Cyclists on UK Roads: increasingly vulnerable, and a threat to pedestrians

Greater Manchester has emerged as the region that tops a list of the most dangerous places for cyclists in the UK. Cyclists continue to remain at high risk of injury on UK roads, according to recent statistics uncovered by Claims.co.uk, despite continuous campaigns for safer roads.

Most dangerous regions for cyclists

Using Freedom of Information requests, Claims.co.uk has gathered data from 33 UK police forces revealing just how vulnerable cyclists continue to be. The police data also reveals the 10 most dangerous regions for cyclists, topped by Greater Manchester. Those regions are:

According to these statistics, the police were called out to 5,340 incidents involving cyclists hit by cars in 2017 alone. Although a slight drop on the previous year (5,555), it is an increase on 2015 where the figure was 5,268.

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to injury in the event of a road traffic accident. The Department for Transport (DoT) researched cycling injuries over a 7-year period to 2016, and found that 63 cyclists are injured on UK roads every week. On average, two cyclists are killed every week in road accidents

Police Force 2015 2016 2017
Avon and Somerset Constabulary 450 426 387
Bedfordshire Police not held 59 49
Cambridgeshire Constabulary * not held 190 240
Cheshire Constabulary 261 303 295
City of London Police 33 33 14
Cumbria Constabulary 105 104 133
Derbyshire Constabulary 212 161 147
Devon & Cornwall Police 140 110 143
Dorset Police 267 200 211
Durham Constabulary 97 102 106
Gloucestershire Constabulary not held not held not held
Greater Manchester Police 363 332 433
Hampshire Constabulary not held not held not held
Hertfordshire Constabulary not held not held not held
Humberside Police 419 423 431
Kent Police * 260 290 229
Leicestershire Police 236 199 224
Merseyside Police 371 377 366
Metropolitan Police Service not held not held not held
Norfolk Constabulary 190 215 203
North Yorkshire Police not held not held not held
Northamptonshire Police 227 242 129
Northumbria Police not held not held not held
Nottinghamshire Police * 192 197 170
South Yorkshire Police * 195 140 132
Staffordshire Police 177 211 159
Suffolk Constabulary 151 162 196
Thames Valley Police not held not held not held
Warwickshire Police * 23 167 130
West Mercia Police 227 230 232
West Midlands Police 511 509 427
West Yorkshire Police not held not held not held
Wiltshire Police 161 173 154

* = data not for full year
not held = Police force does not hold this data

An increase in pedestrians injured by cyclists

It’s not just cyclists who are at risk of injury from accidents involving pedal bikes: the FOI data from UK Police also saw a rise in the number of pedestrians across the UK who have been injured by cyclists over the last three years.

The statistics reveal that cyclists on Northamptonshire’s roads present the greatest risk to pedestrians: there were 39 recorded incidents in 2017 where pedestrians had been struck by cyclists. Dorset, Leicestershire and Kent followed closely with 13 incidents in each of those regions in 2017.

Police Force 2015 2016 2017
Avon and Somerset Constabulary 4 8 8
Bedfordshire Police not held 2 0
Cambridgeshire Constabulary * not held 8 6
Cheshire Constabulary 2 8 5
City of London Police 4 6 2
Cumbria Constabulary 1 1 4
Derbyshire Constabulary 1 3 0
Devon & Cornwall Police 8 6 4
Dorset Police 10 12 13
Durham Constabulary 2 2 1
Gloucestershire Constabulary not held not held not held
Greater Manchester Police 3 3 1
Hampshire Constabulary not held not held not held
Hertfordshire Constabulary not held not held not held
Humberside Police 2 7 7
Kent Police * 7 15 13
Leicestershire Police 10 12 13
Merseyside Police 2 0 10
Metropolitan Police Service not held not held not held
Norfolk Constabulary 7 8 3
North Yorkshire Police not held not held not held
Northamptonshire Police 0 0 39
Northumbria Police not held not held not held
Nottinghamshire Police * 4 4 4
South Yorkshire Police * 1 2 0
Staffordshire Police 0 1 0
Suffolk Constabulary 3 0 1
Thames Valley Police not held not held not held
Warwickshire Police * 1 5 3
West Mercia Police 4 4 3
West Midlands Police 1 8 10
West Yorkshire Police not held not held not held
Wiltshire Police 1 1 5

* = data not for full year
not held = Police force does not hold this data

What’s next?

Campaigning groups such as national cycling charity Cycling UK continue to highlight the dangers that UK roads present to cyclists, having recently made contributions to the Government’s cycling and walking safety review.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said that for vulnerable road users to be less at risk from motor vehicles (which remain the biggest threat to both pedestrians and cyclists), roads and streets need to be better designed with their safety in mind:

“When considering the safety of people cycling or walking it’s essential that people look at the evidence about the source of the danger. In the last ten years, the casualty statistics from the Department for Transport reveal that 99.4 % of pedestrian fatalities on our roads involved a motor vehicle, with a 10% increase in overall pedestrian fatalities in 2016 as a consequence of the large rise in pedestrian deaths in motor vehicle collisions.

“Similarly, it is motor vehicles that pose the greatest risk to cyclists, with a 5% increase in the number of cyclists seriously injured last year. But despite the evidence that both cyclists and pedestrians are at greatest risk from motor vehicles, the conversation in recent months seems to have focussed on the perceived risk that cyclists present to pedestrians.

“If we want to improve road safety for all of our most vulnerable road users, it would be better to focus on measures to reduce danger from the largest vehicles and design roads and streets which take their needs into account. To help with this, Cycling UK have just responded to the Government’s cycling and walking safety review, with our solutions to achieve safer roads and junctions, safer road users, safer speeds and safer vehicles to make both cycling and walking the natural choice for short journeys.”

There are also calls for changes to the Road Traffic Act after prosecutors had to rely on old legislation to brings charges against a cyclist who struck and killed a pedestrian, Kim Briggs, on Old Street in London in 2016.

The cyclist, Charlie Alliston, was charged with an offence under legislation dating back more than 150 years which was intended for offences involving horse drawn carriages. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

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