Police road casualty figures show risks to cyclists

Advice for staying safe and legal on the roads

Police road casualty figures show risks to cyclists follow the highway code and be safe

Figures released by Cambridgeshire police show that 89 cyclists suffered injuries on Peterborough’s streets last year.

Cyclists made up 11% of casualties from accidents in Peterborough, compared with 15% across Cambridgeshire as a whole, and 59% in the city of Cambridge. There were no road deaths amongst cyclists, compared to three the previous year.

Peterborough, with its parkway network of fast dual carriageways, is a city designed very much with the car in mind. 8.7% of Peterborough’s travel to work is done by bicycle, compared to 70.4% by car, van or taxi, and 7.5% by bus or minibus. In Cambridge, 1 in 4 residents cycle to work.

In the whole of the UK, for the 12 months up to September 2016, total cyclist casualties were down 4% compared to the average for 2010 to 2014, but those killed or seriously injured were up 7%.

For all road users, total casualties were down 7%, but fatalities and serious injuries were up 3%.

There may be all kinds of reasons why serious injuries are increasing whilst injuries as a whole are falling. Total motor traffic rose by 1.4% between 2015 and 2016, and where traffic rises one would expect a rise in all types of accidents. The fall in total injuries may suggest that either cars or roads are becoming safer, either reducing the number of accidents, or reducing the likelihood of injury when they happen. The decline in total injuries amongst cyclists may also point to an increase in the use of helmets.

However, the increase in serious or fatal accidents, above the level of general traffic growth, may suggest a trend that when accidents do happen they are generally worse. It may be that accidents are more frequent, perhaps that more congested roads lead to disproportionately more accidents, but that higher levels of safety design in cars and other vehicles help reduce the injuries suffered in lower severity crashes.

Cambridgeshire police have issued some common sense guidance to help people stay safe and legal on the roads.

Messages for motorists:

  • Look out for cyclists, especially when turning - make eye contact if possible so they know you've seen them;
  • Use your indicators - signal your intentions so that cyclists can react;
  • Give cyclists space when over taking them, leaving as much room as you would give a car. If there isn't sufficient room to pass, hold back. Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it's windy or if a car door is opened;
  • Always check for cyclists when you open your car door;
  • Advanced stop lines allow cyclists to get in front and increase their visibility. You must stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red to allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows; and always
  • Follow the Highway Code.

Messages for cyclists:

  • Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb - look and signal to show drivers what you plan to do and make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you;
  • Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen;
  • Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor;
  • Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and accessories in the dark increases your visibility;
  • Follow the Highway Code; and
  • Think! recommends wearing a correctly fitted cycle helmet, which is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations.

This advice will help to keep you safe, as well as those around you. In a collision between a car and a bike, it is very likely the cyclist will come off worst. Drivers who cause cyclists injuries not only potentially face prosecution, an insurance claim and higher insurance premiums in the future, they also have to live with the knowledge they have injured – possibly very seriously – another person. Serious injury not only affects the victim, it can be devastating for their family, leaving them without an income if the victim cannot work, and caring for a disabled relative.

For cyclists, being in an accident victim can be life changing. Whilst you may be able to claim financial compensation from the driver’s insurers, doing so can be difficult and stressful. Being partly to blame for an accident like not wearing a cycle helmet – can reduce the claim.

If you need further help and advice after being an accident and you wish to discuss a personal injury claim please contact our personal injury team on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.