Cyclists at Risk as More Take to the Road

Author:
Simon Stanfield
Partner, Head of Road Traffic Accidents
Date:
29/10/2020

Many more of us are using bikes to get from A to B, a trend that’s undoubtedly been fuelled in recent months by the coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, UK Government figures show that 38% of people cycled more between May and July 2020 than they did before the pandemic started. And interestingly, nearly all thought they’d continue doing so once coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

But what does the growing number of cyclists on the road mean for road safety around England and Wales?

The issue has been back in the news this week after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was involved in a road collision with a cyclist in north London. Sir Keir was driving in the Kentish Town area on Sunday afternoon when the accident happened, and he stayed at the scene until an ambulance arrived to help the cyclist, who thankfully only suffered a minor injury to his arm.

While it was fortunate that the cyclist involved wasn’t seriously hurt, as Road Traffic Accident Solicitors, we’re hugely conscious of the fact that many aren’t so lucky. Cyclists don’t have the same level of protection as car drivers when they’re out and about, so they’re much more vulnerable to serious injury.

In London, for example, there were 4,364 injuries to cyclists in 2019, according to Transport for London figures. This is more than a third up on the long-term average for 2005-09.

Thankfully, the number of cycling accident fatalities has come down, falling from 12 to 5 in 2019, but the number of cycling accidents is still heading in the wrong direction. This is no coincidence as more people travel by bicycle, and shows that cycling safety must be at the centre of any plan to make the UK’s road safer for all.

While more people are taking up cycling, at the same time there’s been a surge in private car use across the country since the national lockdown was replaced with regional measures. And as people’s shopping habits change, we’re seeing more and more delivery vans and trucks moving around our towns and cities, creating a further potential risk for cyclists.

During the summer, the Government confirmed it’s to step up spending in cycling infrastructure, such as wider pavements and tracks, as easing pressure on public transport is vital for as long as social distancing measures stay in place.

But these latest figures have prompted some to call on ministers to act more quickly, or risk squandering what road safety charity Brake describes as “a unique opportunity to change the way we move for good”.

“The fact that nearly all who said they increased their walking and cycling planned to continue doing so after lockdown restrictions were lifted is significant and must make the UK Government press on with reforms urgently,” said Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake.

With a huge increase in cycling, I am seeing more and more very serious injuries and fatal accidents involving cyclists, with devastating impacts for families. They are amongst the most vulnerable road users on our roads - please concentrate and take care when driving.

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