Fall in serious injury and fatal casualties welcome, but more must be done to create safe space for cycling
The Mayor's Office has released figures which show that fall in the serious and fatal casualty rate for people on bikes in London from 2013 to 2014. The figures also show cycling at a 'record high'.
The rate of serious or fatal casualty per cycling journey fell by 16% across all roads in London. The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) fell by 11.5% to 432, while the number of trips rose by 5%.
London Cycling Campaign is heartened to that the serious casualty rate for cycling has fallen, but believes the figures are still unacceptably high. Better infrastructure is desperately needed to reduce the danger for the increasing number of people who cycle, or who would like to cycle, in London.
The figures also show that more people are cycling in London than at any time since current records began. Transport for London say that cycling on TfL main roads rose by 11 per cent last year. The total number of cycle journeys on all roads in London rose by 5% to around 610,000 a day - almost 223 million a year. This represents an increase of almost 25 per cent since 2008.
LCC says that this growth in cycling in London is welcome, but highlights the urgent need for London's streets to offer safe space for cycling for all. One journey in every 531,000 might end in a serious injury - the lowest rate ever recorded, beating the previous low of 2006 when it was about one journey in every 434,000. The risk of a fatal collision is very small at one journey in 17.2 million, yet that risk needs to be much lower to match the Dutch or Danish rate.
It is welcome that the Mayor's press release focusses on the rate of casualties per trip and not just the actual number. All too often the focus is on the changes in number and not the changes in casualty rates. Despite many calls for changing the system the Mayor and TfL still expresses policy targets in actual numbers rather than aiming for an improvement in the rate of casualties.
Rate analysis is more difficult and the apparently better performance on the 5% of roads managed by TfL needs to be treated with caution as it is calculated in a different way to other roads.
The serious casualty rate had been increasing from 2009 to 2012 and the 2014 data suggests that trend has been reversed. However the rate of slight injuries is still increasing it is up 8.5% on last year, even more than the 5% rise in the year before. This data alone should dispel any sense of complacency arising from the improved headline figures.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "These figures are tremendously encouraging and will, I hope, give even more people the confidence to get on their bikes. Operation Safeway, which we made permanent feature last year, has already helped improve driver and cyclist behaviour. But we need to do more.
"My new Safer Lorry Scheme, coming in less than three months, will ban all lorries not fitted with safety equipment from London. My new segregated cycle superhighways, better junctions and Quietway back-street cycle routes will further protect cyclists.
"The population explosion in London cycling shows why we need all this and why we need to go still further."
Cycling serious or fatal injuries ("KSIs" - the standard measurement) per journey have fallen by just under 80 per cent since 1989, an exceptionally bad year, when 33 cyclists were killed and 752 seriously injured on London's roads. Around 90 million cycling journeys were made in the capital that year. The KSI rate was about one in every 115,000 journeys.
The Mayor's office tell us that the £913 million investment programme announced in the Mayor's 2013 Vision for Cycling is now in delivery, with four segregated superhighways currently being built and a number of major junctions also under reconstruction. Building work is also underway on the Quietway network of back-street cycle routes. The first Quietways, the first sections of segregated superhighway and the first rebuilt junctions will open this year.
Leon Daniels, director of surface transport at TfL, said: "The increase in people cycling on the TfL Road Network, as well as the new insights into why people are cycling in London, is proof that the huge investment we are making in London is helping to encourage more people to take to two wheels. With new cycle routes, better cycle parking and easier access to Santander Cycles all taking place in 2015, we are confident that the next 12 months will see cycling levels rise even higher and help London maintain its place as a world-class cycling city."
The TfL Attitudes to Cycling surveys from 2014, also published today, showed that 72 per cent of those who cycle in London do so at least once a week - up from two-thirds in 2013.
Cyclists also said they felt safe when cycling in traffic, with 91 per cent of regular cyclists and 88 per cent of occasional cyclists feeling safe, up from 89 per cent and 75 per cent respectively in 2013.
The Attitudes to Cycling Report makes interesting reading but it is based on a mixed sample and the year on year variations are difficult to explain.