Safety in Numbers
The safest places to cycle are those with high cycle use. More and safer cycling can, and should, go hand in hand.
That's the message of CTC's Safety in Numbers campaign which explains that the more people cycle, the safer it is for each individual cyclist, since places with high levels of cycling are associated with lower risks.
Possible reasons for the "Safety in numbers" effect are:
- Drivers are more aware of cyclists
- Drivers are more likely to be cyclists themselves
- There is greater political will to improve cycling conditions, such as building infrastructure, reducing speed or increasing enforcement of traffic law
We want to halve the risk of cycling and double the numbers at the same time.
Unfortunately current road safety techniques merely count the number of casualties, not the risk. With a substantial increase in cycling, the numbers of cyclists being injured is likely to increase, even if the overall risk falls. Only by changing the way we measure safety from absolute numbers to risk will we be in a position where cycling can be encouraged without leading to conflicting local authority objectives.
In response to pressure from CTC, the Government has adopted an indicator for cycle safety based on risk per mile travelled, not simply numbers of deaths or injuries. This is a major step, but it needs to be followed up by local authorities following the Government's lead.
Taking steps to increase cycling - and at the same time improve safety - will benefit our streets, our health, our communities and the environment, as well as improving safety for all road users.
So how do we do this?
By tackling the fears which prevent people from cycling more. That means:
- Making the road environment more cycle-friendly, by reducing traffic volumes and speeds and by providing high-quality cycling infrastructure
- Improving driver behaviour, through training and awareness campaigns, backed by stronger traffic law and enforcement
- Reducing the threats posed by lorries
- Funding schemes that promote cycling positively and improve confidence, e.g. making cycle training widely available for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.