Cycling deaths and injuries up

UK roads less safe in 2010, even in context of rise in cycling

New figures suggest the UK's roads are becoming marginally more dangerous for cyclists

Department for Transport statistics show the number of cyclists killed on the UK’s roads rose last year, from 104 in 2009 to 111 in 2010. Killed and seriously injured (KSI) figures for the same period were also up, from 2,710 to 2,771.


These numbers have to be viewed in the context of a continuing rise in the number of cyclists on the roads – the total number of miles cycled reached three billion in 2010, up one percent on 2009.

However, the critical indicator figure of cyclist deaths per billion miles – the most effective measurement of how safe cycling actually is – rose too, from 33.5 to 35.7, suggesting that perhaps the UK’s roads are becoming marginally less safe for bike users.

‘Failed to look properly’ was the most frequently reported contributory factor to accidents – it was cited in 40 percent of cases reported to the police in 2010. This is something the CTC have been targeting with their Stop SMIDSY campaign – the acronym standing for Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You.

While bicycle traffic has been on a fairly steady upward path since 1994, the all-important rates of fatalities and injuries per billion miles have been see-sawing since the start of the century, with unwelcome recent upward blips.

However, looked at over a longer time period, the picture is somewhat brighter. Figures compiled by the CTC show that the number of deaths per billion miles has fallen hugely, from a recent peak of 82.7 in 1995. The current rate of fatalities per billion miles for car occupants is 3.4 and has been falling rapidly in recent years.

Overall, the number of people killed on the UK’s roads dropped by 17 percent in 2010 to 1,850 – an average of roughly five per day. There was an eight percent drop in serious injuries, with 22,660 people badly hurt. Cyclists were the only major category of road users to suffer a yearly rise in both fatalities and KSI figures.


The cost of the reported accidents was estimated by the DfT to be around £15bn, rising to over £30bn once unreported accidents are accounted for. The latest figures are based mainly on police reports of personal injury accidents, with use of other records such as hospital admissions and the DfT’s own travel survey data where relevant.