During 2014, 90% of journeys in the UK occurred on roads. The most popular type of travel by vehicle was through cars and vans – a total of 600 billion kilometres was covered that year.
Bicycles on roads only accounted for 1% in 2014 within the UK. Since 1952, this has been a 13% decrease in cycling, when the official figure was 14%. Fewer cyclists are being seen on our roads and this could cause safety to be overlooked when the distance travelled by car or van has increased by over 1,000%.
An Important Cycling Survey
According to research carried out by the British Social Attitudes Survey, it was suggested that people over the age of 18 cycled every day, or almost every day, accounting for 3% of the people surveyed in 2015 which equalled 1.5million.
From those surveyed, 34 million suggested that they never cycled. Across the UK then, the dwindling numbers of cyclists on our roads is a direct result of the lack of cyclists across the UK generally – not because they do not like to cycle on the road. However, by analysing individual countries within the UK, the idea that Britain is uninclined to use a bicycle as a form of transport of our roads becomes clearer.
The Active People Survey carried out a survey which asked over 16s during 2014 and 2015 about their cycling habits, and showed that only 3% of them cycled five times a week. The survey that was carried out also found that 15% cycled at least once per month, which equates to 6.6 million people.
As the results show, it suggests that cyclists perhaps prefer cycling as a fitness activity rather than a way to commute to and from the workplace which, as we go on to discuss, does form a correlation with the nature of cycling accidents throughout the UK.
In Wales, people over 16 were surveyed and only 6% of them suggested that they cycled 1-2 times a day during the years of 2014-2015, which is quite close to the 3% figure of cyclists in England who cycled five times each week.
People that regularly cycled in Scotland during 2014 still fall below the 10% threshold of the people surveyed, just like England and Wales. Regarding transport, 3% of people aged over 16 used a bicycle 1 – 2 days per week. 2% used one 3 -5 days per week, and only 1% used a bicycle nearly every day of the week.
Overall Britain does not want to use cycling as a form of transport on the roads. But can this be down to the hazards the average cyclist could face on our roads daily? True Solicitors, specialists in bicycle accident claims evaluates how safe our roads really are when it comes to cycling, and whether this relates to the small number of cyclists compared to other forms of transport throughout the UK.
Cycling fatalities and injuries in the UK
In June 2017, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents released their factbook for Road Safety. It stated that in 2015, under 19,000 cyclists were injured in a reported accident. Over 3,000 were killed or seriously injured.
Cyclists within urbanised areas
The Cycling Policy Paper of 2015 suggests that 75% of accidents occurred in urban areas and that 50% of fatalities happened in urban areas. Two thirds of these cyclists were involved in a crash near a road junction, with T-junctions and roundabouts being particularly dangerous for cyclists.
Data suggests that the largest numbers of serious deaths and serious injuries occurred in urbanised areas. This might be the reason why most cyclists do not want to use their bike regularly. Perhaps then, there is a correlation between these accidents and a cyclist’s unwillingness to get to work via their bike on British roads that are in and around city centres, or other areas that include an infrastructure built up of roads that accommodate heavy traffic from other types of vehicles such as cars.
Rush hour has been noted as the most dangerous hour for cyclists to ride during the working week. However, the research also notes that the severity of the accident is heightened by the speed limit and how fast the cyclist is travelling – with more serious and fatal injuries occurring on roads with a higher speed limit.
Urban areas and other road users have a direct impact on the safety of cyclists, perhaps a part of the discussion that has been overlooked is how safety conscious cyclists are when they are out on the roads.
Cyclist accidents that didn’t involve another vehicle accounted for 16% whereas those that did involve another vehicle said that the ‘driver failed to look properly.’ Furthermore, 20% of serious collisions arose because cyclists ‘entered the road from the pavement’ – whilst 20% of collision fatalities occurred because a HGV was turning left at a junction or they were ‘passing too close’ to the rider, especially in London. What this reveals, is that when both cyclists and other drivers do not focus properly on the road ahead, unfortunate accidents do and can occur.
Urban cycling and its future
Safety comes first and there are many reasons to justify the number of cyclists riding every day. Their safety around urban places does appear to be a significant consideration. Roads could accommodate for more dedicated cycle lanes which could help prevent accidents at junctions occurring. If the safety and future of cycling on a regular basis is to be guaranteed then, roads need to be accessible and usable for everyone, not just the most popular forms of road transport such as cars, vans and taxis.