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South West drivers urged to be ‘Bike Smart’ as those on two wheels account for more than a third of the deaths and serious injuries on the region’s roads

19 November 2018

More than a third (36 per cent) of all deaths and serious injuries on roads in the South West, in 2017, were bike riders (cyclists and motorcyclists). On average, a cyclist or motorcyclist is killed or seriously injured every hour, on British roads.

Analysis by Brake, the road safety charity, has found that in the South West more than a third (36 per cent, a total of 797) of all deaths and serious injuries on the roads was a bike rider. Bike riders’ safety is being highlighted as part of national Road Safety Week (19–25 November), coordinated annually by Brake with the 2018 theme ‘Bike Smart’. Brake is calling for drivers to be ‘Bike Smart’ by slowing down, taking care to look properly at junctions and doing the ‘Dutch reach’ to avoid car dooring.

Road Safety Week was launched at Brunel Fields Primary School, Arthur Milton Street, Bristol on Monday 19 November. The launch saw Brake, in association with Playing Out, host a street play session where the road outside the school were closed. This allowed pupils, their families and residents to enjoy cycling without fear of traffic and highlighted how street play sessions can create safe, pollution-free spaces within communities so children can play and ride their bikes safely.

Brake’s analysis has highlighted the vulnerability of those on two wheels, who, in comparison with car drivers, are on average 34 times more likely to be killed and 63 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured, per mile travelled, on British roads.

Cyclists and motorcyclists account for nearly four in 10 of all deaths and serious injuries on British roads, a total of 9,740 in 2017, or an average of one bike death or serious injury every hour. Bike deaths also make up more than a quarter of all British road deaths, with a total of 101 cyclist deaths and 349 motorcyclist deaths in 2017.

Two-thirds (301) of bike deaths in 2017, an average of 25 a month, took place on rural roads – the highest number of bike deaths on Britain’s rural roads for more than five years. Concerningly, the fatal crash risk facing bikes on rural roads – which accounts for miles travelled – is also at its highest since 2010.

A survey of more than 1,000 drivers, commissioned by Brake for Road Safety Week, found that the majority of drivers (52 per cent) feel that bike riders are most vulnerable on urban roads. Department for Transport statistics, however, show that rural roads pose three times the risk of a fatal crash for both cyclists and motorcyclists, compared with urban roads.

The analysis has been published at the start of the UK’s biggest road safety event, Road Safety Week (19–25 November), coordinated by Brake. This year, thousands of organisations, schools and community groups are backing its ‘Bike Smart’ campaign, helping to raise awareness about the safety of those on two wheels.

Road Safety Week is calling for drivers to be ‘Bike Smart’ and be more aware of bikes by: slowing down, giving more time to spot danger and react; looking properly for bikes before pulling out at junctions; leaving at least 150cm between cars and a bike when overtaking; and by doing the ‘Dutch reach’, using the opposite hand to open a car door to help avoid ‘car dooring’ incidents.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said:

“Every hour, a cyclist or motorcyclist is killed or seriously injured on a British road – each a tragedy that will devastate innumerable lives. Raising awareness across the South West about the safety of those on two wheels, who face much higher risk of death and serious injury than those in cars, is absolutely vital. We support the Government’s announcement of a review of the Highway Code to help keep cyclists safe and its stated focus on motorcyclists in the forthcoming road safety action plan.

“Rural roads, with their high speeds, blind bends and few cycle routes, pose particular danger to those on two wheels, with the risk of a fatal rural road bike crash now at its highest since 2010. The Government’s announced focus on rural road user safety is welcome and we encourage the consideration of rural road speed and bike-safe infrastructure, such as segregated cycle lanes, in its plans.

“Road Safety Week is a vital loudspeaker for individuals, communities and organisations to shout about road safety and raise awareness of the risks on our roads. We hope that with our launch event in Bristol we can demonstrate the benefits that cycling can have for our whole society. With one bike rider being killed or seriously injured every hour in Britain, there is no better time for us all to be more ‘Bike Smart’.”

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC lead for Roads Policing, said:

“Road Safety Week is always an important event in the police calendar and Brake’s timely ‘Bike Smart’ theme makes this year no exception.

“Raising awareness of the safety of those on two wheels is absolutely crucial and we will be ensuring that forces engage with partners throughout the week to both raise awareness of the dangers and enforce the law.”

Andy Barratt, chairman and managing director, Ford of Britain, Road Safety Week 2018 sponsor, said:

“Brake’s analysis provides an alarming insight into the vulnerability of those on two wheels. This Road Safety Week, we should take the time to consider how we as individuals behave on the roads and how that might affect others.”

Brake volunteer: Elaine Corner (Amesbury, Wilts)

In March 2011, Elaine was riding her motorbike near Amesbury in Wiltshire when she was hit by a van, knocking her 30 yards down the road. The driver failed to look properly and pulled out of a junction without seeing her. The driver was talking on a hands-free phone at the time.

Elaine said:

“The injuries I suffered in my bike crash changed my life forever. Motorcyclists on our roads are vulnerable and I paid the price for this lack of protection — this situation must change. Drivers need to be more aware of bikes and our roads must help keep riders safe from harm with slower speeds and safe design. We all need to help protect the most vulnerable, that is why I’m fully supporting this year’s Road Safety Week that is encouraging everyone to be ‘Bike Smart’.”
South West drivers urged to be ‘Bike Smart’ as those on two wheels account for more than a third of the deaths and serious injuries on the region’s roads
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