Monday, 12 September 2011

Cycle safety opinion: cycling safely is probably better for you

As regular readers of my blog will know, I have been rather fascinated by cycle safety stats over recent weeks. This is because I'm worried by the apparent contradiction of our efforts to get more people to cycle to work and school, when the stats say it's 17 times more dangerous on average to cycle a mile on A-roads in British Cities than it is to drive in a car.

I fear I'm sounding like I'm saying it's too dangerous to cycle. But I'm a cyclist, a Dad and a supporter of sustainable transport, so I want to see safer cycling in our cities, and to my mind that means segregating cars from cyclists and pedestrians. That's my point.

The issue is complex - do we compare causalities per journey, per hour or per mile? So far as I can see it's got to be per mile - if it's a mile to cycle cycle to school, that is what I'm interested in. Do we include risky teen cyclists in the stats, they make up 24% of casualties (see link below)? Well, for now I can't try to provide this analysis. I can only look at the averages - and the newspaper - and give my opinion.

My opinion is that stats make cycling, per mile, on average, look dangerous. But a carefully planned cycle route to work or school can be very safe - choose cycle routes separate from motor routes, eg across parks, along segregated cycle routes. If I am faced with the choice of joining a dangerous busy road, or a short stretch along a pavement - I would say "take the safe choice" and walk along the pavement.

Safe cycling gives plenty of health benefits. The link I give below talks about many of these other benefits, but in summary - if you choose to cycle, cycle safely, and your life path may probably be healthier than if you always choose motorised transport. In my opinion. And get your local authority to build safe, segregated cycle links for cyclists and pedestrians.

Here is link to a great (USA) site with an overview of the subject.
http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html

Here's a link to a great website which discusses the issues of cycling to school in the UK - and a post on why we're failing compared to Holland.
http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/09/wake-up-britain-theres-work-to-be-done.html

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