GB has highest cyclist death-to-distance rate, EU report claims
Great Britain has the highest recorded number of cyclist deaths per distances travelled in Europe, according to a new report from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
Released on 28 August, the ETSC report Pedalling towards Safety found Britain had an average of 22.4 deaths per billion kilometres ridden, over the last three years.
While few EU nations monitor this correlation, Britain’s figure is far higher than other countries’ fatality levels, with Norway recording an average of 11 cyclist deaths per billion kilometres, Denmark 12.1, the Netherlands 12.4, and Sweden 14.4.
Britain had far lower levels of kilometres cycled per person out of these nations, recording only 79.7km compared to Norway’s 171.1km, Denmark’s 521.3km, the Netherlands’ 863.2km, and Sweden’s 198.7km.
The report suggested this ‘provides some support for the suggestion that cycling becomes safer as more people take it up as a means of transport, an argument known as safety in numbers’.
‘Other elements of the traffic system, such as safety of infrastructure, road users’ education and awareness, and vehicle safety probably also help to account for the remaining differences in the countries’ observed levels of cycling risk,’ it added.
Executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety (PACTS), Robert Gifford, said: ‘I was very worried by this data. There are always questions over the reliability of the data, but this evidence does suggest the safety in numbers theory is true and without doubt the political parties have to get more people cycling, more safely.’
Mr Gifford said ‘smart councils will be looking in great detail at which cyclists are being killed, where and how, and using social marketing to target a [safety] message towards them’.
The ETSC report also found there was a 5.1% average annual reduction in cyclist deaths across the EU from 2001-2010. This produced an overall reduction of 39% across the EU, compared to a 43% reduction in the overall number of road deaths in the same period.
Britain’s average annual reduction in cyclist deaths was just 2.3%, the fifth lowest in the EU and way behind Slovakia, which recorded the highest average annual reduction rate of almost 17%.
However, Britain’s overall fatality levels were relatively low, recording the EU’s joint third lowest cyclist deaths per million of the population between 2008-2010.
To clarify: Britain has the worst fatality rate of the 5 EU countries with cycling data, not the whole EU. But still...! The report also flags up the "Safety in numbers" effect: cycling is safer where cycle use is high. More and safer cycling can, and should, go together: see www.ctc.org.uk/safetyinnumbers. Also, cycling's health benefits far outweigh the risks involved, and the risks imposed on others are low. See CTC briefings on health and road safety: http://beta.ctc.org.uk/campaigns/viewsRoger Geffen, Added: Friday, 31 August 2012 10:16 AM
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