Thursday 7 June 2012

An Inconvenient 'Cycling' Truth

Earlier on today, Strathclyde Police released their 2011/2012 annual statistical report. This lists crimes and incidents over the Strathclyde area over the past year. Being a cyclist I of course went straight to the statistics on road traffic incidents. It's split in various different ways, but two tables jumped out at me.

I've simplified the tables to leave only the percentage changes from the mean (over 5 years) and the percentage change since the previous year

TOTAL KILLED/                               % change from                        % change from
SERIOUSLY INJURED                      5 year Mean                            previous year
Drivers                                                    -48.8                                         -33.9
Passengers                                              -42.6                                         -26.5
Motorcyclists                                          -22.0                                          -8.0
Pedal Cyclists                                           18.3                                          21.3
Pedestrians                                              -17.9                                          2.4

TOTAL SLIGHTLY INJURED           % change from                        % change from

                                                             5 year Mean                            previous year
Drivers                                                      -12.5                                         1.7
Passengers                                                -17.1                                        -4.8
Motorcyclists                                             -6.1                                           26.4
Pedal Cyclists                                             5.7                                          -8.7
Pedestrians                                               -15.5                                          5.7

You'll notice that I've highlighted two rows, the cyclists and pedestrian rows. Looking at the bottom table first (slightly injured), motorcyclists have had a bad year with a big increase in slight injuries. However, compared to the 5 year average there is a drop. Similarly, though to a smaller degree pedestrians have had a bad year, but again 5 year statistics are better. This year cyclists have had a good year with regards to slight injuries, but concerningly that bucks the trend when we look at the 5 year statistics.

In summary, looking at slight injuries, when it comes to driving a car things are getting safer. It's a little less obvious if you aren't in a car.

The shocking statistics though are in the first table. Totals killed and seriously injured (KSI). If you are motorised you are safer this year. If you are walking, you aren't safer this year, but overall getting better. If you are on a bike though, it's getting a whole lot worse!

In the same year where 33.9% less drivers are being seriously injured or killed (this is of course a good thing) 21.3% more cyclists are getting killed or seriously injured.

57 cyclists were seriously injured or killed in Strathclyde last year.

What could explain this? Could it be that there are more cyclists on the road? Compared to the 5 year mean are there 18.3% more cyclists on the road? Perhaps. However, there are suggestions that safety is supposed to come in numbers. It certainly would be interesting to see how these changes compare to cycling rates in Strathclyde over the last year and compared to the last 5. If anyone has those figures let me know.

What is most worrying though is when you look at the actual numbers. In 2011/2012 154 drivers (108 passengers) were KSI. Over  the same time period 57 cyclists were KSI. When you remember that in Strathclyde the modal share of cycling is perhaps 1% and the modal share of driving is about 50%. That brings the figures into focus. Of course modal share isn't the best way to look at the statistics. It would be better to correct the figures with distances driven and cycled or perhaps the time spent on the roads. However, I don't have those figures. (Again if you do....) What is worrying is that these corrections are likely to make the statistics worse. I'd love someone to tell me I am wrong. (The police data is here)

So the despite what many other campaigns tell us, cycling, at least in Strathclyde does not appear to be particularly safe. You are very much more likely to be killed cycling than you are driving. Yes cycling in numbers might help, but when dealing with a situation like this, Strathclyde need much more than the soft measures many other campaigns think will change things for the better.

We need to make cycling safer if we don't want more cyclists killed or seriously injured on our roads. We need to implement the POP manifesto now. We need funding and we need infrastructure that actually makes cycling safer.

We NEED to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this together. A really important piece