Figures released today show that although cycle use has risen slightly, the increase in serious cycle injuries has been greater, meaning that the overall risk of cycling is rising. CTC is calling on the Government to respond to the Get Britain Cycling report with adequate investment.
Which way for cycling policy? Investment is falling and risk is rising

The risks to cycling have increased in Great Britain, following a 5% increase in cycle serious injuries and deaths but a smaller increase in cycle use [2] in 2012.

The figures, published by the Department for Transport [3], show that in 2012 cycle fatalities rose from 107 in 2011 to 118. 

Serious injuries increased to 3,222 from 3,085 a year previously. There are now a third more serious injuries than the 2005-2009 average - the baseline for comparing progress.

However, CTC has always been keen to urge the Government to measure the risks of cycling, rather than just looking at absolute numbers. According to road traffic figures published today, cycle use has increased very slightly, from 4.95 bn kms in 2011 to 5 bn kms in 2012. These figures are estimates, but suggest an increase of just 1.2% in the distance travelled by bike. Other figures, using a different methodology, point to a faster growth in cycle use [4]

Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns Director, said: "Although cycle use has increased, serious injuries and deaths to cyclists are increasing faster. The Government needs to respond to the Get Britain Cycling report, which called for substantial investment in cycling facilities, lower speeds and better traffic law enforcement [5] to improve cycle safety as we encourage more people to cycle."

The risks of cycling remain much higher in Britain than in other European countries, like the Netherlands or Denmark, where cycle use is ten times higher than here. The Government must concentrate efforts on schemes that both improve cycle safety and increase levels of cycling.

Roger Geffen
CTC Campaigns Director

DfT figures also show that overall motor traffic levels have fallen again, for the 4th year out of 5, which has perhaps contributed to the overall fall in road deaths to the lowest level ever, at 1,754.

However, much of that reduction has occurred to occupants of motor vehicles. By contrast, the fall amongst pedestrians and cyclists has been less rapid, suggesting that the gains are more to do with vehicle safety than crash prevention measures.

Deaths amongst cyclists have also increased for children and young adults. This is of greater concern given that this age group has historically shown the biggest falls in cycle use - a trend which is unlikely to have changed in the last year.

For children aged up to 15, deaths have increased from 6 in 2011 to 13 in 2012, though serious and slight injuries have both fallen. 

Olympic effect?

Many people expected a large increase in cycle use associated with the Olympics. Overall, however, the small increase in cycle use across 2012 may mask a substantial increase at the time of the Olympics itself. Data on cycle use is not published on a quarterly basis, but cycle casualties are, and they show a huge spike in cycle injuries during the late summer of 2012.