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Where is Britain's safest and most dangerous city for cycling? This new research (might) have some answers

Bristol, London and Manchester are all in the top-ten most dangerous cities to cycle in the UK according to research by, although crucial factors such as the number of cycling journeys appear to be omitted from the analysis

Cycling can be one of the most rewarding ways to get from A to B, especially in urban areas where there are already too many cars on the road. Chances are if you are reading this then you probably don't need convincing.

Unfortunately however, riding a bicycle through a city can, at other times, also be some of the most stressful, dangerous and downright unpleasant riding you'll ever do. More road users, as well as more junctions and roundabouts all increase the likelihood of collisions.

> New global ranking shows UK cities have a lot of catching up to do on cycling

Just from personal experience, six months of commuting to London by bike led to as many falls as riding in the lanes during the previous decade. Injury compensation website has done some actual research to try to crunch the figures, which should hopefully be a touch more informative than me emotionally judging cities based on how they treated me...

They analysed over 12,000 cycling routes in cities up and down the United Kingdom, factoring in the number of incidents, steepness(?), surface quality and lighting, to come up with a 'danger score' for each. Yes, a bit like Top Trumps...

UK's 'safest cities for cycling'

Surprisingly considering some of the things said about cycling in Essex recently, its third largest city Chelmsford came out on top as the safest city for cyclists, with a low 'average bike accident score' of 0.08, as well as reasonable surface quality and lighting.

Worcester and Nottingham made the podium in second and third respectively. Nottingham had a lower 'accident score' than Worcester, but's research assessed the Worcestershire city as safer due to its superior road surfaces and lighting.

There was Midlands representation elsewhere in the safest top-ten list, with Leicester ranked seventh.

With that said, there is a definite southern feel to the safest cities: Gloucester, Cambridge, St Albans and Norwich came fifth, sixth, ninth and tenth respectively.

Of the more northerly cities to make the top-ten, Lincoln ranked highest in fourth place, while York and Wakefield were eighth and ninth.

UK's safest cities for cyclists (

UK's 'most dangerous cities for cycling'

Birmingham was ranked as the most dangerous city for cyclists in the UK according to, who scored the second city a danger score of 7.38, just under six points higher than Chelmsford, and five points higher than nearby Worcester.

Newcastle upon Tyne, Plymouth, and Sheffield followed closely behind, with 7.21, 7.17 and 7.08 scores respectively.

Perhaps surprisingly, London only came fifth in the top-ten most dangerous list. The English capital had the highest 'accident score' by far — 9.58, but was helped by the relatively simple terrain and well-surfaced roads.

Preston, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Bristol and Brighton completed the top-ten.

UK's most dangerous cities for cyclists (

Where this research appears to fall down is on analysis of the number of cyclists and cycling journeys, with the number of reported 'bike crashes' as put it seemingly one of the main deciding factors in assigning a city its overall danger score. This could be why most of the top 10 'most dangerous' are higher population cities, and many of the 'safest' are considerably smaller. 

While Chelmsford and Worcester both had a low number of reported 'bike crashes', this could in part be because of low cycling numbers. We reported on the dangers of cycling in Essex on the Podcast recently, while a controversial cycling ban in Worcester city centre isn't exactly a great advert for cycling in that area.

We could also find fault with the wording of the 'bike accident score' metric used by, but the people behind the Road Collision Reporting Guidelines can probably explain why that is far better than us. 

What do you think? Can we create a 'score' to represent how safe cities are to cycle in? Any surprises? Where did your city rank?

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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wycombewheeler replied to mad_scot_rider | 2 years ago

mad_scot_rider wrote:

I always love seeing a headline about "britain's best" something or other - just to find a map that stops at Carlisle - well done for not disappointing!

well it's well known that it's too cold to cycle in Scotland, and too wet in Wales


OnYerBike replied to mad_scot_rider | 2 years ago

The "Britain" part appears to be a modification given that the "study" (and I use that word in the loosest possible sense) refers to UK cities. Although given the maps completely fail to include Northern Ireland maybe that was a reasonable assumption on the part of the headline writer.

Scotland and Wales do at least appear to exist on the maps, albeit fading out of existence - the only thing that is missing is "Here be Dragons".

mad_scot_rider replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago

Rarrrrr </dragon>

Dnnnnnn replied to OnYerBike | 2 years ago
1 like

OnYerBike wrote:

the only thing that is missing is "Here be Dragons".

They're only in Wales though.

mdavidford replied to Dnnnnnn | 2 years ago

Duncann wrote:

OnYerBike wrote:

the only thing that is missing is "Here be Dragons".

They're only in Wales though.


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