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Cycling Accidents Still Major Risk for UK Riders

cycling-accidentsCycling is often heralded as an activity we should turn to when trying to lead a more active lifestyle. Compared to walking, though, cycling carries a much greater risk to our safety, as we are legally required to do so alongside cars, busses, and lorries – from a legal standpoint, cycling on the footpath is illegal in the UK. With such obvious risks for cycling accidents close by, should we think twice about our approach to cycling?

Insightful UK Statistics on Cycling Accidents

To consider this issue, we turned to 2013 UK cycling statistics complied by the Department for Transport (DfT). These were released back in August 2014, so there will be a few more months to wait before the 2014 stats are released. In the meantime, there is plenty to analyse in the current stats.

Altogether, there were 19,438 cyclist casualties in 2013. Below is a breakdown of adults and children involved in accidents where cyclists were slightly injured, seriously injured, or killed.

cycling accidents Source: Department for Transport, 2014

In a study such as this, it is difficult to find any positives. Nevertheless, it is good to see that the overwhelming category leader is slightly injured, which accounts for 84.7% of all cycling accidents. And when it comes to fatalities, only 0.56% of cyclists involved in accidents were killed in 2014.

To provide insight into fatalities, DfT has explained that approximately 75% of all cyclists killed in 2013 died because of major head injuries. Crucially, this highlights the constant need to wear a strong helmet at all times during cycling. Head injuries overwhelmingly pose the greatest threat, so never take the risk of cycling without a helmet. Equally important is that the helmet meets UK safety standards.

Cycling Fatalities Higher in Rural Areas

The DfT statistical release highlighted that the vast majority of cycle accidents occur in urban areas (2308 vs. 943). However, that should be expected because of the sheer volume of traffic in urban areas. High traffic volumes equate to more accidents, but that does not guarantee that cycling in rural locations is safer.

cycling accidents Source: Department for Transport, 2014

The above chart clearly displays the comparison of cyclists seriously injured or killed in urban and rural areas. Comparatively, the rate of accidents classified as seriously injured in urban locations is 257% higher than for rural locations. However, there is a greater cause for concern when evaluating the rural statistics, as there were 63 deaths compared to 46 for urban areas – that is 36.9% higher. You can clearly see the percentage comparison in the chart below.

cycling accidents

Source: Department for Transport, 2014

From 2,308 urban accidents classified as seriously injured or worse, there was a cycling fatality rate of approximately 2% in 2014. More alarmingly, though, there is a much higher fatality rate of 6.6% for rural cycling.

Compared to urban areas, rural roads are less predictable and often have higher speed limits. In urban areas, roads are clearly laid out and routinely have speed limits of 30-40 miles per hour. On rural roads, however, that regularly increases to 60 miles per hours to denote the National Speed Limit. Higher speed limits are likely a major reason why there are more cycling fatalities in rural areas than urban areas.

Insurance Implications of Cycling

In cycling accidents, the fault does not entirely reside with car drivers. Within accidents, it is quite common that cyclists accidentally collide with stationery cars. After travelling at a high speed, it is possible for cyclists to cause hundreds or even thousands of pounds worth of damages. To protect against such occurrences, many cyclists sign up for cycling insurance. Annual fees generally do not go past £40.

Cycling insurance is also important to guard against theft. When taking out this form of insurance, make sure to ask your provider any questions if you feel uncertain. For instance, there will be approved locks and various restrictions applied to your insurance. Failure to adhere to those conditions of your insurance might result in the provider refusing to payout in the event of a claim. Always check the terms and conditions and do not be afraid to ask questions.

In the event of a cycling accident, life insurance and health insurance policyholders will have to report any injuries to their provider. Consequently, cyclists involved in accidents might be at risk of paying higher premiums to maintain their insurance policies. Unfortunately, providers will likely consider the injured cyclist to be exposed to greater risks.

For staying safe while cycling, there is a final statistic to share from DfT. Approximately 75% of serious or fatal accidents in urban areas happen at road junctions, so take extra care and avoid all risky manoeuvres. In closing, you will be safest when avoiding risks. You should always wear a helmet that meets UK safety standards, as head injuries cause approximately 75% of cycling fatalities.