to address safety for cyclists.
The CTC’s report Safety in Numbers reports on several cities where cycling has increased dramatically and cycle casualties have fallen – Leicester has seen a 43% increase in cycling since 2001/3 and a 11% reduction in casualties.
Safety in Numbers
The CTC’s report “Safety in Numbers” says that the more people cycling the safer cycling becomes.
The problem, say the CTC, is that many organizations fear an increase in the numbers of people cycling will lead to more casualties, irrespective of the health benefits, which far outweigh risks.
The evidence that more is safer can be seen not just in pro cycling countries of Europe, but also in those UK cities experiencing cycling growth, such as London and Leicester.
London has seen a 91 per cent increase in cycling since 2000, and a 33 per cent drop in cycle casualties since 1994-98.
Leicester has seen a 43% increase in cycling since 2001/3 and an 11% reduction in casualties.
In the Netherlands, a 45 per cent increase in cycling from 1980 – 2005 corresponds with a 58 per cent decrease in cyclist fatalities.
The CTC say the reasons why cycling becomes safer the more people cycle are: 1. Drivers become more aware and better able to anticipate cyclists’ behaviour; 2, more people are likely to both drivers and cyclists and therefore be in the know; 3, the more people cycle the greater the political will to improve road conditions.
In fact, say the CTC, not cycling is more risky than cycling! On average, cyclists live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15 per cent few days off work through illness.
However, road conditions are still too hostile and put many people off from cycling
How to reduce danger and fear
The CTC say:
1, improve driver training, with more emphasis on cyclists’ needs. Traffic law and enforcement must make it clear that bad driving is as unacceptable as drink-driving.
2, make 20mph the default urban speed limit on most roads and streets and reduce rural speed limits. And tackle the lorry danger, which account for one in five cyclist deaths.
3, fund schemes that promote cycling positively and improve confidence. When marketing cycling, cycling ought to be associated with health and fun, not danger.
Petition against the 'mobile menace'
Sign the Number 10 e-petition calling for action against drivers who continue to flout the law by using mobile phones while driving.
The petition has been organised by Allan Ramsay of RoadPeace and former British road race champion Brian Tadman.
To support the fight for tougher penalties for the ‘mobile menace’, like confiscate phone and car, and an automatic driving ban, log on to:-