Road safety and the Olympics

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2 August 2012


Last night’s incident in which a cyclist was killed near the Olympic Park is a tragedy. Our sympathies are with his family and friends.

It would be inappropriate to comment further on this particular incident until the full facts are known but at British Cycling we believe that a lot more could be done to make the roads safer for cyclists.

Along with other cycling organisations we have been actively involved in the Times’ Cities Fit for Cycling campaign and have been calling on the government to show its commitment to a variety of measures including better dedicated provision for cyclists on roads and junctions, improvements to HGV safety measures and a commitment that all future road and major transport schemes should be subjected to a Cycling Safety Assessment prior to approval.

Experience from abroad has shown conclusively that what is needed is a commitment from the government to ensure that cycling is brought into the heart of transport policy and proper provision for cyclists is designed into roads and junctions.

However, let’s not forget that cycling is not an intrinsically dangerous activity. Cyclist deaths have more than halved since 1990 and, statistically, there is only one death per 32 million kilometres cycled.

There is an established ‘safety in numbers’ effect as cycling becomes a more popular form of transport. Evidence from countries that have significantly increased cycling participation rates has shown that, as more people cycle, it becomes safer.

Like Bradley Wiggins, we want to encourage a culture of mutual respect among all road users. Cyclists are also drivers and vice versa and it is important that we look after each other whether we are travelling on foot, by two wheels or four, pedal-powered or motorised.

Helmets can help save lives in many incidents and we recommend they are worn but there is evidence which says making helmets compulsory would drive down cycling numbers. What would contribute much, much more to making cycling safer is better road infrastructure.