75% of fatal or serious accidents involving cyclists, in 2018, occurred in urban areas
80% of incidents occur during daylight
75% of incidents occur at road junctions
In 2018 – 99 cyclists were killed, 5 of them children
Also in 2018 – 4, 106 were seriously injured
These statistics* are only those reported to the police. A great number of cycling accidents, which are not fatal, but often serious enough to require hospital treatment do not feature in these figures.
The figures for 2020 deaths are already higher and we are not half way through the year as yet. Let that sink in a minute.
Each one of these people was somebody’s son or daughter, some were parents themselves, they were friends, colleagues, maybe the person you sat next to in the cinema, or the person who served you your morning latte. Importantly, above all else, they were people just like you and me. They were irreplaceable lives lost on our roads.
In a few cases the cyclist may have been to blame. In those cases, the cyclist probably made a completely unintentional mistake. But the argument that someone deserves to die because they made a mistake is a very inhumane one. Nobody deserves to die or be seriously injured when it could have been avoided if the other road users looked out for one another.
Everyday, on the way anywhere, you will see people make mistakes. You might even make one yourself, you might make more than one. But actions have consequences, and sitting in a tin box at 20mph your mistake is probably going to be a bit inconvenient and perhaps dent your bank balance or your insurance premium a little bit. That same little inconveniences applied to a human being without their little metal box could be fatal.
Have we gone so far now as a society that we cannot look out for one another?
I don’t believe that, and I don’t believe that because we (largely) obeyed the Coronavirus lockdown so we could protect the most vulnerable in our society and each other.
It could be argued that everyone should therefore drive to work in a metal box. But that would only make everyone’s journey longer and more torturous. If people get out of their cars, then there is more room for those who remain in them. This is simply the logic of space and what you put in it.
So, what can we do about this?
- The drivers of the metal boxes need to look out for themselves and other road users, especially those who are more vulnerable, in the same way we looked out for one another during the crisis.
- Wherever possible, because sadly drivers won’t do this, cyclists and pedestrians should be provided with safe routes and infrastructure away from the metal boxes. This is ONLY required where drivers cannot do 1. above of course, and because of that it is the drivers who should pay for it.
- All road users should be educated about their rights and responsibilities from a young age. We could bring back the cycling proficiency classes to school education, and we could make drivers ride bicycles in the city as part of their training for their motor vehicle licence.
- We could make the penalties for motoring offences a proper deterrent, because they aren’t at the moment. This doesn’t require a change of law, but an enforcement at all levels from the police to the courts. Nobody should be able to walk out of a court, having had more than 12 points on their licence, and still be retaining that licence for a ‘hardship’ defence. I’m sorry, but you knew the rules and you CHOSE to ignore them.
- There should a two strikes and you’re out policy for serious offences. One mistake and you get banned, fined, etc. Do it twice and you go to prison.
- Recently qualified drivers should be limited to 1litre engine cars for 2 years after passing their test. Motorcyclists are limited, car drivers (who can do a lot more damage) should be.
None of these ideas are new. In fact, I grew up with most of these ideas in place, but it seems that this age of ‘entitlement’ has stretched the fabric of logic and reason beyond what is safe and realistic for society. The result of this is that more than ever people are losing their lives who should not be put in a position where there is even a chance of that happening.
After all, if you can spend two hours queuing for ‘fast food’ you can spend an extra 10seconds of your life waiting for a cyclist to clear the junction/roundabout/traffic island.