'Worrying' rise in cyclist accidents

Katie Hodge,Pa
Thursday 03 February 2011 15:52
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Deaths and injuries among cyclists are increasing at a "worrying" rate, a charity claimed today as new figures revealed a rise in casualties.

Provisional statistics show that overall road safety improved during the last year, with fatalities falling below 2,000 for the first time since records began.

But there was a 3% increase in the number of cyclists killed or injured as commuters turned to pedal power.

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, acknowledged that the general drop in road deaths was "good news" but added: "The worrying trend is the increase in deaths and serious injuries to cyclists."

The total number killed or seriously injured has risen 10% since the year ending September 2007, he said, adding: "We need to know why this is the case and what we can do to make cycling safer."

Meanwhile, he warned that any road safety improvements may be short-lived amid Government spending cuts.

While the total number of reported bike casualties - including those killed, seriously or slightly injured - rose by 3%, the number involved in the most serious collisions, resulting in death or serious injury, went up by 2%.

AA president Edmund King said fuel prices had changed driving habits, leading to a growth in cycling and bringing increased accidents.

"These trends need to be countered and the country's road safety effort has to prepare for better times when more people will drive," he added.

Today's figures, published by the Department for Transport, showed the total number of reported road casualties was down by 3% while the number of people killed or seriously injured was down by 8%, compared with the 12-month period ending September 2009.

The number of fatalities fell by 21% to 1,900 during the same period.

Meanwhile, pedestrian, motorcycle and car user casualties showed overall reductions of 3%, 8% and 4% respectively.

Taking only the most serious accidents, the number of pedestrian and motorcycle users killed or seriously injured fell by 8%, while the figure for car users fell by 11%.

The overall number of reported child casualties fell by 5%, with those killed or seriously injured also dropping by the same amount, according to the estimates.

Chris Peck, policy officer at CTC, The UK's National Cyclists' Organisation, said: "While the increase in cycle casualties might look worrying, the risk to each individual may still be lower than before when you consider the increase in the number of cyclists.

"It's worth noting that casualties are down 29% against Government targets. But since neither pedestrian nor cyclist casualties are falling as fast as motorist casualties, we need to do more to tackle bad driving and improve conditions for the road users outside cars."

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