Bicyclists seek equal road rights: National Bike Week gets a boost as figures show fewer riders being injured on London's roads

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Indy Lifestyle Online
London is becoming a safer city for cyclists, according to figures released at the start of National Bike Week by the London Research Centre. The number of cyclists injured has declined every year since 1989, when 5,163 people were hurt; last year that had fallen to 4,188.

The number of pedal cyclists whose injuries were classified as serious fell from 631 in 1991 to 493 last year;

17 riders died in 1991, and 18 in both 1992 and 1993.

The decline in major accidents is in line with a general decline in serious road crashes. But a greater use of crash helmets, fewer vehicles on the roads because of the recession, and a greater awareness of bikes on the part of drivers could have played a part.

However, cyclists still represent about 9 per cent of people injured in traffic accidents in Greater London.

Pippa Curtis, of the London Cycling Campaign, which is organising National Bike Week - running until next Saturday - said there are many areas where safety for the capital's 350,000 cyclists can be improved.

'There is a lot of suppressed demand because some people feel the roads are very dangerous for cyclists and won't go out. We need more facilities for bikes, for instance on the whole you can't cycle through royal parks, yet there are cars driving through them. Employers need to think about providing storage space for cyclists, and public tranport should become more bike-friendly.

Ms Curtis added that while cycling used to be considered

a mode of transport for the poor, it now cuts across all professions and is regarded as a hip and healthy way of travelling. Yet, she argues, society's attitudes must alter still more so bike riders are treated as motorists' equals.

'Twenty years ago it was socially acceptable for people to drink and drive; now it isn't. The same shift of attitude is needed to stop people driving aggressively, at speed, and in a way that endangers cyclists.

London Cycling Campaign wants an integrated network

of 1,000 miles of cycle track across the capital, which would cost an estimated pounds 40m to set up.

The pressure group hopes to see some progress after London's boroughs put in a combined bid for project funding next month.

The first major rally takes place at Herne Hill cycle stadium, in south London, tomorrow while more events will be taking place on Sunday at Haggerston Park, E2, and Richmond Park, Richmond-upon-Thames.

The week ends on 18 June with an overnight ride from London Fields to the Essex coast to watch the sunrise.

FACT PACK:

About 300,000 Londoners travel by bike every day

In Delft in the Netherlands and Munster in Germany between 40 and 50 per cent of journeys are made by cycle - the London figure is 2 per cent

Independent London writers travelling the 15 miles between Crystal Palace and Kenwood House during the morning rush hour took 2 hours 24 minutes by public transport, an hour by car and 49 minutes by bicycle.

About 4 million motorists use cycles for short journeys

Three quarters of all journeys are under five miles; the average cyclist completes a five mile trip in about 30 minutes.

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