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DfT admits "ever increasing problem with pedal cyclist casualties" as serious injuries rise 8 per cent

Road casualty statistics for 2014 highlight alarming trend - but may partly be explained by more people riding

Statistics released by the Department for Transport (DfT) on Thursday show an 8.2% rise in serious cyclist injuries from 2013 to 2014, continuing a worrying trend of injury risk to cyclists that has increased every year since 2004.

The data, compiled from police reports, shows a 4 per cent increase in road deaths among all users from 2013 to 2014, with 5.3 per cent more serious injuries.

Vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – bore the brunt of the increase, and "all account for disproportionately more casualties than would be expected, given the distance travelled," according to the DfT report.

British Cycling, meanwhile, says cycling remains a comparatively safe form of transport, and that today's Cycling and Walking Investment announcement will improve safety for those on two wheels.

The number of cyclist killed rose from 109 to 113, and the DfT report says: "There was an 8.2 per cent rise in the number of seriously injured pedal cyclists to 3,401 in 2014.

“With the exception of 2012 to 2013, the number of seriously injured pedal cyclists has increased every year since the low of 2,174 in 2004.

“This long term rise indicates that there is an ever increasing problem with pedal cyclist casualties."

It attributes part of the increase to growth in cycling of 3.8 per cent to 3.25 billion vehicle miles in 2014.

This rise of 27 per cent in cycling since 2007, it says, is "not far short" of the 31% rise in cycle casualties in that time.

It says greater exposure to traffic has resulted in more road traffic incidents involving bike riders.

There were 1,775 reported road deaths in 2014, an increase of 4% on 2013 figures, with 5.3 per cent more serious injuries than 2013.

Last year's overall casualty figures reverses a long term downward trend, and the DfT points out there were 45 per cent fewer fatalities than in 2005 and 37 per cent fewer than the 2005-09 average, and the 194,477 casualties of all severities in 2014 is the second lowest since records began.

But the report says: "One of the more noticeable discrepancies is for pedal cycles. Although pedal cycles have a similar fatality rate as pedestrians, at around 35 to 38 deaths per billion miles travelled, there is a marked difference between the two groups for overall reported casualties."

Per billion passenger miles there were 38 pedestrian deaths and 35 cyclist deaths, but while there were 2,110 pedestrian casualties there were 6,588 cyclist casualties.

British Cycling's Campaigns Manager, Martin Key, said: "Cyclists being injured on UK roads is an ongoing concern, and any fatality in these circumstances is deeply tragic. However, cycling remains a comparatively safe form of transport.

"I believe we are making progress, and it was encouraging to hear cycling minister Robert Goodwill announce today that the Department for Transport has started work on its long-awaited Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.

“This is a welcome step forward, but today's figures show that the sooner this plan is put in place, and significant investment is made in cycle-proofing our roads and junctions, the better.

“Our vision is to bring cycling provision in Britain closer to the standards set up some of our European neighbours – when that happens, injuries and fatalities will become much rarer."

Pedestrians made up three quarters of the increase in deaths last year, the highest number since 2011.

Car occupant casualties also increased by 5.2 per cent to 115,530 while deaths remained the same. Car and taxi traffic increased 1.9 per cent from 2013 to 2014, which partly explains the increase.

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